Forgot to Say I Went on Vacation Whoops!

Hi folks! I logged in today to say I’m back from my trip to Canada and realised I didn’t make a post to say I went away in the first place. Duuuuuh good job Ethan. XD Sorry about that everyone.

To the people who have been waiting patiently for me to get back to their emails, thank you so much and I will respond as soon as I can. I’m still really jet-lagged and I want to give you a response when my brain is actually working.

The finger I accidentally chopped is healing up nicely. I still have a lot of numbness in the tip of it but the feeling’s gradually coming back. There’s one spot that’s rather sore that I think I damaged the nerves there. Feels kind of like when you bang your elbow on something whenever it touches a hard surface the wrong way. Typing is still annoying but getting better slowly.

Even on vacation, I was still thinking of y’all. In fact, I spent an afternoon chattering with an engineer friend about manufacturing. He also does resin casting and moulding projects though on a much larger and more industrial scale than me. But whether you’re casting machine parts or art, it’s the same principal.

In short, I got some really valuable knowledge on rapid prototyping, moulding, casting, saving money on my development stages while still producing quality stuff. He wants to have a look over my sketches and schematics as I launch into resin casting my swords so he can give some feedback as I go.

To tell you the truth, it feels great to have a bit of practical support in this crazy endeavour of mine. I don’t need much. Just an occasional glance over my shoulder and a comment or two steering me away from pitfalls and letting me know that there’s an easier way to do something. I’ve been doing this alone for more than two years now and it’s been hard. It’s been lonely. And I’ve had to learn everything the hard way by trial and error. But, like the Iron Sisters, I’m too stubborn to give up.

“A Shadowhunter must behave as though victory is assured,” as the Codex tells us, and I haven’t forgotten that. Quitting is not an option for me, and never has been.

What’s coming up in the near future? You can expect to see in-progress photos of my planning, prototyping, and casting phases as early as next Monday. I’ll be answering your emails as early as today. I will be continuing development on witchlights and steles and you can expect to see my progress on that too. (So far I’ve got silicone boogers that were not the density I wanted so I’ll be making resin versions of the witchlight instead. LOL )

After I’ve moulded and cast a Clariel model I’m satisfied with, I will be putting up a poll for you to vote on the next model to be put into production. I have a feeling I know which one it’s going to be but I want to hear from you all! Your input is my guiding light and steers what I create in my workshop.

As soon as I have a reliable system of production, I will be putting up an Etsy store for a much easier ordering process. So far, I’ve been hiding out in this remote corner of the internet because I’m totally overwhelmed by orders as it is. XD Once I know that I can keep up with demand, I can put my fuzzy face out there for all to see and get Seraph Blades out to all the lovely Shadowhunters who need them.

Before I trundle off to the workshop, I want to let you all know that I’m so very grateful for your support. The emails and comments that pop up in my inbox every morning put a smile on my face and remind me of what all this work is for. I feel super lucky to be making cool stuff for other Shadowhunter fans. You inspire me to create, forgive me when I screw up, and give me courage to keep going when the going gets tough. We have such a great fan community. Love you all. ❤

OOOOWWWWW! Darnit!

Yes, I know. I went quiet again. Thing is: I cut the tip off my left ring finger by accident. Well, of course it was an accident. I’m not that bonkers.

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Now, it’s healing quite well. Got some nice pink new skin coming in and I should have full function of my finger, but the wound is still fresh enough that I still can’t do any carving without it … uh … well, leaking. Ewwwww. No I’m not gonna show you any pics of the boo boo itself. That’s gross.

I go on vacation to Canada to see my friends and relatives that I haven’t seen for two years. I had hoped to have the sword model finished and moulded in silicone, ready for resin casting when I got back. Needless to say, that’s gotten pushed back.

It’s frustrating. I get a new request for a sword pretty much every second day and I really, really want to be making all those pretty shiny things for y’all right now! This is just rotten luck I tell ya. I’m super duper bored cause, well, it’s my finger. Everything I do requires the use of both my hands. Even typing is weird and slow because I can’t push the W, S, or X button with the finger I’m supposed to.

Anywho, grump grump grump, pout pout pout, rawr. I swear I’m not being lazy. I’m just full of OUCH. Yes I will get to your emails. Thank you for being patient with me. Stay awesome. ❤

Still Healing …

Yep … I’m still recovering from surgery. I desperately want to be back in the workshop creating things and the boredom is driving me bonkers. I was able to visit the workshop on the weekend to bring some small crafting stuff home with me; paints and such.

The trip was really painful. I needed to stop partway there and take some painkillers. Thankfully my wife was there to help me. It made me happy to at least see the place just as I left it. All my tools waiting for me to come back. Right now, it’s pretty much all I can do to get there and get home. It’s progress.

There’s some good news in the mix though and I want to share it with you. 🙂 I’m just about ready to place my order for a big batch of silicone and liquid resin from a Swedish distributor. They’re quite close to Finland so the shipping won’t be ridiculous and they sell the kind of resin that I want to work with. They’ve been really helpful in assisting me to choose the right kind of resin for the job.

Casting things that are as large as a seraph blade can be tricky! There are so many things that can go wrong. Overheating during curing (which leads to cracks). Bubbles trapped in the resin (usually we would use a pressure pot to prevent this but there’s none big enough for a sword!). Resin in the thick parts not hardening all the way through. All these things can be overcome with the right ratio of hardener, careful mixing, patience, and practice. My Iron Sister (… Brother?) skills are about to be put to the test once again. Wish me luck!

In response to the many email inquiries I’ve gotten:

While I’m not taking orders right now, you absolutely CAN send me messages to tell me what kind of sword you want to buy! This is super helpful to me so I know which style of blade to make first when I get back in the shop and how many of them I need to make.

I will bookmark each and every email I get about swords, steles, and witchlights and do my absolute best to get back to all of you as soon as I have something for you. I will be sure to make lots of noise and fanfare here on my site when I’m back to producing Seraph Blades.

Until then, send me iratze’s guys. I need ’em! Heal faster dangit!

No I’m Not Dead Yet

Hi everybody! Just a quick update to let you know that I haven’t vanished. Yes I am still making swords and shiny things. I was in the hospital for a bit and I’ve been recovering from surgery. There’s nothing to fret about. It was all planned for and not an emergency of any kind. I’m not sick with anything.

Just getting that out of the way. So, if you’ve sent me an email, I’m not ignoring you and I’ll reply as soon as I have some time. I plan on digging though my inbox tomorrow.

I have now completely finished chewing through my backlog of orders from last year when I had to go workshop hunting on short notice. Big thanks to all the Shadowhunters who waited so patiently for their swords! You guys are the best. ❤

So what’s next? Next is going to be a big research and development phase for me. I have some exciting new ideas about witchlights and I need to nail down exactly how I want to do the electronics. I’m also going to be doing some experiments with resin casting in hopes that I will be able to make more swords more quickly.

I hate only being able to make roughly 24 swords per year. It’s just not fair to all the people who want them. It’s also not fair to me because … well that’s just not enough sales to keep my business up and running. But because I literally cannot make them any faster carving them one at a time with my power tools, my strategy and techniques are going to have to change.

I have two choices: Carve them with a CNC router or cast them in resin. Both of these options have serious challenges and steep startup costs. CNC machines are rather high-tech. They’re also noisy and dusty. Resin, on the other hand can give off really stinky fumes and it’s hard to get the stuff to cure perfectly without any bubbles or blemishes.

First, I’m going to try the resin. I’ve got some experience with moulding and casting things so I’m slightly more confident in those skills than I am with my computer programming. I will be getting my hands on some Alumilite resin as I’ve heard it doesn’t smell like Satan’s personal urinal. If it cures nicely and the fumes aren’t intolerable, then AWESOME, we have our solution to the production problem. If it doesn’t work …

Then I’ll go ahead with my first plan of building a CNC machine and continue being the crazy, crazy weirdo who carves sculptures out of plastic.

Wish my luck with the rest of my recovery and explorations into new creative territory!

Stay safe out there Shadowhunters.

A Brand New Start – Workshop Pics

Today, I signed the lease and put the security deposit on my new workshop. I collected the last bit of paperwork I needed and submitted my application for the government Start-Up Grant. This is a proud day for me and it marks the end to months of stress and frustration.

You’ve all shown me the kindness and patience that the Shadowhunter fandom is known for and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.

I’d like to share with you the first pictures of my new workshop. It needs some cleaning and some care, but I can’t wait until then to show you! Besides, you see all my other works-in-progress so why not my work space too?

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On my floor, there is also a break room with a microwave, fridge, and a couple of coffee makers. Maybe I’ll see some of the other artists? Who knows! The building manager said he’s never seen anyone use it. I’ll be cooking myself lunch in there though so maybe it will encourage others to come and be social. 🙂

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Finally, after so much tearing my hair out and worrying myself silly, I can relax and enjoy my holiday. I still have to deal with tax registration and insurance and all that crud but for now, I’m just going celebrate my victory with my favourite beer.

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Whatever winter holiday you’re celebrating, I hope you have a good one! Me, I’m gonna eat a lot of food and be lazy. Probably visit with a bunch of friends while we all have a little time off.

I’ve got permission from the building manager to paint my workspace, by the way. Any suggestions about what COLOUR it should be? Feel free to comment! I’d love to hear what you think. 🙂

That’s all from me for now. Stay safe out there Shadowhunters.

Hey! What’s the Hold-Up?

No, I’m not dead. Yet.

Once again, I’d like to thank the Shadowhunters who have ordered blades from me for their stellar patience. You guys are the best!

I’m currently doing my best to cut through the two-inch acrylic with Jitterbug and the newest member of Inkblade Studios: Hellscream.

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Hellscream is a circular table saw which, much like Nibbles before it, only cuts in straight lines. It is even more adamant about this policy than Nibbles was, in fact and will SHRIEK LIKE THE SOULS OF THE DAMNED at the slightest provocation. Hellscream’s favourite things include: lurking under the work table, screaming, biting anything that comes close enough, and flinging bits of hot melted plastic at me.

Jitterbug and Hellscream make for an awkward duo to accomplish the task of cutting the sword outlines. It’s rather like hunting demons with a box-cutter and a cannon. I either have to chip away at it with many small cuts or make big, not spectacularly accurate cuts while trying not to damage anything I want to keep intact.

It’s getting done it’s just … slow. And quite frustrating. Boo. Wish me luck guys! We’ll git ‘r done one way or another.

Having a Little Trouble

Wow look at that awesome sword! … what? You can’t see it? It’s inside that block of plastic there. It’s going to be spectacular as soon as I can get it out. When? Um … well, the thing about that is …

Nibbles is broken. My band-saw, Nibbles, is doing poorly at the moment. Something’s happened to the alignment of the wheels and the saw blade keeps popping off them. I’ve tried everything I can think of to fix it but the fact is, I’m an artist, not a mechanic.

So, I have six orders left to complete before the year’s end … and no band saw. This makes Ethan sad. Sad and quite frustrated. Making people pretty things and bringing them joy is my happiness. Kind of like Santa Clause without the awesome beard.

I’m working with slabs of two inch (5 cm) thick acrylic instead of my usual 1 inch in hopes of being able to do more 3D cross guards and generally have more freedom of design. I didn’t take into account that Nibbles would not be on board with my decision.

Nibbles is NOT on board with my decision. Nibbles chewed on that bit of acrylic for about twenty minutes and had a breakdown. It’s now packed away in the corner of the workshop questioning its life choices. I may just join it there cause holy cow I am super frustrated.

What am I gonna do? Well, my current game plan is to visit the hardware store tonight and search for something a little bit more robust than a hobbyist band saw. Maybe a chainsaw. No, I’m not even remotely joking. I just need something to strong enough to strap the plastic to and I will take a fracking chainsaw to it if that’s what I have to do.

No, I don’t think you quite understand.

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This slab of plastic weighs as much as I do. The tablesaw I bought specifically to cut pieces off of it is too small to handle it. The chunk I removed to make the sword I’m working on (stalled on) right now took over 3 hours of sawing with that big beautiful wood saw you can see there. I’m going to have amazing shoulder muscles when I’ve finished my commissions for the year.

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You can see where the table saw started crying for mercy.

So uh, that’s my update for now. What will happen next? Not even I know. Stay tuned for more insanity from Inkblade Studios!