Wild Week

Yes I’m updating today instead of Monday. It’s been crazy.

My water jug decided to leak onto the table all weekend. Apparently the table was mostly made of cardboard and the entire end of it was ruined.

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So I had to take an entire day to chop the end off my work-table and reattach the legs. The seatings for the bolts were apparently laminated into a block, inserted into the table, and then laminated over so it was impossible to just move them and re-bolt. I had to use wood screws, which ended up being too long and pierced the top of the table, and a couple of G-clamps which are now a permanent fixture helping to hold the stupid legs on. Yay.

So. much. swearing.

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I did some experimenting with a product called ComposiMold. It is a re-meltable, re-usable moulding compound. Poor Malechai looks a bit like Han Solo frozen in carbonite here. LOL

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I also discovered that I can close the eye and neck holes with draft-stop tape. I’ll remember this trick for the future!

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Now, what I learned from this experience is that ComposiMold tends to retain some bubbles. Currently not sure if I can actually get them OUT before the moulding compound hardens. But, since it’s a reusable substance, and the bubbles are quite small, I can use it to create prototypes of the items I make without having to buy more moulding products each time AND without creating more environmental waste to make a mould that will only be used once.

Nice!

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Now what have we got going on with this crazy little geode thing here? This is a prototype mould I made with a new technique I’ve been trying out. I’m constantly working on making things more cheaply so that I can lower my prices and make my stuff more accessible.

This is a moulding of a rock I’ll be using for the shape of my new witchlights. I’m still unsure of the size. It might be a little big, but we’ll have to see.

Now, here’s the really exciting part:

This is a touch-activated circuit that I have been working on. The final model of witchlight that I will be selling will light up when placed in the palm of your hand. No buttons, no slide switches. Magic. My aim, as always, is to make the prop look like it is activated by the power of the person holding it. I strive to hide the electronics and mechanics to the point where nobody but you can find the button. It’s a secret trick that you get to reveal (or not!) at your own discretion.

I want to take a moment to again thank the people who have been ever so patient while I tinker with these projects to get them working just right. It means a lot to me to bring something to you that I can be truly proud of, not just something that’s “meh good enough”.

That’s all for me for today. I’ve got to get back to makin’ magic! Have a great weekend guys. ❤

Big Changes Ahead

Hi guys! I have to try to show and tell you lots of stuff while being really quick cause I have to go move my workshop. YES! I am moving. From the 3rd floor to the 4th floor. LOL

Why?

My previous space was too expensive for me. Almost 600 euros a month. That, coupled with the cost of materials to make my shinies (silicone is ridiculously expensive, I’m not even kidding), and my vacuum pump dying and needing replacement (I’m degassing things in a couple stages as it limps along with its last gasps of life) I could not afford to stay there.

So: we’re going from 37 square meters down to 15 square meters. This is okay because I had way too much space to begin with. But … the new room also doesn’t have access to water. So I have to schlep a water reservoir from the bathroom to my workroom when I run out. Booo. Well, I guess I’m about to become very strong? Yay.

My wife helped me move all the things that needed two people to move yesterday (Sunday). Bless her heart for sacrificing a day off lifting and lugging with me.

Now, on to the stuff I’ve been working on! Quick quick GO!

I made a witchlight! Yay!

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It didn’t work! Boo.

I shaved it down.

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It … kinda works! Yay? Not good enough. I’ll keep trying!

Next thing GO!

Doll head made by Lost Chronicles prepped for moulding!

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Covered in blue goo!

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Mmmphhhrrmmph!

How did the moulding go? Don’t know! Not finished yet. Not touching it until it’s safely settled in the new workshop!

Next thing GO!

More carving done on Sariel!

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Yes! In about a month you will be able to get your hands on a glorious longsword like the one that Isabelle Lightwood wielded in The Mortal Instruments movie! Woo! Send thoughts n’ prayers that everything goes smoothly.

Okaygottarun wishmeluck! Aaaaaah bye!

Wait! I forgot.

Don’t forget I have a Clariel for sale on my Etsy! It could be yours! Grab it!

Okay now bye for real gotta move stuff!

I’m Melting!

Okay, so, it’s really freaking hot in my workshop. Still. It’s been a couple weeks or so of 30C, in Finland. What the crap?! I didn’t move within spitting distance of the Arctic Circle for this garbage! Rawr!

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Pls send ice cream.
I’m going slightly bonkers. Still trying to get work done. Somehow. I stand directly in front of the fan and wear a cooling vest so I don’t lose quite as much water via sweat but it’s a daily struggle. Just trying to keep my head clear enough to work without messing things up. Gah!

But the good news is I am well on my way to completing my latest couple of swords (the ones I saved and made gorgeous with the crazy resin glaze experiment). I’m also trying a new product (new to me anyway) called Milliput for the handles. It is a two part epoxy paste that hardens into a very strong plastic in about 4 hours. I absolutely love it so far! Today I’m going to be sanding off all the lumps and bumps and smoothing it into the shape we all know and love. 🙂

More exiting news! I have just ordered the electronic components for the new witchlight design I’m working on! I have many hurdles to overcome with this project which is why it has taken so long. Several of you have requested witchlights and I have not forgotten you! Let me just run over the problems I’m trying to solve:

  • How to hide the electronics inside a transparent substance?
  • How to make the electronics as small as possible?
  • How to conceal the on-off switch?
  • How to conceal the opening? (You’re going to have to change the battery sometime…)
  • How will it open and close?
  • How will the on-off switch work? (Touch? Click? Slider?)
  • How can I keep costs as low as possible so people can afford them while still managing to pay rent on my workshop?
  • How do the Iron Sisters work in a freaking volcano when I can’t even concentrate at 30C?

All this and more on the next episode of What the Crap am I Doing?! Stay tuned.

Ooh Shiny!

So I played with my new silicone mould last week as I continue my witchlight experimentation. I thought you might like to see the results. I was delayed a little bit at first since the plaster mould jacket I made broke.

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Whoops.

So I had to make a new one out of wood. That whole incident took a couple days more than I was expecting but I bounced back fairly quickly. And of course, I learned things! Time spent learning is never wasted. 🙂   (and my clamps may have learned a few new curse words …)

Aaaaanyway. Look! A shiny rock!

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Yaaaaay!

It’s flat on the bottom so I can more easily work on the whole internal electronics stuff. The resin is so clear, it looks like it’s hollow, but it’s actually solid!

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So next for this little treasure? I’ll be messing about with tiny electronics and figuring out how I’m going to hide a light inside a clear object. I’m thinking it will probably be similar to the witchlight you saw in The Mortal Instruments film that was kind of cloudy inside with some imperfections like a natural stone would have. Kind of like quartz?

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You know the one I mean.

It’s fairly safe to say that adamas would look something like this before it’s refined and worked by the Iron Sisters. At least as far as we can estimate by looking at how mundane metals and crystals behave. I’ll be playing with pigments, dyes, and different kinds of inserts to see what yields the best and most natural looking crystal, while still being able to light up. Y’know just … the usual high wizardry.

I’m sure I’ll figure it out. My superpower is stubbornness.

But! I didn’t spend my entire week on a rock. Nope! I was levelling up my crafting skill finishing off the first ever cast resin Clariel sword!

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Super DUPER shiny. 😮
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The hilt is a combination of polymer clay and leather.

I’m working on making the seams smoother so it’s more difficult to see where the handle opens up. This sword, like the ones before it, has an invisible light switch. Wait, it lights up?

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Of course it does!
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We must have the very shiniest! 😀
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Also functions as a flashlight. Y’know. Just in case.

So does this mean I’m taking orders now? Kinda? I have a mould but I want to make a better quality one since this one has some imperfections in it that I have to spend extra time buffing out when I finish each sword. Rawr! Since silicone is quite expensive, I’ll be selling the three Clariel blades I currently have so I can actually afford to do that.

Of course, those who have been waiting patiently on the contact list get first dibs on the blades up for sale cause that’s only fair. BUT! I can add your order to the list and let you know when one becomes available. I can’t give actual dates quite yet as to when I can complete those orders but I am definitely working on that. And no, you don’t have to put down any kind of payment on the order before I have a completion date for you. I’ve done that before and it’s really stressful on both me and the nice Shadowhunter waiting for their sword!

This whole ordering process thing WILL get easier in the future. Once I’ve got things the way I need them to be (ie: a quality mould I’m happy with and reliable crafting times from start to finish) I will be opening an official web shop for you to find my stuff and buy what you want. I’ll still be taking custom orders, of course. I just need to streamline the crafting process so I actually have time to make custom pieces again.

Enough blathering from me! I must go to the workshop and get busy finishing those other two blades. See you later!

New Silicone Test

Woo! I got some new platinum based moulding silicone from Materialshop.fi and oh my gosh it is the best stuff I have ever worked with. I wish I had started working with this from the very beginning. It would have saved me so much time and money!

I got a small test batch to see how it would work since I’ve only ever worked with tin based silicones before and I was nervous about messing it up. I decided to try casting a stone that has about the size, shape, and texture that I want for the much-requested witchlights. (I know you guys have been asking for them and I promise they’ll be available as soon as I get through all the design challenges!)

Enough jabbering. Let’s have some pictures!

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Step 1: Seal object to be moulded.
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Step 2: Cover object to be moulded in clay up to the halfway mark.
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Step 3: Pour in silicone. Wait. Take out finished mould.
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Step 4: Flip it over. Seal the completed half of the mould. Pour in more silicone. Wait. Take out your finished mould!

What’s next for this week? Well, I will be testing out this baby with some resin and fiddling with some light fixtures. (Have I mentioned how freaking hard it is to hide electronics inside a transparent object? AAAAHHHHH!) And I will also be finishing the closure on the Clariel sword I have almost ready to go. Then some very patient Shadowhunter will be getting an email they’ve been awaiting for a long time!

Thanks everybody for sticking with me and supporting me while I go through the hurdles of designing, improving, and crafting. I’m doing my best to make my art works available for everybody. It has forced me to make big changes, innovate, learn, and step so far out of my comfort zone I’m not sure where it is anymore. HA! But seeing the results makes it all worth the blood, sweat, and tears.

Wish me luck everybody! Off I go to make some more magic.

 

Testing Products & Trying New Things

Hi folks! As promised, I wanted to give an update on things I have in the works and talk a bit about how I do research.

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Here’s a peek at my desk where I’m testing new products I haven’t used before. This is a scrap piece of acrylic that I’ve milled a few grooves in the top and applied some different coatings to see how they behave.

I found while I was making Heosphoros that the engravings on the blade needed some more opacity to stand out from the rest of the blade. But I couldn’t just paint any old substance into the grooves without knowing if it would stay there or melt the acrylic or crack … You get the idea. As you can see, the different substances have different opacity, different thickness, and different texture.

The varnish didn’t work at all. It just rubbed off when I touched it. The faux snow was ridiculously hard to work with and ended up really chunky. The … Glitzershnee? Don’t ask me to pronounce that. I can’t speak German. Anyway #2 was pretty cool but dried kind of soft. #1 was a kind of lacquer for colouring stained glass but I accidentally picked up the crystal clear stuff instead of the white. (#5 is the white stuff which turned out to be too opaque)

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So what ended up working the best? The liquid acrylic (which smells like the Devil’s personal port-a-potty) and a semi-sheer nail polish with mica particles in it for a very fine glitter. Gosh, it would have been great to know that before I spent 30 euros and several hours poking a piece of plastic with weird goo. Ha! But that’s just the way it goes. I still have to test stuff before it goes on the final product. Even the nail polish. Different companies use different chemicals to produce their stuff so you can never be sure if something will play nicely with the acrylic. There are SO MANY kinds of plastic guys. o_o So. Many. And by the end of my life I’m sure I will have smelled them all.

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So I’m working on a witchlight… It’s more complicated than I thought it would be. It’s really hard to get the right stiffness so that it lights up when squeezed so I’ve been thinking of a completely different way of engaging the light switch. The one you see here is 100% silicone and there’s a big ol’ air pocket around the light inside so it’s a no-squeezy. I have to actually fish the light out of the thing to turn it on and off. Too inconvenient. Plus I hate that the light rattles around inside. It really takes away from the “magic” effect.

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Plus … WHY THE H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS DID THE SILICONE CURE TO THE ALUMINIUM FOIL?! Ugh. Maybe because some derpface forgot to give the foil a coating of petroleum jelly before plopping the silicone on it. Silicone is confusing guys. I’m just sayin’. Chemistry class did not prepare me for this.

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Anywho I do like how the opening is pretty well hidden until the silicone is squeezed and then it opens up like one of those rubber froggy coin purse things. It’s progress toward a witchlight I’d actually be pleased to sell. It’s not there yet, but the experimentation taught me a lot about the way silicone behaves and what it’s capable of.

I went out and purchased some actual powdered mica to mix into the silicone/plastic/whatever I end up making these things out of because I found that when the light is off, it doesn’t look so much like a rock as I would like it to. In fact, my first attempt at the silicone witchlight ended up looking like a big white booger or maybe somebody’s pet slime. … actually I might put googly eyes on it and just keep it as my shop mascot. Ha!

As I’ve said before and I’m sure to say it a hundred times more: art is about 90% problem solving. You get an idea, and then you have to figure out how to make it real. The other 10% is kind of a mix between stubbornness and insanity.

That’s all from me for now folks. I’ve go to get my butt to the workshop and polish up a Jahoel. See ya later!

Introducing: Sariel & A New Witchlight!

Brand new pretties for you to see! At long last, the elegant beauty of Sariel joins the roster of Seraph Blade models.

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Hello there gorgeous! This design is based on the longsword that Isabelle Lightwood uses in The Mortal Instruments movie.

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As I’ve babbled on before, you all know that you can’t hide a light inside a fully transparent blade. So we did the next best thing and gave the handle a minimalist leather grip in an unobtrusive shade of white.

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The result is rather striking particularly the band of light between the grips.

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Hurrah!

Now, what’s this about a new witchlight? It is true! I have improved upon the humble paper mache model I first created.

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Looks good, easy to make … but a little on the flimsy side and the opening is really obvious.

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Well, we can fix that. And we did! Feast your eyes on this solid plastic “stone”. It’s made of layers (and layers, and layers and oh my god my hand hurts now …) of hot glue a bit of glitter, and some UV-resistant top coat to keep the whole thing from yellowing over time in the sun. Pretty neat all on its own, but in the dark, you can give it a gentle squeeze and …

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Tada! The plastic is flexible enough that turning on the press light is pretty easy. (So don’t let it get squished in your suitcase or it will run down the battery.) LEDs last a pretty long time but to change the battery, you only need to slice along the seam with a sharp knife, pop the light out, switch the battery, stuff it back in and re-seal it with a plain old hot glue gun.

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The design’s still not perfect and I want to get a working model that you don’t have to cut to open, but it’s surely a step up from the paper and balloon one. 🙂

If you’re interested in a tutorial on how to make this type of witchlight, please feel free to let me know in the comments! If there’s enough interest, I’ll put together something for ya.

That’s all from the Studio for now. Stay safe out there Shadowhunters!