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QUICK PEN BRAND PRIMER!

Buying your first (or second, or third) fountain pen is a pretty heavy decision when there are dozens of manufacturers to choose from and hundreds upon hundreds of models! For better or worse, there’s no single perfect pen for anyone - you’ll totally find plenty that scratch different itches. As of this post I rotate between around 5-7 for everyday carry and drawing!

This quick guide is meant to serve as a springboard for anyone who’s still not sure where to begin on homework - I’ll highlight the ups and downs to each company’s pens! While there are tons and tons of top 10 “beginner’s pens” lists out there, I found the lion’s share of them didn’t really offer much in terms of education, just a short list of handsome, inexpensive potential suitors. What I hope this does is give you a broader scope of each brand and what to expect in terms of overall performance and build, as well as some different options to look and grow into depending on your needs.

Just bear in mind that there are way, way more brands out there than what I’m covering in this post - my picks are ones I’m confident you’ll be able to find readily from online retailers!

My very first fountain pen (brush pens aside) was a charcoal black Lamy Safari ($30), and I’d still posit it as one of the best pens to buy if you’re new to the fold. All of Lamy’s entry-level pens follow the Safari in design, with the Safari itself and the Joy ($36) being made of ABS (the same stuff as Lego bricks), and the AL-Star ($38) and LX ($56) made of anodized aluminum. They’re about as stereotypically German as it gets - proudly engineered, few frills, robust and reliable, ready to get lots of work done.

What’s much more unique about them would be the section they all share - the part of the pen you grip. It has an ergonomic, triangular shape to it, such that folks who write with tripod grips will feel right at home holding the pen in the right position. If it works for you, you’ll probably find it to be the most comfortable writing instrument ever, something with which you could easily destroy a crossword puzzle book with no breaks. If you’re of the alternative gripping type or just prefer thinner pens, Lamy’s still got you covered! The Logo ($40) is another handsome option, a metal pen that’s comparable in width to a #2 pencil, and for a few dollars more you could upgrade to the matte-lacquered, gorgeous CP1 ($55).

While it’s a pretty common design choice for fountain pens to have replaceable nibs, Lamy’s solution is ingenious and unlike anything else on the market. All of their pens have the same style of shoulderless nib that’s tension fit to the feed, and can easily be slipped on or off. It’s convenient enough just for maintenance, but given how inexpensive they are, it’s also a breeze to swap between nibs if you have more than one. Spare nibs are easy to get a hold of for only 10-12 bucks, so you could buy yourself an EF Safari and maybe throw in a 1.1mm stub too, so you can have two options without having to buy two whole pens!

PROS: Swappable nibs, great section for FP newbies, durable as hell

CONS: So-so nib performance, annoying for alternative grips, samey models

GO LAMY IF: You want to try lots of different nib sizes on the cheap and can’t be fucked to keep track of how the nib is oriented on the paper

Hailing from Japan, Pilot’s been around for a while and has itself quite a spread in the fountain pen market. Covering everything from the disposable Varsity ($4) to the high-falutin’ adjustable Justus ($315+), there’s a lot to grow into with these guys.

Pilot sees off many a new fountain pen enthusiast’s maiden voyage with the Metropolitan ($15), which is the industry’s greatest example of daylight robbery. A pen with a metal body, included converter and a halfway decent nib? For fifteen bucks? They’re either taking a loss selling these bad boys or have a shady deal with some keebler elves because there ain’t anything else this polished and complete for the price. The Varsity ($3) is just about the cheapest worthwhile fountain pen money can buy, and is a great choice for anyone who wants to check out what they’re about without making a huge commitment. They’re built to be disposable, but you can jimmy out the nib and feed to eyedropper-fill it up again if you’re so attached! If you’re looking for an alternative to the Metro at this price range there’s also the Kakuno ($13), which is a nice, no-frills beginner pen. If you’ve got a bit more cash to spare, the Prera ($32-38) is definitely worth a look as well - it’s a really compact, pocketable pen with one of the most satisfying cap clicks known to man.

Special mention goes out to the Falcon ($150), which carries a hefty price tag but remains one of the most beloved pens for drawing due to its softer, springy gold nib. Though not advertised as such, with a bit of flexing you can get some very respectable line variation out of it - just make sure to be gentle enough, you wouldn’t want to spring a nib at that price! If you’re on the lookout for a next-level pen, there’s not a soul out there who’d regret a Falcon.

PROS: Fine grinds, a pen for every budget, great for low-grade paper

CONS: Westerners miss out on a lot of models, some are on the fragile side

GO PILOT IF: You prefer thinner, drier lines and have a sturdy pencil case

Another German manufacturer, Faber-Castell’s been around for a long time, to the tune of 250 years, and has a bit of a reputation now for being the go-to fine arts supply company. On top of things like paints and colored pencils they also crank out some fountain pens, albeit mostly out of a normal artist’s budget. There are two qualities that make Faber-Castell stand out: an eye for design, and some really nice nibs. The Loom ($40) is one of their more affordable offers and the best example of their ethic on the market - it’s got a really handsome, showy design, and the steel nib on it is jaw-dropping. It has a metal body with a bit of texture to it, so the section isn’t slippery, and feels nice and substantial with or without the cap posted. Just south of that in price is the WRITink ($28), which has a plastic body but still carries some flair of its own. The big schtick on this is that it’s supposed to be for students, with an eye-catching textured thumbprint motif, in case you’ve got a homeroom teacher to impress. While I’ve yet to grab one of these myself due to how new it is, the reviews so far have been warm so I thought it was worth a shoutout!

If you’re looking to dig a little deeper into your pockets and hold your pens farther back from the nib, I’d also recommend the Ambition ($70+) in a heartbeat. You can get it in different materials, from resin to pear and coconut wood, and feels as great in the hand as it looks. It has an extremely small section for cosmetic reasons, so it’ll probably be uncomfortable if you’re prone to gripping it as close to the tip as possible, but that’s really the only minus going on for this model. Great build, great nib, handsome as all fuck.

PROS: Superb steel nibs, unique and eye-catching designs

CONS: On the dry side, still need to buy converters on pricier pens, some models just kinda suck

GO FABER-CASTELL IF: You’re an Apple Tax kinda person

I don’t like to play favorites, but TWSBI is kinda my favorite. A bit of a younger company from Taiwan, they’re focused on cranking out really solid pens in the $30-60 dollar range. What sets them apart is their choice of making all their pens either piston or vacuum fillers, methods typically only seen in more expensive/premium fountain pens from other companies. This carries the advantage of a fill capacity waaaay larger than the typical cartridge/converter pens out there!

Also important to note, TWSBI’s pens are easy to disassemble and put back together, which is great for cleaning and really neat in general if you like to tinker and are curious about the inner workings of pens.

If I had to recommend two models, I’d go with the Eco and the Mini. The Eco ($30) is their least expensive model (short for ECOnomical) at 30 bucks and THE fountain pen I’d recommend to any newcomer because it’s so damn perfect. Huge ink capacity, sturdy, glassy-smooth nibs, and it’s pretty good-looking, to boot. The Mini ($50) is a more lilliputian iteration of their flagship Diamond 580, and it costs the same. So, it’s smaller and has a smaller capacity, why would anyone give a single dingle? Well, for one, it’s a perfect pocket pen, and two, the 580 isn’t exactly built to be posted while this one is. You can cram the cap of a 580 on its ass but it’s friction fit right on the plunger knob, meaning you might unscrew it and make a mess while capping and uncapping. The Mini has threads back there to screw the cap onto, so it’ll sit tight without fucking with the plumbing.

TWSBI doesn’t currently have a whole lot of models on the market right now, but they’re all about as worthwhile as the next. If you’re interested in something more unorthodox, you can always give their VAC700R or VAC Mini ($60-65) a spin. They’re vacuum fill pens, which fills the body by means of forming a vacuum for ink to rush into from the bottle. Not only is it neat, but it carries even more ink than its sister piston-fillers! The one rub to these models is that the company’s still hung up on a pain in the ass they consider a feature, which is that the pen, when the plunger is secured after a fill, prevents more ink from reaching the feed. While leaving the knob unsecured/open will remedy this, most owners would rather opt to remove the small stopper that causes the blockage. If using or losing that stopper ain’t a dealbreaker to you, go for it!

PROS: Generous flow, nibs are heavenly, great build quality

CONS: Can be hard to catch in stock due to demand, not great on shitty paper

GO TWSBI IF: You want a smooth and juicy pen and hate refilling

Another company from - you guessed it - Germany, Kaweco’s been around the block and they know exactly what they’re about: pocket pens. Nearly every Kaweco model wants to be a Tic-Tac when it grows up, most famous of which being the Sport ($20+). There are a LOT of permutations of the Sport, from the Classic (gold-colored steel nib and plastic body), to the Skyline (just like Classic but with a silver colored steel nib), and the Ice (translucent plastic body, silver nib). More expensive metal variants exist in the aluminum AL-Sport and Brass Sport, but they all share the same form factor, design, and optional metal clips. There’s also the Liliput ($52+), which has a similar size but more subdued, capsule design.

Kaweco’s little pens all take standard international short cartridges, but if you want any freedom whatsoever in your choice of ink, I’d highly recommend going for one of the plastic models. For one reason or another, they’re the only ones compatible with converters, of which neither are particularly great, but what’s great about the Sport is that it can totally go eyedropper. That means instead of using a cartridge or a converter, you fill the entire pen body up with your favorite ink, slap some silicone grease and an O-ring on the threads and close that bad boy up for some serious ink capacity. If you really wanna spring for one of the metal models, more power to you, you can still syringe-fill an empty short cart or stick with whatever options you get… The Sport’s mighty cute but I’d really recommend barking up a different brand’s tree for a metal body pen.

There’s a brand-new model from Kaweco coming out sometime in August called the Perkeo ($16), looks to be a sturdy, beginner-friendly deal. It’s also big enough to accept SI long cartridges and converters which should really open folks up to Kaweco’s game - as imperfect as the pens are, I can’t possibly overstate how slick and comfy Kaweco’s nibs are. It stands shoulder to shoulder with the likes of TWSBI and Faber Castell!

PROS: Itty bitty footprint, smooth nibs, the most pocketable pens overall

CONS: Smaller ink capacity, some models are cartridge-only, big hands beware

GO KAWECO IF: You want a nice, smooth pen as well as an inhalation hazard

When most newcomers think brush pens, they probably just have the Pentel Pocket Brush in mind. While the Pocket Brush ain’t the worst you can do, it’s cartridge only, feeds slowly and isn’t really made with longevity or pockets in mind. Other brands certainly produce brush pens of one kind or another, but when it comes to refillable, reusable ones, I don’t think there’s a brand more accessible and primo as Kuretake. Starting with the no.8 ($8-10) you get a lightweight but sturdy model with a synthetic tip, and for a few bucks more you can go for the 13 ($17+) which has a metal body. As far as I can tell the only differences between the 40 and 50 ($26-33) are cosmetic, but they both have sable hair tips as opposed to petroleum-based fibers. Which one of these is better really comes down to preference; synthetic tips are springier and stiffer, eager to snap back to their original shape, while sable brushes are softer and more relaxed.

One thing to note about Kuretake’s pens is that, while it ain’t recommended by the manufacturer, you can totally pop the protective cap off the pen’s tip, exposing the full length of the brush. I can’t vouch for the longevity of the pen once that’s done, but it’s fun to mess with on the 8 since there’s so little to lose. These pens are also unusual in that they don’t have their own proprietary converter and it doesn’t accept standard international - you actually need to grab a Platinum PLAT500 ($6-7) to fill up on your favorite ink.

PROS: Extremely affordable, light and comfy, better flow than its competitors

CONS: Just paying for body/design until the no. 40, which has a sable tip

GO KURETAKE IF: You want a brush pen that actually works

Okay, I’ll admit, compared to everyone else on the list Duke’s pretty hard to navigate. They’re a joint venture between a Chinese company (Shanghai G Crown Fountain Pens) and some unknown German R&D (some folks say Staedtler but I can’t confirm) that’s registered as a German LLC, and their availability seems to be pretty spotty in the west. Despite all this, they’re a bit of a hidden gem for fountain pen enthusiasts, offering some unique and robust models for a modest price. I personally got invested in Duke because they happen to carry some mighty fine fude-nibbed pens!

I’d better mention this out the gate, if you’re looking for Duke pens on the likes of Amazon and eBay, they most certainly are there, but the naming and availability of shit is all over the place. They don’t often go by their model names, instead being advertised by their descriptive features and nibs - whoever shills them seems to take the Etsy approach to advertising. Nonetheless, I’d highly recommend a quick image search of any of the below models to get a feel for what they look like, that way you can easily identify them when it’s time to go shopping. While their standard nibs are pretty nice, middle of the road affairs, I’d highly recommend gunning for their fude nibs, particularly the much larger one that’s almost a half-centimeter in length - you’ll know it when you see it. And it’s way more fun to use than you can imagine.

One other thing you should know before going sleuthing is that you might get burned on quality control with these things. They’re almost always sold through a third party and I’m not sure how your luck would turn out on returns/exchanges should your pen be off-kilter. I’ve gotten a 551 fude with absolute garbage feeding issues, something forumgoers have also complained about with some regularity. You might be able to fiddle with it for better results if you’re feeling frosty! On top of that, the standard international converters they include tend to be buttwater, but that’s an easy replacement for an inexpensive and potentially very worthwhile pen. Caveat emptor!

One of the better known models is the Duke 116 ($20-32), which given its prevalence might just be their flagship. It’s a good length, a little on the thinner side and comes in a shitload of finishes, most common of which being a black and burgundy rhombus pattern. I love this thing because it’s extremely sturdy and well-balanced for a lower-end fountain pen, and if you’re lucky you might just be able to find one with the larger fude nib advertised as an “emerald black barrel” with a calligraphy nib. 

The Duke 209 ($10-16), nib style be damned, might just be one of the best deals out there when it comes to fountain pens - it’s a full-metal body, compact little bastard and the best gamble I’ve ever taken on something yet to be extensively reviewed. It’s thin, lightweight and sturdy which is great for extended drawing sessions, though the metal section might get a bit slick if you’ve got ultra-oily hands. I can’t even knock it for the quality of the included converter, because it’s actually included with a pen in this price level. Step up your fucking game, Lamy and Faber-Castell! You can often find the 209 bundled with both a standard nib and the fude/calligraphy nib in one set, which is really nice. One thing to note is that the fude nib on the 209 is quite small, more in line with the likes of Sailor’s fare than the monster ski-jump you can find on the 116 and next model on deck. Still gives you a lot of variation, and might be the better choice if you’re looking for more control over your lines!

Last one I’d like to mention is the Duke 551 ($40-60), commonly found as the Compound Art or Confucius Fountain Pen. This is the model that really sold me on Duke because it’s fat, it’s gorgeous and the fude tip is enormous. If you’ve got bigger hands this’ll probably be a better fit for you than the 116 if you’ve got your sights on that nib. Only drawback I have is that it’s not really a pen you’ll wanna use posted, because the cap’s heavy and sits shallow and friction-fit on the back, which really throws off the balance. Other than that, it’s a sheer pleasure, and one of the easiest Duke models to get a hold of for westerners due to its developing reputation.

PROS: Best fude nibs on the market, sturdy build, great price for what you get

CONS: Quality control is apparently conducted by blind cave salamanders

GO DUKE IF: You’re willing to take a QA gamble for nibs you can’t get anywhere else

Last on the list has a bit of a steep cost hike, even on the lowest-end pens they produce, but I feel like their outstanding traits make a compelling case for a newbie with deeper pockets, or perhaps someone looking for their next step up from a beginner’s model. Karas Kustoms is an American machining company based in Arizona that manufactures things like phone cases, keychains and toys, but they’ve recently gained traction as a pen manufacturer.

As of this post they have two different models of interest, the Ink ($100-200) and the Fountain K ($80-130), the former being full-sized and the latter being a bit smaller, but both are made of the same machined materials. You can get ‘em in solid brass, copper or aluminum (raw or in a slick anodized finish), which explains their higher ticket price, but you’re getting a goddamn solid metal pen. You can whip one of these bastards against concrete for hours and all you’d have to show for it are a few scuffs. They’re built to survive, and in the case of the brass and copper models they’ll develop a nice patina over time as a bonus. Depending on where you do your shopping you can even mix and match the materials for the body, cap and section!

Really the only knock I can give Karas Kustoms is that they use Bock nibs in all their fountain pens, which I’ve personally had some trouble with in terms of overall QA. Still, they’re #6 nibs, which you can easily buy a replacement for if you don’t dig what comes standard. After popping a Jowo EF in my brass Ink it’s never left my pocket!

PROS: Will outlive you and your next of kin, highly customizable, industrial design

CONS: Heavy as balls, pricey, limited availability

GO KARAS KUSTOMS IF: Your art supplies are in danger of being run over by a semi

Like I said before, this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface on good companies out there, and someone’s probably gonna slap me for leaving out the likes of Jinhao, Noodler’s and so on. If anyone else out there has a particular favorite they’d like to shill, feel free to add it to the post!

As always, Inkpiss is happy to help, so get a hold of me if you’ve got any questions or grief to sling my way!

anonymous asked:

One thing I'm not sure about with 3D printed stuff, is how is that judged or should it be judged for craftsmanship? What questions should a judge ask? Is it more or less work, etc?

This is a great question! When I first started getting into 3D printing it is something I thought about a lot. 

How 3D Printing Fits In

Cosplay already is a huge amalgamation of skills. We’re here styling wigs (sometimes that alone is an understatement), doing makeup, sewing, crafting, working with electronics, engineering all sorts of structures and contraptions, we’re woodworking, painting both digitally and traditionally, modeling, writing skits and acting in them. Cosplay judges already have it rough! How do you compare a brilliantly sewn ballgown to a brilliantly crafted suit of armor when the skills, tools and techniques behind making them are so  different? 

In that craziness, I think 3D printing is able to fit right in. 3D modeling? Cosplayers have been using models for pepakura crafting. Machine precision? Vinyl cutting and laser cutting for cosplay are rare but not unheard of. Plastic pieces? Worbla, wonderflex, PETG … we’re no strangers to thermoplastics. And from there the filling, sanding, priming and painting is similar to just about any other armor or prop. 

3D printing is tool that can help with the creation of costumes, and I think 3D printed props can be judged alongside others. However it is important to remember this is a tool and not a magical solution or an impossible skill.

Cheating

Cheating at cosplay competitions isn’t something new. There have been cosplayers caught passing off commissioned/bought costumes as their own work and there are cosplayers who were called out for winning awards with commissioned costumes. Unfortunately, 3D printing offers new avenues for cheating:

  • Props, accessories and other models are offered for free on a variety of sites and communities. There are also models for sale, models could be commissioned and even printed pieces could be sold as part of kits. How do you tell if someone modeled their own piece or if they downloaded it?
  • Even though pieces can be downloaded, cosplayers may still add their own additions. At what point does it become their own work?
  • How much value should be put into the initial modeling vs. finishing the object. How does painting a nerf gun compare to making a gun from scratch?

  • If judges are uninformed about 3D printing, it will be easier to pass off someone else’s modeling work as your own.

What Should Judges Ask?

  • Did you model it yourself or download a model?
    Modeling it yourself is like drafting a sewing pattern or designing a pepakura file. Downloading is like using a commercial pattern or downloading the pep file and working from it.

  • What program did you use or how did you construct it?
    If they modeled it they should be able to tell you what program or programs they used in designing it. They may be able to give you examples of challenges they faced or how they solved some design problem. They may be able to show you modeling progress pictures. 

  • Did you modify a file? How much and why?
    If they downloaded a model, they may still have made a significant contribution to it through modification. Similar to altering a sewing pattern. With modeling, their contribution could also be to solve problems: smoothing out a really choppy game rip or fixing an impossible object/broken geometry. 

  • Did you print it yourself or through a service?
    Setting up a print is pretty quick and relatively easy, but there is still skill involved in problem solving errors and choosing the best settings. A comparison might be getting a wig that is already the right length for your style vs. getting a wig that is too long and needs to be cut before you can style.  There is a little bit more knowledge and skill involved in cutting the wig to the right length first. If you are unsure about their answer try asking them about the printer they used, the print settings or the infill % used. 

  • What material did you choose and why?
    There are different printing materials although ABS and PLA are the most common. Asking the cosplayer what material they printed with, and why, can give you information about their involvement in the printing side of things. PLA is the easier to use material and it smells a lot less, but it also is less heat resistant than ABS. ABS is more heat resistant, perfect if your prop will be sitting in the sun, but it smells terrible when printing and is more tempermental. Other materials include resins, wood filament (looks, smells and feels like wood), copper filament which is heavy and metallic, nylon and even carbon fiber! 

  • How did you prep your piece and paint it?
    3D printing gets you a prop, but few pieces will be perfect right out of the printer. Home printers are usually fairly small and most prints will be in multiple pieces that have to be glued together. From there, there is filling, sanding, priming, sanding and painting once the base is smooth — much like making armor or props from other materials. Judge these finishing steps the same way you would other projects. 

  • Why did you choose 3D printing over another method?
    Understanding why they went with 3D printing might help you with your overall assessment of their pieces. 

What should cosplayers do to be prepared for judging?

  • Document your progress so you can show the work put into it and provide it is your work. Take screenshots through the modeling process, take a picture of the print as it looks off the printer and show the settings you chose when setting up your print.  

  • Give credit where it is due. If you built off another person’s work or used another person’s model: tell the judges. 

  • Be willing to explain your process and what it means, your judges may have no knowledge of 3D printing. Remember, you have a short amount of time to “sell” them your costume as the best. Letting them know where you spent your time, what skills were used and what challenges you faced will help them understand what went into the costume you are wearing. Tell them you spent hours sculpting in mudbox and creatively sliced your piece to fit on a tiny printer the same way you would tell them you spent hours beading and made your own lace. 

Is 3D printing More or Less Work?

The first thing I 3D printed for cosplay was my Rosalina brooch. I turned to 3D printing because I was having trouble getting crisp lines and a proper star shape. To do it,  I drew a vector drawing in illustrator and brought that into a 3D program. Then through extruding, beveling and subtracting I was able to create the shapes I wanted. For me, it was easier to create the shape digitally but it also involved applying my vector skills/knowledge and learning 3d modeling skills/knowledge. It is hard to say if that is more or less work than using the same vector as a stencil to use with the worbla/foam. In this scenario it is a means to an end.

Another piece that I used in cosplay was my Lucoa horns. These were originally designed by diogok but I came up with a peg system to attach them to the hat and Kevin did the modeling for me. Downloading the file was definitely less work, even though we made modifications. In this scenario, 3D printing saved time and work by building off existing models and just having to paint the final piece. 

So it largely depends on the work put into the piece compared to other methods. There are going to be things that are easier to do in 3D printing and there are going to be things that are easier with other materials. The best thing to do as a judge is asking questions to find out how involved the cosplayer was with their work. As a cosplayer, the best thing to do is explain how much work you put into a piece, what the challenges were, and why you chose to 3D print over other methods. 

Duckie / Admin

We’re answering your 3D Printing questions this week. Ask your question here.

edwardcollectsurns  asked:

hello! do you know of any tutorials on how to make a sword that DONT involve wood or worbla? i want to make wonder womans sword, but i dont want to cut it out of wood, and i cant afford worbla. can you help?

Hello there!

Unfortunately, there’s few ways to make this without a wooden dowel at the very least, for some stability and to make your carving of the handle easier. However, you can use basic hand tools to simply cut the dowel into shape, if that is the route that you go. (PVC pipe would be another option.)

There’s several materials you can use for this, mostly involving foam. 

I make swords out of foamboard (like the kind sold for school presentations), which may be an option for the blade here. It isn’t a super sturdy material alone, but it is lightweight, and if you use two layers of foam for the blade with a layer of thin balsa wood in the center (this can be cut with a common utility knife), it is very durable. This would be a good option for the blade and possible the hilt. I fill the edges with spackling compound and sand it to a smooth finish. The blade will be a bit thicker, but the effect still works,

You can also carve this type of prop out of XPS foam. Again, this is not super sturdy on its own, and you may need to use a thin wooden dowel in the middle of the blade for stability, but it takes detailing well and is easy to shape just by cutting and sanding. The drawbacks here is that the material is messy to work with, takes a long time if you only have hand tools to work with, and dents easily unless you reinforce the outside with fiberglass resin or another material. If you don’t reinforce it, you will still need to seal it somehow before painting it – I like spackling compound for this, as well, as it can be sanded very smooth.

EVA foam is another option, though for this, you may need power tools (even something as simple as a rotary tool) in order to get the detailing and to get a suitable edge on the blade.

For the blade and crossguard (as much of a crossguard as it has), you can possibly also use plastic, such as sintra, for a rigid and smooth surface, and you can add the detailing from there. 

For the detailing on the grip, you can carve that out of your foam of choice (XPS would work well), or you can build it up with air dry clay. Keep in mind that this clay tends to be a bit heavy and can crack easily. 

To assemble the sword, I would make it in three main parts (two and a half main parts?). The grip would be one part that’s attached to the crossguard (so that’s your half), and the blade would be made separately. If you make the crossguard and grip separately or out of different materials, you can hide the joint in the detailing, and fill and sand it smooth. The blade itself would fit into the space between the ‘arms’ of the crossguard, and would be glued in place in a slot on the inside of the crossguard. Keep in mind that the longer you make this slot/tab, the sturdier the blade will be. Glue the ‘arms’ in place on the blade, as well. I would personally make the grip out of something already round, like a dowel or PVC pipe, and add the detailing on top of it, rather than trying to carve into it – with a PVC pipe, you can attach the blade down as far as you need to in order for it to stay in place, since it’s hollow. 

Keep in mind the MSDS on any of the materials that you use, and take the proper safety precautions. Sintra in particular offgasses chlorine gas when heated, though sanding or heating any of these materials would require safety precautions.

If you haven’t already browsed through our lengthy selection of sword tutorials, there are several that are foam or otherwise not carved out of wood: http://www.cosplaytutorial.com/list/props.php#PropsWeaponsSwordsandKnives 
Even if the shape isn’t quite right for what you need, you can still use some of the techniques and materials.

I hope that helps! Good luck. :]

Fabrickind / Q&A Staff

anonymous asked:

I just saw a post about straight white men tm being a pain in the ass at restaurants lest they appear gay and it reminded me of the way men act when they come into the fabric and craft store I work at. Any stories like that to share?

To preface, there are male crafters out there- rare though they may be. But usually when an adult male human is in our store they fall under three general categories:

  • ‘I came here for ONE SPECIFIC THING and I don’t need your goddam help, lady,’ then coming back to find me because they have no clue what they’re doing. 
  • ‘Crafter? Ha! No, madam- I am an artiste!’
  • The words ‘Help, wife won’t leave’ spelled out in the wooden letters section. 

All of them are, let me just say- a joy to work with because regardless of their classification, they will never be happy to see you. This goes double if you know what you’re talking about. 

The trend right now for men to be mad about when I am in their presence is resin. They will never admit it to me, but they’ve either seen on Pinterest or on some home show that you can make your countertops more interesting by putting things on the surface and then evening it out with a pouring resin to make a smooth, glossy countertop that would look awesome on their Instagram when their buddies come over to play poker. 

And I am the only person in the store right now that works with resin. And oh man are dudes not happy to be informed by a 5′5″ tubby girlish thing with a limp. More than once have I encountered the phrase ‘Is there a man I could talk to about this?’

It takes pretty much all my energy to keep the sass to my gender nonconforming ass. 

Most recently, there was a dude that wanted to do some kintsugi effect to his countertops, but he had a very roundabout way of saying it. Officially, what he wanted to do was use crushed turquoise instead of gold and then sand it down  and fill the cracks with glitter. 

“You have to mix the two parts together-”

“Yeah yeah, resin and catalyst I know I know.” Like if you knew, why did you ask, but whatever. “So I do that and then I sand it down, then what?”

“I… wouldn’t sand it down unless you intended to put another coat on top of it. Sanding it down will give it a texture and remove all the glossiness to it.”

“I thought sanding it down would make it shiny!”

“… in fact- the opposite.”

Huff huff. “And why is it so expensive?!”

“… because resin is an expensive material.”

HUFF. “I’ll have to think of something else then.” HUFF. 

Later, I’m putting beads away and he catches up to me again. 

“Where’s your turquoise?”

“In what form?”

“ANY form!”

“I think the only turquoise we have is going to be-”

“LIKE THIS!” He points to the stone beads in my hands, which happen to be blue. “I need LOTS of THIS. I’m going to grind them up to make my countertop.”

“… these are dyed howlite.”

“The hell is howlite?”

“It’s a whitish stone that can be dyed.”

“So it’s like plastic, then. I don’t want plastic.”

I just said.. it’s a rock. But whatever. “I think that the only turquoise we have is also going to be dyed.”

“So it’s not blue.”

“It’s blue, but you’re going to have color variations.”

“Why do they dye it if it’s already blue?”

“To make it a uniform color. Natural stones come in a variet-”

“So you’re saying you don’t have anything. WON-DER-FUL.”


Essentially, it comes down to them being already frustrated before they even talk to me. They want to be here even less than I want to be here and they’ve only been here for like ten minutes. 

3

New 3-D Printer Uses Light to Build Objects in Minutes

The next generation of desktop 3-D printers might do away with the excruciatingly slow process that current units use. Researchers have unveiled a printer that replaces the current extruder nozzle that squeezes out melted plastic one layer at a time with light and oxygen. 

The makers of the Carbon3D printer have demonstrated a technique they call continuous liquid interface production (CLIP), which grows 3-D printed parts out of a liquid resin bath. Ultraviolet light and oxygen work to build a stronger part in layers just tens of microns wide. Build times can be reduced from hours to minutes, they say.

Their work builds on the process called stereolithography, an additive manufacturing technique developed in the 1980s that builds parts layer by layer with liquid resin cured by light. 

“By rethinking the whole approach to 3-D printing, and the chemistry and physics behind the process, we have developed a new technology that can create parts radically faster than traditional technologies by essentially ‘growing’ them in a pool of liquid,” said University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill chemistry professor Joseph DeSimone, who coinvented the technique and is also Carbon3D’s CEO. See more images and learn more below.

Keep reading

Resin Jewelry Q&A

So, I recently received this message:

“hi, so I’m a total 100% beginner to resin jewellery. I think it looks beautiful and really want to give it a go myself. The problem is, I’m not quite sure where to start. What do I need and what do the items do? Obviously resin, bezels, stuff to put in resin. But What is the Mod Podge stuff you use and why? Can I use ice cube trays as moulds? any and all advice would be so so appreciated <3 I LOVE YOUR WORK!! <3”

First, I’d like to thank you, princess-epikion for your questions. I love to get feedback and questions from you guys. =) Now, I’ll address all your questions. Note: I used stock photos from Michaels’ and Hobby Lobby’s websites because a lot of my stuff has already been used and fashioned into something.

To make resin jewelry you will need: Resin (duh), mold(s) and mold release or bezel(s). 

I know you obviously realize you need resin but you should be aware that there are different types of resin available: Clear casting epoxy, clear polyester casting and casting resin. All of these are usually sold side-by-side in-store and you could get in a mess if you don’t know the differences.

Clear casting Epoxy is ideal for small decorative items and jewelry in molds. You may also encase small items in it. Dyes may be added for color. These dyes should be nearby the resin in-store (if available) and will indicate they are for resin casting crafts. This is what I use and what I’d recommend you use. It is available at most craft stores such as Hobby Lobby and Michaels as well as online.

Polyester casting resin is for deep mold casting. Not recommended for jewelry-making.

Casting resin dries within minutes (unlike the previous two which can take 24 hrs or more) but it dries white not clear. It can be painted, stained, dyed, tapped, drilled and machined, however. It is a viable option for jewelry making but it’s to make replicas from molds not to encase things. I’ve only seen this sold at Hobby Lobby.

There are a variety of molds available to make pendants, bracelets etc. Hobby Lobby has a small selection of generic molds in-store but I would highly recommend browsing Etsy for specialty molds.

Now, if you use molds you’ll need mold release. Do not try to save money and use cooking spray. The internet says you can but it’s a lie. Your piece will become cloudy and unusable. Also, don’t think you can just skip using the mold release. Your piece could get stuck in your mold permanently and then you’d have spent money for nothing. Buy mold release. It actually goes quite a long way.

Clear casting resin isn’t just for molds though. You can encase all sorts of neat things in it. In that case, you just need the resin and some bezels. Bezels come in all sorts of nifty shapes, sizes and colors. They even comes as rings. Also, I’d like to note that you can use something as simple as a bottle cap for your bezel.

You can also cast images on paper in resin - photographs, printed images, mini pieces of art etc. Because paper is so thin you’ll probably want to seal it on both sides or in your bezel with mod podge. This is to protect against the paper becoming somewhat transparent. It is also very important if you’re going to encase something that was done by hand with ink because otherwise the ink will bleed.  Mod podge is an all-in-one sealer, glue and finish. It works for wood, paper, fabric, and other porous surfaces as a glue, varnish, or to seal and protect items prior to use in craft projects. It’s just great to have in general - if you’re not using it yet, you should be!

There are mini kits for resin jewelry-making that include resin and mixing materials and just mixing materials. However, I don’t use any of those kits but rather buy large packs of Popsicle sticks and plastic bathroom cups from Wal-Mart. I requisitioned a mini glass measuring cup from my mother that I reuse though. You will need to find a small measuring cup; preferably reusable so you don’t have to keep buying those little kits.

Also, whatever you use for resin crafts should not ever be used for anything else. Resin is toxic. Also, you should wear gloves. Your skin won’t exactly burn off but it can mildly irritate your skin and it’s just plain obnoxious to wash off.

Lastly, I have never used an ice cube tray to cast resin so I cannot give you a definitive answer as to whether or not it would work. However, if you want to give it a try then by all means please do. If you have a disposable tray, mold release and resin then it might just work. The plastic may be too inflexible though. If you do attempt it, please let me know how it went.

Well, I hope I answered all your questions completely, princess-epikion. If you or anyone else has any further questions then please ask. I’m always happy to be of assistance.

Stay crafty, my friends.

-M

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This Roman period glass bowl is made of translucent, light green glass. The bowl would have been formed by blowing a bubble of glass into a mold, creating the ribs on the vessel’s exterior and leaving the areas between the ribs extremely thin. Despite its age, this glass object is intact with the exception of one small, oblong loss in the thinnest part of the wall. Conservators do not always fill every loss in an object, especially when an object comes from an ancient and/or archaeological context, or when the loss is small; however, in the case of this bowl, the glass surrounding the area of loss is so thin that filling the loss actually improves the object’s stability by protecting the edges of the loss from further damage.

The loss in the bowl’s wall was filled with a thermoplastic acrylic resin called Paraloid® B-72. Paraloid® B-72 is a favorite material in conservation, used as an adhesive, a consolidant, a fill material, and a coating. B-72 is versatile as it is soluble in a variety of solvents in a range of concentrations, and particularly well suited to conservation as the resin is chemically stable, reversible and manipulable with solvents and heat, structurally strong, optically clear, and bonds well to many materials. Paraloid® B-72 finds use on a wide range of materials, but because the resin sets through solvent evaporation, tiny bubbles visually disrupt the resin film, making B-72 less aesthetically appropriate for glass. To help conservators use this excellent repair material in glass conservation, conservators at the Corning Museum of Glass developed a way to cast Paraloid® B-72 resin films without bubbles.

To make the fill for the bowl, B-72 resin was tinted with dyes and dry pigments, poured into silicone rubber molds, and cast into thin sheets. The molds were placed into polyethylene bags (left) to allow the solvent to evaporate slowly, reducing the formation of bubbles in the resin film. Once set (right), the film was cut to shape and adhered to the loss by applying a tiny bit of solvent to the edges of the fill; because B-72 is itself an adhesive, no additional adhesive is necessary.

Through exposure to its archaeological burial environment, the surface of the bowl has developed a layer of iridescence often referred to as “weathering products.” Unlike accretions that have become adhered to the surface of the glass, weathering products are actually the original surface of the glass that has delaminated, or split, into many layers. As light passes through these extremely thin layers of glass that are separated by small pockets of air, the light bends or refracts, the optical effect creating iridescent colors like oil on water or the colors of some butterfly wings.  

To make the Paraloid® B-72 fill resemble the weathered glass, a layer of goldbeater’s skin painted with acrylic iridescent paints was added. Traditionally used in the beating of gold sheet into gold leaf, goldbeater’s skin is thin, strong, translucent, and has a satiny sheen similar to the glass weathering products. This bowl will be part of the upcoming reinstallation of the Brooklyn Museum’s Asian and Islamic Galleries.

Posted by Victoria Schussler 

2

The ancient Egyptians styled their hair using a fat-based ‘gel’, an analysis of mummies has found. The researchers behind the study say that the Egyptians used the product to ensure that their style stayed in place in both life and death.

Natalie McCreesh, an archaeological scientist from the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology at the University of Manchester, UK, and her colleagues studied hair samples taken from 18 mummies. The oldest is around 3,500 years old, but most were excavated from a cemetery in the Dakhleh Oasis in the Western Desert, and date from Greco-Roman times, around 2,300 years ago.

Microscopy using light and electrons revealed that nine of the mummies had hair coated in a mysterious fat-like substance. The researchers used gas chromatography–mass spectrometry to separate out the different molecules in the samples, and found that the coating contained biological long-chain fatty acids including palmitic acid and stearic acid. The results are published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

McCreesh thinks that the fatty coating is a styling product that was used to set hair in place. It was found on both natural and artificial mummies, so she believes that it was a beauty product during life as well as a key part of the mummification process.

The resins and embalming materials used to prepare the artificially mummified bodies were not found in the hair samples, suggesting that the hair was protected during embalming and then styled separately.

“Maybe they paid special attention to the hair because they realized that it didn’t degrade as much as the rest of the body,”
says McCreesh. The product was found on both male and female mummies, showing that both sexes cared about their eternal hairdo.

 John Taylor, head of the Egyptian mummy collection at the British Museum in London, describes the idea as feasible. “Hair was a status symbol,” he says — elaborate styles signified high standing.

Egyptian texts and art contain no mention of hair products, he says, although ancient Egyptians are known to have used scented oils and lotions on their bodies.

“The best clue comes from Egyptian wigs,” says Taylor. “The hair is often coated with beeswax.” Such wigs, which have been found in Egyptian tombs, would have been expensive and probably restricted to the nobility, says McCreesh. “The majority of the mummies I’ve looked at have their own hair,” she says.

The Egyptians might have also used beeswax on their own hair. The wax contains fatty acids such as palmitic acid, although McCreesh says that her results so far don’t show any evidence of beeswax. “It was a fat, but we can’t tell you what type of fat,” she says.

She points out that beeswax would be difficult to wash out of hair, compared to, say, animal fat. She now plans to analyse the samples further, to try to pin down the hair-gel recipe.

The mummies’ hairstyles varied, both long and short, with curls particularly popular; metal implements resembling curling tongs have been found in several tombs. Once the hair was styled, the fatty gunge would have held the individuals’ curls in place.

“You can almost imagine them when they were alive,” says McCreesh, “tending their hair and putting their curls in.”

Photographs: An Egyptian Mummy found in the Dakhur, Oasis & Marilyn Monroe with a pin curl set in.

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Since 1996, the team at Dwarven Forge has been creating modular, three-dimensional terrain for tabletop gaming — individual pieces that can be assembled in infinite combinations to create detailed caverns, cities, and kingdoms. In 2013, they wanted to start making these intricate handcrafted sets out of “Dwarvenite,” a proprietary material that the team says is “nearly indestructible” — and more affordable to cast than their previous material, resin. So they brought the idea to Kickstarter, where more than five thousand backers helped bring their Dwarvenite dreams to life.

Last year, we visited the Dwarven Forge studio in Brooklyn, where we watched the creators in action — and learned more about what it takes to make their artistic miniatures. “All these pieces are handmade. So at a given time, there’s a team of 12 people sanding, painting, pouring molds. Everything you see: sculpted, molded, cast, sanded, painted. It’s pretty nuts,” Dwarven Forge founder and chief sculptor Stefan Pokorny told us.

Their latest project, Dwarven Forge’s Castles, is a new set of modular miniatures that includes stackable stone walls, ramparts, a moat, flying buttresses, towers, cliffsides, arched bridges, and more — everything you need to build the kingdom of your dreams. Get building right here.

Green Witchcraft: Walking the Green Path part III

Because green witchcraft isn’t an organizes path, there are no required tools or equipment in order to follow it. There are, however, important items every green witch uses in her/his practice

Herbs & Plants

With so much emphasis on working with natural energies, it is natural that herbs and plants immediately come to mind when one thinks about a green witch and the things he/she uses or interacts with. In fact, many natural objects form a part of the green witch’s tool kit.

The Green Witch’s Hands

A green witch’s hands are her/his most valuable tools. With your hands you touch and take in information. With your hands, you dispense caring. A green witch’s touch is a keen one. We reply heavily on sight, but our sense of touch carries great power and conveys equally important information that the green witch knows to take into account. Touch also allows us to sense energy and forms an immediate link between the green witch and that witch s/he communicates, whether it is absorbing information from a plant about it’s energy and potential uses, or laying gentle a hand on the head of a sick child. You use your hands to tend and harvest your herbs and plants, prepare them for storage, and blend them together. Your hands can become a physical extension of your thoughts and your will.

The Green Witch’s Journal

Recording your explorations, field notes, recipes, rituals, and research is of great importance because this record forms your main body of lore to which you will refer again and again in your work. Note that this journal is not a Book of Shadows. A Book of Shadow is a record of spells and instructions for magical rituals which pertains to Wicca. Your green witch journal will contain a varieties of things, some magical, yes, because the green witch understands that magic is a method of touching the energy of the earth; but it will mainly contain recipes, sketches, maps, experiments, observations, and accounts of your work and other experiences,  Be sure to date your work so you can keep track & see how you have grow in knowledge over times. You will thus remember and understand what you did when and why. You may fill several journal, that will be a mis-mash of things but it’s doesn’t matter, your journal isn’t meant to be perfect, but a reflection of your thoughts at that time. The green witch path is an organic one, it makes sense to allow your journal to meander topic to topic. You could have different journals for different parts of your green witch practice; say, one for herbalism & plant lore, one for nature observations, and other for recipes.And at a later date, you could copy over your writings & notes into a larger journal & organize it in subjects & sections. It is entirely up to you

Mortar & Pestle

A mortar and pestle is invaluable for crushing dried herbs, seeds, or resin and for blending materials for a variety of projects. I recommend you get yourself one made of stone; it is easiest to keep clean and has the weight and strength required to crush things like resins. Metal has along thought to taint the energies of herbs you crush, while wood adsorbs the oils & juices and be almost impossible to keep perfectly clean. Invest in a mortar and pestle of a decent size (about 5 inches high & 5 inches wide, no smaller), though it is tempting to get a smaller size & save on money, you won’t be doing yourself any favours. They’re hard to manipulate, and if you use the mortar to blend mixtures you’ll be limited to a teaspoon or two.

Cups, Bowls, Jars and Canisters.

Of course there will be times when you need these items, whether that be to mix an incense blend or to hold salt & water for the elemental representation, and of course jars & canisters for storing your herbs & herbal blends. These don’t need to be fancy, green witchcraft isn’t heavy on ceremony or formal ritual, it is what’s in the cup or bowl that is important not the container it is held in. Though there is nothing wrong with have a special cup or bowl(s) you use only for your green witch working.

Knife or Scissor

Whether you grow your own or wildcraft your herbs and plants you are going to need something to harvest them with. This blade must be clean & shape, a dull blade is dangerous to both user & that which is being cut. Scissor are easier to use then a straight (or curved in the case of a hand-scythe or sickle) blade, again keep them clean & sharp. Perhaps you could use scissor to harvest your herbs & a knife for chopping and preparing the herbs at home.

If you decide you want to wildcraft you herbs, be sure you get yourself a good book on flora & trees in your around, if possible with coloured pictures. I suggest you familiarize yourself with your local plants & trees before you actually harvest anything. It is important that you are 100% sure you know what you’re harvesting, and for goodness sake, do not eat anything, if you wish to learn herbal medicine, get yourself some good books or take a course. You’ll need a blade, again clean & sharp to harvest your wild plants. Cotton, gauze or brown paper bags are handy to bring with you for storing your freshly harvested herbs, to keep them separated & protected. A note book would be handy for recording what & when you harvested, also impression you made get from certain plants & trees, so you’ll know which ones will share with you & which do not. Every plant & tree is alive and has a spirit, and each have their own unique energy, and it is worth learning these patterns & impressions, the plants & trees have much to teach if only we what take the time to listen. 

When harvesting wild plants that are some important things you need to considers:

  1. Never take more then what you need
  2. Always ask permission of the plant or tree before you harvest from it
  3. If you get an impression of “no” from a plant or tree, do not take from them
  4. Always thank the plant or tree and give it something as a thank you. Water, a song, a hug, a breath, a caress, herbs, tobacco, cornmeal, dried flowers, moon blood, a crystal, seeds, your tears, nature friendly offering stones (x) (x)

Every herb, root and berry has a different peak time for harvesting. Here are a few tips:

  • Leaves should be clipped before the flowers of the plant have opened. Leaves often are the most fragrant at this stage.
  • Gather flowers such as lavender when the plant first starts to open. 
  • Roots should be collected in the fall after the plant has begun to die. However, dandelion roots should be collected in the early spring. 
  • Seeds should be gathered in the fall when the seed starts to ripen. 
  • Harvest berries as soon as they are ripe, which is usually mid-summer to early fall.

Sources (x) (x)

Assassin's Creed Costumes Progress Report

There seems to be a little confusion as to who has confirmed and in what order. Below is the list, in order, of who I have made direct contact with via Twitter and/ or email.

Voice Actors

Noah Watts as Connor - (complete)

Philip Shahbaz as Altair (declined)

Cas Anvar as Altair (in progress)

Amber Goldfarb as Aveline (modified version - awaiting measurements)

Dan Jeannotte as Arno (awaiting measurements)

Adrian Hough as Haytham (attempting to reconfirm)

Roger Craig Smith as Ezio (can float depending on kickstarter)

Tristan Lalla as Adewale (

Steven Piovesan as Shay

I have made several attempts to contact Mr. Matt Ryan over the past couple months yet have received no response.  In light of that,  I have made the decision to stop pursuing the matter with him. 

Challenges

This project is daunting in its scope and the massive amount of time, energy and financial costs associated with it. I hope you all can understand why I need my kickstarter to be a success.   Noah’s costume totaled well over $1000 to make and ship.  That trend has continued with Cas’s outfit.  Anyone who has purchased 3D printed items, silicone mold making materials, resin casting components and procured large quantities of leather knows that these things are not cheap.  And all the little items add up fast.  Stains, grommets, snaps, zippers, lacing, trim, buttons, tools… before you know it the cost is in the hundreds.  

My Values

The quality of these costumes reflect who I am as a person and showcase to the world what I have to offer as a costume maker.  I refuse to use materials that are low in quality, create garments that are poorly constructed or accept anything that falls below my high standards.  This often means redoing things until I’m happy with them. I will not compromise on those standards!

The real reason I need your help!

The aforementioned nine actors are gracious enough to have accepted my offer to make them costumes.  Along with that, they have been infinitely understanding with my limited capacity and are waiting patiently to receive these gifts.  Though I have had to overcome obstacles in creating these pieces, they are works that come from my heart and are really on behalf of every Assassin’s Creed fan!  I know the love everyone has for this series; I’m a fan just like you!  I want so see this project fulfilled just as much as you do.  I simply can’t do it alone.

So please, even a small pledge helps.  I have rewards at the $5, $10 and $25 levels so consider if one of those works for your budget.  I understand that this time of year is challenging for many.  If everyone who reblogged or liked any of my previous posts just $5 each, I’d be a lot closer to my goal and perhaps even surpass it!

Click to donate!—->   KICKSTARTER  <—- Click to donate!

8

For Sale Soom Roxen USD 250 +shipping The doll had been painted by me using resin safe materials, the human parts have never been painted. The ears are sanded down to be smaller. Three fingers on the left fantasy hand has broken once and been glued with super glue. The paint has chipped a bit, I’ll repaint the nails before sending her out on request. The bits that close off the wing holes doesn’t fit perfectly. The wig and eyes are included if you want them. I accept splits: Body and fantasy parts 200 USD Human head and parts 100 USD Shipping will be around 50$ including tracking. Feel free to contact me if I have left something out

SOLD

4

Hey guys!

The aquarium is finally finished! I added a gauze top that has silver butterflies on it and tied a bow around it.  The bow took a while to tie since it was so small lol.  It also kept slipping off, but it’s done now! yay!  

You can see the progression of the aquarium here, starting from the bottom most picture, where I just laid down the stones and “algae”.  After, I made some “corals” and starfish out of polymer clay.  A seahorse was also made then glued to the rocks.  After the glue dried in gluing down everything, I poured a little bit of resin to cover the rocks so there is a smooth level to glue the yellow fish (so that is isn’t on the same level of the seahorse).  Once the glue for the yellow fish dried as well, I filled the rest of the bottle up with resin.

Materials: polymer clay, resin, glue, nail polish (for the eyes since it was sparkly nail polish), pebbles, sponge thing (for the algae)

Hope you guys like this piece! Feel free to message me if you guys have any questions!

Instagram: smallcreations

Youtube: smallcreationsbymel

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