How a tin figure is made

What do you know about tin figures so far? You know the fairy tale of the Steadfast Tin Soldier? Respect! You know that there was a lot of playing with mass-produced lead and tin figures? Then you are almost an expert.

Nowadays, the small tin figures are no longer cast from old spoons like the twenty-five comrades in Hans Christian Andersen's tale. Thanks to excellent manufacturing techniques, the flat figures have developed into small cultural-historical works of art in recent decades. Historical themes from all epochs are depicted with them. Friends all over the world enjoy collecting, painting and composing vivid dioramas. Various artists and craftsmen are involved in the production of a tin figure.

Now you would like to know how a tin figure is made? Read and see here the story of how the tin figure THE PAPYRER FROM THE GÖLTZSCH came into being.

The unpainted tin figure The Papyrus by the Goeltzsch

The painted tin figure The Papyrus by the Goeltzsch

First: The concept

Together with my friend Udo, the idea of presenting a beautiful tin figurine in a high-quality paper packaging and combining both crafts was born out of mutual enthusiasm. The concept of the PAPYRER VON DER GÖLTZSCH was born.

Second: The draft

We asked Sascha Lunyakov, a Ukrainian artist from Leipzig, to draw designs for our idea. Sascha had already designed many well-known tin figures. After a few sketches and rounds of corrections, we received the final drawing of the figure on transparent paper, as the tin figure engraver needs it as a template. In the past, such a drawing was transferred onto parchment paper with ink. Sascha is a child of the times and now does this on the computer.

The illustration artist Sascha Lunyakov completing the watercolour diorama.

It is a long way from the first draft of a drawing to the final template for the engraver.


Third: The engraving

It was a great pleasure to win Regina Sonntag, one of the best tin figure engravers for our project. The engraver transferred Sascha's drawing with fine gravers in a slight depression onto highly polished slate stone. Parts that are later raised have to be deeply engraved in the stone. The engraver works both depthwise and mirror-inverted. Both halves of the stone for the front and the back must fit together exactly to the millimetre.

Master engraver Regina Sonntag in her workshop engraving the figure.


First, the outlines of the figure are transferred from the drawing onto the slate.


Engraving in slate requires strength and skill.


Tools and casting furnace. All channels are now laid for the perfect cast.


Fourth: The cast

Tin figures are made of an alloy of tin, lead, antimony and bismuth. Every engraver has his own special recipe. In order for the metal to penetrate the finest recesses, flow in quickly and allow the air to escape, the engraver has to draw casting channels and air holes, the "islands" as well as, cobweb-like channels, the "pipes" with a drawing needle. Special knowledge and skill are also indispensable for this.

Fifth: The deburring

Metal residues from the cast that still adhere to the figure are removed with the smallest needle files and a scalpel. The most careful work is required here, because otherwise the figure can quickly be damaged. Each individual figure is treated in this way by hand. This is also referred to as "cleaning" the figure.

Sixth: The painting

Comparable to classical miniature painting, special figures are artistically set in colour. Martin Lother, a master in this field, has created a sample figure of the papyrus for us. Tin figures can be painted with acrylic or oil paints. Shadows, highlights and ornaments are applied layer by layer or using the wet-on-wet technique.

The miniature painter Martin Lother colouring the tin figure in his studio.


The colours are applied layer by layer. First the face and the skin areas, at the very end the highlights.


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