Tinsoldierfactory, 35 years of engraving
Thomas Urbaniak has been engraving tin flat figures for 35 years. A large part of the M&H range is also engraved by him. We visited Thomas in the beautiful Hanse-city of Stralsund in northern Germany.
How did you come across flat figures?With classmate I visited a tin figure exhibition in Magdeburg, my hometown at the time. From that moment I started to buy figures. All my money I got from my parents as used to buy flats.
Did you first collect figures?
Yes, I collected them for years before I started engraving myself. I focused primarily on the 7-years war. It was not always easy to find figures in the GDR at the time. When I was 16, it became easier. You could become a member of the culture-association and this had a tin department. You collected, exchanged and painted figures with other collectors. I was able to join the Tin Figures Department, where engraving was also taught.
And how did engraving began, 35 years ago?
After I moved to Schwerin, I joined the department there and really started engraving. Initially figures to supplement my own collection. That was about figures who were not yet there. In the years 1984 and 85 I visited the engraving courses of Horst Neumeister. From that moment on, others also started to show an interest in my figures. I was also invited to go to trade fairs. With that the tin figures ‘offizin’ was born.
Now under the name Tinsoldierfactory?
After the fall of the wall, the hobby expanded considerably. In 1993 I was in Kulmbach for the first time. From that moment on I sold my figures in many countries. After my move to Stralsund in 2007, I changed the name in TInsoldierfactory. The philosophy behind my "offizin" has remained the same: a protest against the mass consumer society. Everything I make handmade and made with the best materials.
Do you also engrave on assignment?
I like to take on assignments. But I must like the subjects and the drawings have to be good.
What are the nicest figures you have made?
I have some preferred figures. In particular Max und Moritz and my Lutter.
Still plans for the future?
Certainly. I still publish figures from the 7-years war, but now also from the American civil war and the German empire 1871-1914.
What about the future of the flat tin figure?
I see that as very positive. People increasingly focus on the traditional. Away from the computer. You also see it with books, which are also bought more. In addition, the tin figure will always remain something exclusive. No mass product for a mass audience.