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Christian Tin Miniature
December 10, 2010 15:01


Christian tin miniature is a modern type of Christian decorative and applied art of creating miniature sculptures. The handicraft appeared in the late 20th century in Russia in the midst of revival of the Russian Orthodox Church after communistic persecutions. It stands aside from the military and historical tin miniature and uses a combination of Christian round sculpture, iconography and ancient technology of tin cast moulding.

The miniatures can depict figurines of holy saints or scenes from the Bible stories. The small sculptures are not subjects of cult religious worship. Tin miniatures represent a live tradition of the Byzantine art and craft of ivory-carving of round sculptures - the craft that was lost in the 12th century. The only difference lies in technology.

The church has a controversial attitude to the kind of Christian creativity, since the traditional form in Orthodoxy is the icon-painting. Aversion to sculpture in Orthodoxy is associated with some historical bans on cult sculpture in the church.

But the authoritative theorist of church art L.A.Uspensky points out: “The Orthodox Church did not only ever forbid sculptural images, but … there cannot be such an interdiction at all, because it cannot be justified by anything”. In the first centuries AC the Church did not reject the sculpture. There are proofs to that fact, for example, quite numerous statues of “the Kind Pastor” that have come down to us.

Stages of Manufacture

The sculpture moulding begins with making a skeleton – the hands, legs, body, and the head - of copper wire. The skeleton should correspond to anatomic proportions as much as possible. Then the sculptor moulds the master-model figurine out of polymer clay. When ready, the master-model is baked in the stove.

Then a cast is taken from the master-model: one side of the model is enveloped in plasticine and thermal sealant is poured onto the other side. Then the sides are change and the second part of the mold is made of the thermal sealant. If a model is too complicated it can be divided into smaller details, which are later cast separately.

An alloy of tin and lead is heated in an enamel pot on the stove up to the temperature of around 200 to 250 centigrade and is poured into the molds (two sides of the mold preliminary fastened together with a rubber band). It takes tin around 3 to 5 minutes to solidify. When the figurine is cast and hardened, a variety of instruments, such as a scalpel, a needle point file, a soldering tool, and even dental drill are used to fuse pieces together and polish all the tiny details. Every miniature sculpture can possibly contain around twenty details.

The miniature is afterwards subjected to patination or toning, or is painted. Before painting the surface of the figurine is ungreased and primed. Acrylic paints or tempera colours, which are typical for icon-painting, are used for painting the figurines. If necessary some painted details are covered with a varnish coating.

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Sources:
academic.ru
Russian Wiki


V.Ivanova


Tags: Russian Arts and Crafts Russian Souvenirs Russian Orthodox Church Russian Sculpture  

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