My first attempt at creating my own figures has gotten all the way to a result of sorts. The process took a lot longer than expected: partly my own fault, due to my trying to juggle too many different projects simultaneously, but also due to the bizarre society in which we all live.
I live in a town with a population of 25,000 people, and to any rational observer it might seem that such a town would support a thriving shopping area. What we actually have is a high street with a large number of charity shops, interspersed with banks and building societies, a few genuine shops (none of which seem to have a long life) and a wide selection of places where you can get food poisoning or drunk, depending on your preference. To acquire something as rare as plasticine required a trip to the nearest city. Unadulterated talcum powder was not to be had, so my moulds are dusted with baby powder (relieving me from any anxiety over my soldiery getting nappy rash).
The Silicone rubber I bought on the web from Alec Tiranti's. The mould making was poorly executed (if anyone can claim to be able to control the wilful determination of silicon rubber to explore the world far from the confines of a mould I can only envy him). I let the moulds dry out for some time before attempting casting. My wariness on this point owed much to an incident in my youth when I poured metal into a damp plaster of Paris mould. This turned into an impressive demonstration of the power of the steam catapult, pieces of metal being deposited on the ceiling.
The Offending Article
I have so far cast just one infantryman, although I have the moulds for a cavalryman and his horse also ready. I wanted to paint my first figure up so I could assess whether the results were usable. This is the figure shown in the photo.
With any project like this there is always the danger that one will view the products on one's labour with the same level of impartiality as a mother has for her new-born babe. However, in this case, even I can see the figure has it's faults: I would describe it as hovering dangerously close to the limits of acceptability. In particular, the face came out looking more like a lunar landscape than a face (the photo shows the figure after it has been cleaned up considerably). The overall impression is encouraging though. It does at least conform to my most important criteria: correct (slim) bodily proportions and a pose that works well on the wargames table. If, on my first attempt, I can get a figure that is at least usable, then it is worth pursuing this in the hope that with experience, I will acheive better results next time.
My choice of uniform helps a lot here: it's taken from the Funcken depiction of the Karlstadter-Oguliner Croat on page 99 of volume 2 of the Lace Wars books. The reason for choosing this uniform is that it is bright and busy: something which distracts from the figure's many blemishes. On the wargames table (and with the aid of a 50 year old's eyesight) I am happy with the look of the figure. And there is one good feature of making one's own figures that applies here: if I sculpt a better figure in the future this fellow can be melted down and reborn again.