I was first made aware of the work of Julia Kehle through one of the recent posts of the work of Nick Ball, who is associated with the British Flat Figure Society. He made reference to Julie as the engraver of flat he had just painted. There is also a video of her work that aired in Europe. You can watch on Vimeo.com here: https://vimeo.com/118106230. It will be of special interest to you if you speak German. It is interest even if you don’t speak German.

I contacted Julia for more information about her work as an engraver and painter. Because of the language differences, I took the liberty to change some of the spelling, but I left much of the word order in tact. It is a good reminder of the challenges language creates for us at times.

I want to thank Julia for taking time out of her schedule to provide such a complete account of her life in the world of flat tin figures.

How were you introduced to flat figures?

About 15 Years ago, I did work in a carpentrie who is restaurating antique furniture and also little others things. Around the Christmas time, we cast this beautiful Set of Christmas-Krippe, designed by the Schneider-Brothers Leipzig. They created them around 1920. My Ex-Boss taught me to paint them in an old traditional way . We used Schellack with Pigments. The way of painting is one Lay over the other. You cannot blend the colour like with oil paint.

When I saw this Figures first time, I was fascinated, and I knew, the Tin figures would be my big love 🙂 I loved to paint those Christmas-Krippe. Even when I did not work in the carpentry any more, on Christmas time I spent some days there, just to paint the figures. Today, I have the moulds and cast  and paint them every Year in my own Atelier, which is also my little shop for Tin figures.

Sometimes I go on Christmas markets, and sell them.

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How did you begin engraving your own figures?
 

Only with the Christmas figures I was not satisfied. I wanted to make my own Figures. I always loved horses, and still do. A few years I visited horse races. The Thoroughbreds fascinate me. The beauty and the speed. But behind the racetrack, there is a lot of sad things to see, and I would never to be born as a Racehorse 😉 Anyway, I wanted to engrave Race horses and sell them on the Race tracks. In Switzerland we have not so many Racing days, so it was easy to go on a few Sundays.

With only a few books and experiments, how to engrave, I made my first Figures. It was a frustrating work. Dont know how many hours or Days I did engrave with 2 or 3 Tools. One good Kitchenknife died and my Fingernails too. My Language became rude sometimes and I lost patience a few times 😀

Well, at the end, I was aible to cast the moulds and paint the race horses with Paint oil and Pigments, as best as I was able to do. I had no other Figures to compare, and no Internet. So I was thinking, that way I painted, was the top result. Now I have to smile about 🙂

All that happened in the Year around 2002 I think. I had no one teaching me to become better, and so I did stop with engraving. I thought I am not talented enough, and it was not real fun. But I was able to sell a good amount of Race horse figures on the Racetack. I painted the Horses the real colours and the blouses of the Jockeys too. People could even order their own little Race horse. That was more fun than engraving at that time 😀 Well, life carried me away from the Tin figures, and more than 10 Years had to pass, until they found me again.

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The Comeback with my own Atelier:

In the Year 2010 I found my little 30 quadratmeter Room to open up my Atelier. It is in the same little village I live and one minute by feet to walk. The Room has been the “Frigidaire room” for the People who live here in Schneisingen. In Times, when not every house had a Fridge to keep Food cold, they could rent a little Place in that room, and freeze their breads and meat and others. So this room was many years empty. I was lucky, that I could rent it for “an apple and egg”. That means, the rent is so cheep, that I would have been stupid not to spend that little amount by month. Well, there is no water and no window, but it is not a real problem.

With my husband together, we created the Atelier for Tinfigures! One Part of the room was reserved for secondhand articles for horse riding. Bit after 3 Years I did stop it, because no real interest by the Horse riders. They wanted to have new things. So there is more place for my little friends the Flat Tinfigures.

I started up with Christmas figures, and continued with the racehorses. Not engraving Figures that time, but painting and selling them.

And one thing opened up the big world of Tinfigures: The world wide web!!

I found Mr. Karl-Werner Rieger on my search for racehorses! He engraved a good amount of different racehorses and others, and so my Idea, to sell them painted on the racetrack came back to my head. I also had a drawing I made years ago, for a trotter. So I asked Mr. Rieger, if he would engrave it. And he did! I was so happy! On following photographs you see me with my selling table on the race track and the little race horses! It was a lot of fun, and I am sure, I will go once again. Maybe next Year.

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The New Start of engraving Flatfigures:

Mr. Rieger was my first “mentor by mail” 🙂 The wish to try again, to make my own figures, did wake up again. Still the horses were Nnmber one in my mind. So I found a nice painting from William Webb: The Godolphin-Barb or some say the Godolphin-Arabian. This horse has been one of the 3 Breeders of the Thoroughbreds and came from Marokko. The stable boy, the groom, was the only one who could handle the stallion, and he was on the side of the horse until it died in England.

Mr. Rieger helped me with his experience through the engraving, and I was so proud, when I hold “my Godolphin-barb” in my hands! This has been the start of many other Figures. Some good, some just ok, some very nice. Not only horses anymore, but I always come back to them.

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My Atelier for Flat Tinfigures today:

Without the help from Mr.Rieger , and specially Andreas Trost (Reutlinger Zinnfiguren), and so many others, I would not be able to engrave Figures. For the painting one book did open up my eyes wide: From Mike Taylor, how to create and paint Flats. There I saw the first time, how beautiful Flats can be painted. Well, and that was the start for trying better than I did at that time.

Also I became a member of a Forum www.figure-mad.com  , and there a lot of Figure-Freaks helped me with their experience.

My Atelier is Home for a lot of Flat Tin figures;-) Sometimes they knock on the door, and ask me to let them in. Of course i do! 😀

In the Video on my Homepage, you can have a little look, how they live. So, I guess I did talk enough! I wish you a good time and fun with all the beautiful flats in this world! Greetings, Julia

A few fotographs here:

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Thank you, Julia.

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