Nostalgia is often a very powerful feeling. I recently had an almost compulsive desire to revisit one of my earliest creative memories. I'm not sure why exactly, but it was one of those odd itches that you suddenly feel must be itched.
I've been painting miniatures for a long time (a few 'life gets in the way' hiatuses aside), and this particular itch harked back to one of the first types of models I painted. Growing up in Ireland there was a company that provided the parts required to make and paint your own models. Just not quite in the way that we do these days.
Hell, I wasn't even sure if it was legal anymore.
You see, at some stage in the dim and distant past (the time known to history as 'the eighties'), they used to let children use molten metal to cast their own models. At least, we were allowed to do so in our house. The metal in question was lead, hence being unsure if they even let you do that anymore. Pretty sure they frown on letting anyone handle lead too much these days.
I suddenly wanted to find out if they did, if I could do so again.
The internet is a wonderful repository of memories, catalog of old habits, and even better, a place where people like to exchange currency for such things, so I searched. That search soon yielded the information that the company behind those things, Prince August, was indeed still around.
I just had to get one of the starter kits, including one of the molds that I recall having as a kid. it would make these three guys.
So how does it all work? You take the mold, use some powder to prepare it, and then seal the two halves closed with some clamps and elastic bands. You then take the bars of metal and melt them on a stove in the ladle. You use a piece of wood to gauge the temperature (by seeing how much smoke comes out when left in the now molten metal), and then you pour it into the mold.
A few minutes later, viola, you have some freshly cast miniatures! Let the thing cool for a while and you can soon pry out your completed models.
Sure, the quality of the cast certainly isn't up to the level of detail you find in modern tabletop products, but considering these molds are over thirty years old they aren't half bad. A quick paint job and they are soon looking ready for some action.
I'm not sure they are worth the extra hassle compared to just painting modern miniatures, but there was some fun nostalgia service in it for me. It reminded me of the genesis of my love for painting, and the source of some of my earliest creative urges, ones that I'm glad my parents supported. I do wonder how many would let their children 'play' with molten metal on a stove in this day and age. (important to note I am pretty sure we were always totally supervised while playing with molten metal! Truth be told my Dad probably actually cast them for us, memories are fuzzy that far back.)
It was a lot of fun anyway. The itch is scratched ... it almost felt a little like doing some time travel ... and that's always cool!