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Spotlight on Toy Soldier Craftsman: 3D Sniper!

3 10 years ago
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This week we turn our Spotlight towards 3D Sniper.
He grew up in a rural area, it was a small town called Ochten, an old roman trading post on the Waal river, with about 4500 inhabitents, 2500 of which within the build up or urban area, the rest being farms, most of them fruit orchards.
When he was 16 he moved to Rhenen, a 750 year old city with 10000 inhabitants, still small, but twice as big as where he came from and it is in between three of the Netherlands’ most significant nature reserves.

So Sniper when did you become a Toy Soldier?
I became a Toy soldier after (like many) discovering Dr Steel’s music online and looking into it further than I had before. My music taste had changed since last running into him online, as had my interests and view on the world. My registration date was the second day of may in 2010.
I saw this new message, I had come into the dutch fantasy world where people of all walks created things, mostly costumes, but also a lot of music, dance and other forms of art.
When I first came into contact with Toy soldiers in the physical world I just felt right at home, for the first time in.. my life possibly. That, combined with the messaged that Dr Steel started it gave me a sense of belonging. It was a sense so strong that in 2013, I had decided to dedicate my first tattoo to the group, I must say that I had some trouble choosing whether I wanted the steel logo, or the new robot head. I chose to go with the robots, as robots have always made for good companionship, when building them, sinking my soul into their code, my blood into their structures and tears into their electronics. That combined with 32894, my original TS enlistment number made for a nice, personalized tattoo that hods a lot of meaning to me. In November during a relapse of my depression (a depression I thought cured by joining the TS) I had thought about handing in my resignation due to recent events. Instead I have decided to go on doing what I do best and that is lurk in the backgrounds and observe how the group evolves and changes while I look for my own merry way to go and have FUN!

What all mediums do you work in as far as crafting goes?
I will work with just about any medium in the physical realm, but I reckon I am most well known for my fire and metal crafts, from weaving chainmaille to forging irons to casting aluminum. But my education and upbringing have always been electronics, which have become almost sort of an instinct for me, in college they would ask me for flow charts and calculations, which I would never have until I finished my projects.

What got you interested in creating things with your hands?

I have always had a lively imagination and was never very good at concentrating or sitting still, even though I have always been a quiet person, my brain was always working. I would think up contraptions, mostly functional, sometimes just for the fun of it. But I never had the impulse to go from a quick sketch that only I could interpret (due to lack of coordination) to go and actually make things, in fact most of my childhood was spent taking things apart and looking to find out what made them tick. In kindergarten I would refuse to do finger painting unless they gave me a brush.
Then Lego entered my world and I was never satisfied with the kits made for my age, and was always more interested in making things that moved and where rated 3-5 years above my actual age.
When I was 15 I went to a fantasy/ren fair and saw all the pretties, bought a €20 chainmaille starter kit and I got hooked! That quickly led to me building my own aluminum foundry but, as for any sculpting skills I quickly found myself dropping the hobby because my molds never came out looking the way I wanted.
I found out that the best way for me to create was through building blocks, whether they where Lego bricks, chainmaille rings or program codes, I found a way to express myself without making things look horrible. This is why I started to describe myself as “technically creative” I can make you just about anything you want but, may need a hand at making it look pretty.

What long term goals do you have for your crafting?

I would love to make a living off it, at the moment I do need a full time job to make sure I have the income if I want to go out and live on my own. Living in the Netherlands isn’t cheap and I have always described my jobs as being the bread and butter of my life but, my crafting being the toppings and cupcakes (speaking off, I can make a raisin and rum cupcake to die for). Recently I have found myself attracted to the notion or saying that “those who can’t do, teach” and I don’t mean this in the sense that I can not craft but, more in the way of not making enough money from crafting to live off of and teaching might be a way to fill that income void. This is why I am working on getting a mobile workshop together and start teaching workshops/introductory courses at schools, festivals and hacker spaces.
I would love to someday create a prop that for a film or series that will become an icon, whether it gets a mainstream following or it will forever be a cult hit is not my concern. The important thing is making things that will survive the ages, whether on celluloid, stage or embedded in a rock on a hill is my way of trying to be remembered and leaving a mark on this earth.

Do you have any advice to give to others who may want to get into chainmaille or metal working?
Just do it, chainmaille is so easy to get into, it is a low initial investment, (you can easily get started for 10-20 euros, pounds, dollars, ) however, you need to be really careful.. I have seen people quit smoking because they couldn’t afford to maintain their chainmaille hobby and as far as other metal crafts go.. it all depends on what you want to do. For sheet metal, you need to have a good pair of shears, a drill with assorted bits, and either a way to rivet things together (pop rivets look good and work well especially for non structural parts) Epoxy glue can be used as long as the project is not subject to large temperature swings, as epoxy will melt, and will become fragile when it gets too cold, after all, its just a plastic. They say you NEED to know how to weld, but when I made a jetpack for Alice, I couldn’t weld, but I picked a metal which I knew I could use tin to solder together, its not as strong and a bit harder to do but, cheaper, need less equipment, and you could do this inside your apartment, as long as you open a window, although burning rosin and molten lead smell great, its not good for you.
Blacksmithing, welding, and other types of ‘hot’ metal working require a yard. With soil or sand as a ground surface as molten metal might make concrete and bricks explode if there is any moisture locked in. Someone who knows what they are doing is nice but, I am completely auto-didactic as far as my crafts go, I read one or two tutorials and simply have a go at it. Just make sure you do take the proper safety precautions, ESPECIALLY when just starting out.

So what is in the works for you right now?

I just received a request for some examples of projects that I would be able to do with students together with a list of restrictions on my equipment. So I would say that the mobile workplace is the main thing in the works, together with a costume designed for my by the great Hungarian (Sgt. Grinner) that I will be using for performing with fire at festivals and events, most likely in the form of a gladiator battle.
Also I am working with several filmmakers, actors, fire artists and a choreographer to put together a video showcasing the suit, my fire arts and music made by Dan Bull
That, and I am looking for a job so I can afford all the necessary investments.

Thank you Sniper for sharing your story with us! It was great talking to you! *salutes* :)

If you would like to see more of Sniper’s work please check out his site!
Also Right now we are featuring some of Sniper’s work in our very own TSU Shop!


  1. Mike Bigelow

    Casting Aluminum is something I’ve always wanted to try out! It’s awesome to see a fellow soldier who shares this interest. :D

  2. Orbital Sciences Director Gonzo, YJ

    Another awesome interview!

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