A small sandstone head for Eusebius

row of 9 heads in the Eusebius Church. In front is a head of a woman with hood
A small head in Udelfanger sandstone

I had a small job in December for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands) again. High in the upper side wall of the south transept are 9 small heads embedded inside the wall. Three of those are old heads, which were made in the Middle Ages, four are from the 50s of the twentieth century, and one head is missing. I was asked to carve a new head for the empty spot. The additions of the 50s clearly show the traces of that time, and that will probably be true for mine as well. It proved quite difficult to carve a primitive head and to restrain myself so that it won't end up all too detailed.

Taking turns

The heads in the church wall were placed alternately: every time a corbel from the last century is interspersed with a medieval one. The latter are the simplest ones, and also the example that I want to go back to. Unfortunately it is not all that easy, because there is a beautiful woman's head in red sandstone between the others. This lady has a beautiful elaborate hood. Fortunately, much reference material can be found in the book on St. Eusebius's Church. You won't find any new books anymore, but perhaps it can still be found online ↑. In this book, there are many images of the corbels with small heads, except for this series, regrettably. And I saw a few pictures of old sandstone corbels from the Arnhem Municipal Museum, which, like the red lady, were beautifully carved. But that wasn't the way I was headed.

Simple faces

medieval corbel with headThe other corbels have primitively carved eyes, simple faces and thick lips. I also found a photo inside the book of a corbel that was sent to an Australian chapel as a gift, which has a similar shape. So that's what I've looked for in this small head corbel. The little guy got a page haircut and thick lips, and big floppy ears. I made a rough and small maquette in clay and then carved it into Udelfanger sandstone. The stonemason had already done the profile work. A bit of a pity, for I would have held on to the rough shape of the old corbels. I've just tried if it was better if I scraped it all smooth, but then it all went a bit dead, So I left it with a chisel stroke. It is always difficult to work from photos, so I hope it fits well within the range.

 

 

new corbel with primitive little head

 

Beeldhouwerijblog.nl is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well: beeldhouwerijvanvelzen.nl

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Presawing Pope Leo the Great

Pope Leo the Great upper body

Another saint's statue

stained glass window of Pope Gregory

Pope Gregory looked suspiciously like Pope Leo

stained glass window with inscription Gregor . Magn.

But the name of this pope is at the bottom of the window: Gregorius Magnificus

As you might remember I copied the statue of Thomas Aquinas for St. John's Cathedral earlier this year. That statue has now been installed and I could move right on to the next one: Pope Leo the Great. It's a one hundred year old statue of a bearded man with a tiara, a book and a Byzantine cross. At first I thought it represented Pope Gregory the Great in stone, because the stained glass window behind the statue shows a similar Pope: also with a book and a Byzantine cross and tiara, but without a beard and with a dove.

Attila the Hun

Cracks in the face of the statue of Pope Leo

weathering traces in the face

But it turned out that I was mistaken after all, partly because the console of this statue shows Attila the Hun crouching. In the year 452 the Hun Army was camped near Lake Garda, with plans to attack Rome, but Pope Leo visited him and talked it out of his head. Talk about power of persuasion. Pope Gregory only came a hundred years later.

Weathering process

robe of the statue of Pope Leo has weathered

disappeared folds in the garment

The two statues of Thomas Aquinas left in a crate headed for Den Bosch, where the new statue was placed on the church and the old statue was put in the museum. By return mail I received the old statue of Pope Leo back. On my scaffolding visit I noticed that the statue still had almost all its details, but the stone wasn't in a very good condition.

Just like Thomas, the statue was made of Udelfanger sandstone. The material has been applied vertically at the time, and that has had an impact on the weathering: vertical traces of watering and the disapperance of a number of folds of his garment. The statue also shows serious exfoliation on the back and if nothing happened now you'd have a chance that in a decade many details will be much stronger affected, which would make it very difficult to make a proper reconstruction of it.

Vertical layering

foot of the statue of Pope Leo the Great

crumbled pleats

As I explained in the first article about the statue of Thomas Aquinas it's not desirable to have the stone's layers run vertically through the statue. But it is not always possible to avoid that. In the quarry, the thickness of the right layer is not more than about 120 centimeters, and the statue is at least 150 cms tall. Over a hundred years ago they picked a horizontal piece of stone for that reason and put it straight up. This is known as standing layering. But this time I need to make a statue, in which the layers run horizontally. That can only happen if I make this statue out of two pieces. A body out of one piece, and a piece with the head and shoulders.

Presawing

presawing the new statue, step 2

presawing the lower part, step 2

I had already had some blocks of stone lying in the yard: a remaining piece of the Thomas torso and the second half of the block from which I've presawn Serge's angel. Those two pieces were not mine, but they belonged to St John's. After consultation it was decided that I could use these two blocks for this statue. I started reconstructing the missing parts with plastiline clay. Next up was the presawing of the lower body, in three steps from coarse to fine. This was followed by the same process for the upper body.

Next step

presawing head of the new statue, step 2

Presawing the shoulders and head, step 2

After this will come the rough carving of the two pieces, at the point where the seam should be. The plan is to follow the lower line of the cross on the chasuble of the pope. It will be a difficult job! I'll keep you informed of the continuation of this interesting challenge.

presawing the new statue, step 3

presawing lower body ready

Beeldhouwerijblog.nl is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well: beeldhouwerijvanvelzen.nl

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Year review of 2019

250th blog post

2019 was a great year! I've had all sorts of things in progress, among which a lot of ornaments for the Utrecht Cathedral and the Eusebius Church in Arnhem. Time for an annual review of 2019.

Blue sodalite

woman in blue stone Not everything I've done this year has been published on my blog. For instance, I carved a few things for other sculptors. One was a large sculpture in blue sodalite, of a stylized lady. I copy-sawed the plaster maquette into the new stone and then carved and polished it. This material is difficult to work in, but it has an overwhelming color. I'm sure once installed in the right place, it will make a big impression. Through all those vivid colors it becomes hard to see its shapes in my photo, but upright and under good lighting conditions (not under my roof with subdued light) it will be easier to recognize the shapes. Since it was made for another sculptor, I made no mention on this blog at the time. I did though in a blog post show how I cut the block to size with a chainsaw.

Holocaust Monument

The painting in of the details in the crack

One of those projects for another sculptor was a small job that I did last week for Gerard Overeem in granite: the carving of a crack in a Monument to the Holocaust. The crack represents the suffering caused by the persecution of the Jews that has left its traces. Read here↑ the corresponding newspaper article. In an earlier newspaper article more information about the monument. It is to be unveiled on 27 January 2020 in Barneveld.

Thomas Aquinas

copy of statue of Thomas Aquinas beside reconstructed original

The copy of the statue of Thomas Aquinas was a project that almost took this entire year. In November 2018 I received the original sculpture in my yard and started with its reconstruction, in March 2019 I cut the block of Udelfanger sandstone to size and I started presawing. I also started enthusiastically on the rough carving of the two parts and fitting the pieces exactly together, but suddenly all kinds of commissions came and interfered before in October 2019 finally I was able to finish the statue.

Pope Leo the Great

presawing the upper body of Pope Leo in sandstone presawing the lower body of Pope Leo in sandstoneAfter I had shipped this statue, I could skip ahead to the next statue for St. John's Cathedral in 's-Hertogenbosch: Pope Leo the Great. At the time of writing this, the work on this statue is halted as well because of a trip to India, the above holocaust memorial and a commission for carving a Japanese Lantern. But I was able to presaw the two parts of the statue entirely, so I can expeditiously start carving them in the new year. This statue also stands on the north side of St John's Cathedral in Den Bosch, that is, to the left from the statue of Thomas I mentioned above.

A Japanese lantern

Copying  of granite Japanese lanternIt may seem that I took a long time carving these two statues, but that's nothing compared to the last piece I worked on this year. For the Japanese Garden of Clingendael Estate in The Hague I made a quote in May 2017 already, and only now I get to carve it. I was asked to carve a reconstructed copy of a weathered Japanese lantern out of Bavarian granite. I'm already well on the way, but I still need to carve a lobed base and then sort out the details with the client. A blog post will follow soon!

A marble birdbath

a marble birdbath in the shape of a duck. Annual Review 2019Sometimes you get out-of-the-ordinary commissions. A client had modeled a bird bath in the shape of a duck as a boy and now he wanted it in his garden in marble. Of course that's possible. Unfortunately his clay model had disappeared, so I first had to reconstruct it. Alongside is a picture from halfway through the carving process.

Pan in porphyry… again?

Pan in porphyry: carved the legsAt the end of October I was able to find two days for working on my sculpture of Pan in Red Porphyry. As you can read in my last post about it I had just started with rough carving when I had to put it aside. That was almost two years ago (March 2018).

But I had to put the sculpture aside again quickly this time as well because I had to take on other projects first, such as Pope Leo. Yet I was able to roughly carve the hooves, the face, the hands and the flute. So far, I've been working it for only five days altogether. I hope I can find more time in the coming year and be able to finish the sculpture.

A small head for the Eusebius Church in Arnhem

a simple head in Udelfanger sandstone for Eusebiuskerk. Annual Review 2019The Eusebius Church contains various sculptural parts. The quality varies from very finely carved to fairly primitive, and dates from the construction time to present day. Somewhere in a side transept of the church, at the very top, missing a small cup of men ↑ in a row of 9 rather primitive homemade heads. Three of those were from the construction period of the church, and three of them dated from the 1960s. I was asked to carve a new head for the empty spot. It only had to look just as primitive as the others. That proved to be quite tricky! Someone told me that you'd best ask for a mason or a beginner to carve it, they might hit upon the right atmosphere. So I just made it into a little man with a page haircut.

More for St. Eusebius's church: Two huge finials

finial blocks for Eusebius Church ready for shippingBy far the majority of the work of this year was spent on carving ornamental work for two large finials and surrounding ornamental work on the northern transept of the Eusebius Church. Stide, Jelle, and I, partly with support by Serge, had months of work to carve all that.

We carved ornaments in two types of red sandstone for this north aisle, in Udelfanger sandstone and in Massangis limestone. It was so much work that I was in for a joke at the end.

Carving ornaments for the Utrecht Dom Cathedral twice

Large crockets in  weiberner tufa for the Utrecht Cathedral

completed crocets in Volvic basaltic lava, wet by rain

But Eusebius Church was not the only church which we made ornaments for. Having ended the previous year with 29 tufa side crockets for the south chapel of the Dom Cathedral in Utrecht, we got more big crockets this summer, in Volvic Basaltlava this time. These twenty large crockets we have been sharing between the four of us (Serge, Stide, Jelle and I) and despite delays we were able to complete them just in time.

Carving ornaments on the Utrecht Dom tower

test crockets for Dom tower UtrechtAdmittedly, it was but a small pilot project, and the main work on the Utrecht Dom Tower has yet to arrive. But at a time when the scaffolding around the tower was still not up, Jelle and I scrambled up all 465 steps of the Dom Tower with all our tools on two days, and carved a few test ornaments at the very top, so that the approach of the next part can be determined. Fortunately it was beautiful weather and we had a magnificent view.

Coat of arms in Udelfanger sandstone

small coat of arms in Udelfanger sandstone completedFor the front façade of a farm in the east of the country I made this small relief with a family crest in October, in Udelfanger sandstone. In order to keep it lively, I chose a baroque shield shape, so it really stands out on the façade.

 

Coat of arms in bluestone

bluestone coat of arms with two falcons. Coat of Arms, coat of arms, relief with crest/coat of arms, family crestsThe coat of arms that I finished later in that same month of October was much larger: 41 x 66 cms tall. It will be inserted in a restored parsonage, on the outside, somewhere in Belgium. I had a lot of fun shaping the flowing undulations of the mantling and the tiny details of the helmet.

Sculpture of The Night

Sculpture The Night by Eduard Kuilsburg- new copy in Muschelkalk limestoneBut it was not all ornamental carving work, I also had some sculptures in progress. For the west facade of the tower of St. Eusebius's Church I carved the large corbel with the sculpture of The Night out of limestone: a naked lady with a nest of owls beside her. To accelerate the process, I cut it and its counterpart, The Day, on my presawing machine. It only just fitted: I had to cut away some corners, otherwise this lady couldn't even turn around inside the machine.

Flying Buttress Figurines: Seven Sins

Carving a copy of flying buttresses figurine RageIt had been very lively last year and the year before especially with carving flying buttress figurines. That was a bit less this year, because the ornaments demanded all of our attention. We only had one flying buttress to go, with the Seven Sins depicted on it. Jelle made the Vanity, the Gluttony and the Greed, Stide got Envy and Lust, and I made the last two.

The Anger was a flying buttress statue of a man with a contorted face pulling a knife. He looked rather primitive, in his bearskin. As the only man among all the women, he actually had not much to complain, but he was clearly not happy with it.

flying buttress figurine Laziness completedThe Idleness on the other hand, ie the Sloth, didn't mind so much. She sat back a little, caressing her workhorse, in her provocative dress, and seemed more concerned with her own laziness.

A boulder with house numbers

boulder with house number- finishedFor a building in Amersfoort I carved a large boulder of red granite into a house number. Maybe I will be gilding the numerals one day for clarity.

A tree with rocks

For the same building I helped making a work of art for its residents: for each resident I made a stainless steel tree leaf with their own rock on it, which were all made into one big tree. It was a lot of work to cut everything out, bending the leaves, welding and glueing them, especially since I'm not equipped too well for metalworking. It was a lot of fun to make. Painter Sandra Nanning turned the staircase into a three-story encompassing tree.

A spoonbill from Haarlem

clay maquette and stone spoonbillNot all sculpture to be replaced has suffered from weathering. Sometimes sculpture disappears because of renovations and later on, residents want it back again on their building, and sometimes something is stolen. Such was the case with a buddha's head, a pelican and a spoonbill in Haarlem. Fortunately, the pelican was found again. I made a copy of the spoonbill after first reconstructing it, and Jelle accounted for the buddha head.

A lot of work for my colleagues

Presawn Angel for St. John's Cathedral in Den BoschAs you might have understood, I work regularly with my colleagues Serge van Druten, Stide Vos and Jelle Steendam. They, like me, all three have their own independent businesses. Only Jelle works in my shop; Stide has his own workshop next to me and Serge 20 kilometers away. I like having my colleagues around and being able to share larger contracts.

But I am the only one with his own presawing machine. That means that I regularly get the request to presaw something for the others too. Jelle also can properly handle the machine, so he'll be sawing for me sometimes and mainly for himself. But Jelle and I have also often enough presawn sculptures for Stide and Serge. I also usually keep track of the big picture, the tenders and the distribution of all joint projects, such as Eusebius Church and the Utrecht Cathedral.

repairing a broken vase. Year review of 2019Jelle mainly operates under my supervision, but he also takes on his own work (have a look at his website). So I regularly pass on things to him that are too much for me to take on. Sometimes he would take a little longer than I would do, That's because I do this work, of course, for a longer time. Unfortunately we have no specific training for restoration sculpture in Netherlands, so the work itself is his training. This year for example Jelle restored some garden ornaments.

New year: musicians and apostles

weathered figurines of the musicians in storageWhat's coming up next year? The most important work coming up is all of the ornamental work that we are going to get from the restoration of the Dom Tower in Utrecht. Balustrade finials, gargoyles and various other ornaments.

Next, we will be getting work from flying buttress no. 14 and 16 of St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem. Flying buttress no. 14 consists of a group of 7 musicians and no. 16 contains a number of apostles. These are the last sculptures that sculptor Eduard van Kuilenburg made for the church, and in these we can see a transition to a somewhat more angular style. There were at the time of completion (around 1956) already alarmed questions from the church council about the "overcrowded flying buttresses’ that this led to, even though the block size was no larger than that of the previously created sculpture groups around the choir. Especially the apostles have massive fists and lumpy heads. We're looking forward to copying them into new stone (if you want to know why these figuries are replaced: read this article about the Ettringer tuff ↑ of which they were made).

Boxes full of debris and more sculpture to go

crates with flying buttress figurines that are yet to be copied.So that adds up to fourteen sculptures for flying buttresses nos. 14 and 16, for which we expect to get the new stone blocks in early January. We have been reserving a spot for those. But there are still 12 boxes more in our storage and a group of loose sculptures outside in the yard, which will all have to be copied one day.

Some of these other sculptures are heavily weathered because they started to shatter after the impregnation process and fell to pieces, and they're lying as a layer of debris at the bottom of the boxes. It will still be an interesting project to reconstruct them. If that happens at all, because people are currently considering an alternative way to fill the empty spaces. We sent in our estimate already anyway :).

All other blog posts from the past year

I wish you all a very good, educational and creative New Year. Thank you all for following this blog!

Beeldhouwerijblog.nl is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well: beeldhouwerijvanvelzen.nl

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Flying buttress figurine: The Idleness

-to the first post about of this flying buttress- ↑

first stage of rough carving The Idleness

Acedia

The next flying buttress figurine from arc 24 of St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem wasn't entirely clear to me. We've seen all seven sins pass by, except Sloth, sometimes called idleness, laziness or inertia, so this one had to be it.

Idleness

next stage in carving flying buttress figurine The IdlenessI just don't know how the sculptor had originally intended this. I also thought at first that this one was Pride, or Hubris, a lady with voluptuous bosom that sits high on horseback. Or maybe it should depict a donkey?

Dolce Far Niente

flying buttress figurine Idleness completedMaybe this lady portrays the lack of direction of a bored rich lady, spending her days with useless things and letting the workhorses do the work? "Idleness is the devil's earcushion,’ as an old saying goes, though I always thought they meant you really had to be flexible if you wanted to give the devil a kiss on his ear. This lady is in any case sufficiently limber!

However it may be, I just copied the sculpture as it was. While working I noticed that not only the breasts threatened to fall overboardfrom her gown, but even the nipples are in focus. "It's must be feeding time again', commented my mate Stide. 'How so??’ I asked.

‘Well,’ he said, 'The piglets are already looking over the trough!’

Structure

flying buttress figurine Idleness completed

The old sculpture had a heavily weathered surface, but I noticed something that hinted the sculptor had carved something of a structure and had made the suggestion of a thick woolen dress. I tried to imitate that by first bush hammering, horse and dress and carving short, shallow lines into the dress with a pointed chisel, resulting in a lively surface.

Dog-Latin

sculpture The Envy -presawing

presawing Envy, step 2

In a previous post on this flying buttressI told you about the theme that these sculptures convey: the seven deadly sins. Each figurine we have carved so far (and Jelle has made three out of these seven) has been given a Latin name in the profile on the side: Superbia for Vanity, Gula for Gluttony, Ira for Rage, Avaritia for Greed, This Laziness or Idleness is called Acedia, and then later Stide will be adding Luxuria for Lust and Invidia for Envy. Which are both on their way as well.

A mysogynous sculptor?

sculpture The Envy -presawing

presawing Envy- step 3

Some ladies noted that women come down quite badly in this series, because actually only the Fury is a male. This went against their sense of justice and some of them therefore ascribed a very negative view of women to the original sculptor.

But even in the next series, which should represent the seven Virtues, the majority is shown as female as well. The conclusion is clear: Eduard van Kuilenburg,, who carved almost all of the flying buttress figurines in the 1950s , had no trouble with women. On the contrary: he would rather carve images of women than men. That would explain why there are so many women among these sculptures.

Measuring up

carving the profiles on Idleness

The profile leans 5 degrees to the left with respect to the wall face, and 61 degrees downwards

Because with the previous flying buttresses often the topmost sculpture didn't fit quite right inside the surrounding wall surface, I especially went to St. Eusebius's church along with Remon Theissen from Slotboom Stonemasons to measure how the arc is positioned relative to the church. A visit to the church is always a wonderful opportunity to see how our work from the last months looks in its rightful place. And again it was clear to me how much skill is invested in this restoration. The finished part looks awesome, and our previous flying buttress figurines with the trumpet angels, wise maidens, foolish maidens and crippleds from the Beatitudes fit right in.

flying buttresses Eusebius's church, south side flying buttresses Eusebius's church, south side flying buttresses Eusebius's church, south side flying buttresses Eusebius's church, south side flying buttresses Eusebius's church, south side

Beeldhouwerijblog.nl is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well: beeldhouwerijvanvelzen.nl

I'm also on Instagram
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If I'd commission a coat of arms in stone… what should I bear in mind?

Copy of old family crest, sandstone.

I often get asked what it costs to have a coat of arms carved in stone. However, I noticed that there is often still a lot of confusion for many customers. Why is it so expensive, why there are different price ranges for the same crest, and in what are you different from others? What is the surplus value to have a family crest carved by a sculptor, instead of …Read the whole article…

Bluestone family crest completed

bluestone coat of arms with two falcons. Coat of Arms, coat of arms, relief with crest/coat of arms, family crests

The bluestone coat of arms on which I recently shared a post has now been completed. I've carved it out of a piece of Belgian bluestone (arduin) of 41 x 66 x 16 cms tall. After the last post that I shared about it, I've been busy for a long time with making everything sharper and sanding all the details, in order to remove all false dents. Also, all were small …Read the whole article…

A bluestone coat of arms with two falcons

Bluestone stone coat of arms

I merrily went on to the next commission, another stone coat of arms this time. The previous one was a smaller relief with only the shield. That required a little more attention to the shape of the shield, to make the design a bit more interesting. But this coat of arms is quite extensive in itself because of the helmet, the mantling and the crest. I prefer deeply carved coats of arms, and this is no exception: the total depth of the relief …Read the whole article…

The flying buttress with the seven sins-2: carving!

Copying flying buttress statue Rage. Photo during the carving of the detailsAs you may perhaps remember: on 9 March 2019 I posted a blogpost about our next series of flying buttress figurines to be carved for St. Eusebius' church, which arrived in pieces in our yard. These images were impregnated with acrylic resin, but something went wrong and they burst out …Read the whole article…

copy of Thomas Aquinas completed

-Click on the pictures for more details-

the two parts of the sculpture are glued together

7. The parts are glued together

beginning with carving the head

8. starting to carve the face and bird

Thomas in two parts

After long interruptions (carving finials for St. Eusebius's Church and large crockets for the Utrecht Dom Cathedral out of limestone) the statue of Thomas Aquinas is finally finished. In my previous blog posts you can read who this man was and how I reconstructed the sculpture, and how I started the copying of the statue with a lot of sawing.

When I picked up the thread were …Read the whole article…

Small coat-of-arms in Udelfanger sandstone

Small coat-of-arms in a baroque shape

small coat of arms in Udelfanger sandstone completedFor a customer I made a small coat-of-arms in Udelfanger sandstone. Since this time no mantling and helmet were added, I chose a somewhat more baroque shield shape to make it a lively relief. I also Shield …Read the whole article…