While I'm waiting for the stone for the Falcon from Franeker to arrive, the other work, in the meantime, just goes on. Right now I'm working on a sandstone baldachin for St. John's Cathedral in 's-Hertogenbosch. A baldachin is a type of canopy under which the statue of a saint is supposed to stand.
Some years ago I participated for twelve years in carving sculpture for this Cathedral, from 1999 to 2010. In that period I carved lots of different things, from statues of saints and shield-bearers, from consoles, gargoyles, crockets, crockets and finials to reliefs and angels. And also two baldachins for the Sacraments chapel.
But that was on the other side of the church, and that side is looking very good now. A number of façades are being taken care of now for major repairs, and weathered natural stone is being replaced, including that side crocket I carved recently and now also this baldachin.
Today someone asked me whether I carve such a block myself and if I order the stone as well. That could have been possible, but with such a restoration as this, all of that is split up in several parts. First there is the restoration contractor, who carefully detaches this old block from the surrounding stonemasonry (of course a long trajectory has preceded all of this, but to keep it simple I'll just pass over that). The old block then goes to the designer at the architect's, who will measure it all and recreates it in AutoCad drawings. All the ornaments on it are drawn as little square blocks. From those drawings, profile templates are printed on plastic film at the stonemason's shop, which are used by the stonemason to carve a new squared piece of stone step by step into a baldachin. Only after that it's delivered at my place (or a colleague's of course). That stone, of course, comes out of a mountain, and not as many people seem to think out of a foundry.
That piece of stonemasonry then arrives at my yard and every part where I need to carve the little flowers a stone cube has been left in place. I have to reconstruct (usually in consultation) these flowers along the lines of the old piece , that is, try to find out what it once must have been like, instead of that dripping candle. As soon as I know what it should become, I start carving ornaments again out of all those cubes.
In this case, the suspended flowers are the trickiest part. Five of these protruding little hanging ornaments, have to be made on the underside of the block in this case. Three of those have to be carved in the round and I still don't know how I should go about that. Maybe I'll just hoist up the whole thing and stand beneath it to carve the work on the inside.
The stone for this piece is Udelfanger sandstone. I'm carving in this stone for the first time; usually it's Bentheimer. Every kind of stone has its ad- and disadvantages. I find that Udelfanger is very easy to work in, and easy to make everything very smooth and with a nice finish as well. And that's exactly what they did with it in neo-Gothic times: everything was totally sanded down and elaborated, almost to the point of becoming scary. Frankly I don't always like that. In the time of architect Pierre Cuypers that was the fashion, and once you see too much of that in one place it is a chilly affair. I always get a little bit sick from the interior of for example Castle Haarzuilens. So many details, and everything carved to perfection but without emotions. Brr.
Anyway, this one also requires that it's all defined quite sharply, and for that, Udelfanger is excellent. I'll let you see later what it's become like.