Last week I received an old sandstone falcon. This came from the façade tympanum of the Valckenier House Franeker. This house was built in 1662 as a residence for Reverend Valckenier, and therefore it received a Falcon as an identifier.
The Valckenier House has been refurbished and would like to go shop the market. But the municipality put a condition that the falcon was back on the roof. Therefore, the developer went, Elizen Property from Twello, looking and found the statue somewhere in Franeker in store (by retired fellow sculptor Anske de Boer). The old falcon was in pieces and I was asked whether I could recover. My response was that I could do so, but the stone was so weak that I could not guarantee that the old falcon not in time again would come falling down. I have therefore proposed to create a reconstructed copy of the same stone, based on the ancient falcon.
At first I thought it was an odd bird with a somewhat strange head, until I figured out that it, of course, must have worn a falconer's hood. Added to that, the beak of course has completely weathered away. It used to be attached to the gable with an iron pin , and that has been the main cause of the serious damage.
(update: in retrospect it appears I've interpreted this correctly. As stated in the comments below this article falls, Falcon occurs in the arms of the Valckenier family. A distant ancestor of John Valckenier was employed by the Duke of Gelre. Due to a sordid case 1580 he had some time under the name Geelrok in the anonymity, why the falcon in the family crest got his cap.)
The iron had started to rust and had split the base by expanding. Add to this the fact that the legs and tail were carved completely free , the salty sea breeze coming from the Wadden Sea, and the hugely acidic droppings from pigeons and seagulls that regularly occupied a vantage point on top of the falcon, then it makes sense that even the durable Bentheimer sandstone gave out in this case.
Next week I'll start restoring the Falcon, in anticipation of the new stone I ordered. I will also reconstruct the missing parts in Plastiline-clay, so I can carve a proper copy.
On the old Falcon I found lots of traces of gilding. Therefore the new Falcon as well will be gold-plated in its entirety.
Update: Putting the falcon together again
The old falcon was first, put together using two stainless steel threaded rods, epoxy adhesive and restoration mortar. Then I added the missing parts with plastiline clay. This is clay that never hardens. The old falcon had a huge gap between the shoulders, where for centuries the seagull's droppings did their corrosive work. The beak and talons had suffered too, whereas the wings and the rest of the legs were still relatively sharp. So Bentheimer sandstone can remain well over 300 years in good condition! If only not too many seagulls perch on it.
Because of the rusting of the iron support pin, the wing tips and the tail had broken off and disappeared. I added those first in plastiline before I started carving.