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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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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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…

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…

Ornaments in basaltic lava for the Utrecht Dom Cathedral

large crockets in basaltic lava for the cathedral of Utrecht, ready for transportThese last months were a period when we were mainly busy carving stone ornaments. After all the carving of crockets for finials of St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem we went straight ahead with these large crockets in basalt lava for the Utrecht Cathedral. During my vacation the blocks were …Read the whole article…

Two stolen facade reliefs: a head and a spoonbill

My comeback on this blog!

I've recently had many different projects in progress and have just not gotten round to post any messages about them on this blog. But, fortunately we still have the pictures, as the businessman said when he saw his million dollar yacht sinking. This project has been an interesting challenge in between all the ornamental work. The job on hand was about two facade reliefs of a spoonbill and buddha head from Haarlem.

The original stone ornaments came from the façade of the Lutheran Orphan's and Old Men's Home, which was built in 1906. After the demolition of this home, the stones were reused in the garden wall of the Vitae Vesper Elderly Nursing Home that in 2015 was demolished again itself. An apartment building was constructed on this site and the reliefs remained behind, discarded and orphaned. The Lutheran Church Administration wanted to …Read the whole article…

Boulder and oak-tree and stone

A stone-tree for the group home

Today in Amersfoort, a new group home for people with a mild intellectual disability was inaugurated. I've lately been involved (pro deo) in a number of things in the new home, including the stone-tree and the boulder in the garden. Read here↑ an earlier post about the boulder.

The stone-tree was a special project for me, because it led me to undertake several things that I do not normally do. It's a long story, so let's start at the beginning!

The mad squire in 1661

boulder and oak- pulling the Amersfoort boulder, on an old print

Each Amersfoort resident knows the story of the mad squire and the Amersfoort boulder. Or, at least, he/she should know it. In short it goes like this: …Read the whole article…

A boulder with house numbers


House numbers in a boulder

boulder with house number- rough stone

I recently received a request if it was possible to make a boulder with house numbers. Of course that's possible! So I went to a garden materials center and bought a heavy boulder of about a meter wide. It could just fit in the back of my little van, because it weighs over 400 kilos. Having a collision would become a problem at that weight. Had it been any heavier, I would have transported it by truck.

I would carve the house numbers 1-3-5 in it, for a group home for young people with a minor intellectual disability. Therefore, I chose a lively font. The boulder consists of red granite, probably a kind of Multicolour Red. But a boulder is not the same quality as found in the natural stone trade. You always only see if you within no …Read the whole article…

Finials and side crockets, for Eusebius and Dom Church

finials in Muschelkalk for St. Eusebius's ChurchFinials for St. Eusebius's Church

We are working on the completion of three projects: the first half of St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands) is almost finished, the last pieces of St. John's Cathedral are completed, and the last crockets for the South Chapel of the Utrecht cathedral are packed and ready for shipping as well. The finials in the above picture are destined for the south side of St. Eusebius's Church. These are fairly simple crockets in French Massangis-limestone, with a post-war era design, but they will contour well with their clean lines. There are only a few of those, and it's indent work: …Read the whole article…