An angel and a Shivalingam

fine sanding the Shivalingam

It's not all about carving (flying buttress)sculptures in the Sculptor's Workshop. Last week I copy-sawed an angel and made a Shivalingam.

Shivalingam

polishing the lingam

the sanding and sweetening’ of the lingam

A customer told me he would like to own a Shivalingam. Not because he has a special religious connection with it, but he just liked the shape, he said. Now he still had a piece of Black Swedish granite lying around, from which it could be made. He himself drew the outline on a piece of drawing board. I traced this contour onto a piece of plywood, which allowed me to cut this shape out of the granite with my copying saw.

Fortunately I did not have to polish the lingam, but after the copysawing I spent more than a day of sanding the stone. He wanted it to be finely sanded up to grit 200. The most difficult thing is to get all false dents out of the oval shape, so that a nice smooth shape is created. You can feel it best with your eyes closed. During the work I sang all the Shivabhajans that came to mind, a beautiful meditation.

What is a Shivalingam?

A Shivalingam is an egg-shaped stone, a symbol for God in his unformed state of being. The male principle of Being-Awareness-Bliss (Sat-Chit-Ananda), resting in itself, all-encompassing but unformed. Often this egg-shaped stone is placed in a yoni or panipitha (water seat), a kind of foundation that is a symbol of the feminine principle (Shakti). The Shiva- aspect is Being, Shakti is Becoming. Shakti stands for the expression in all-that-is, the entire creation. So the same energy is Shiva when it is unformed, and the moment it decides to unfolds itself into full creation, you get the feminine creation energy, the Shakti. These are two aspects of the same energy. During rituals, Shiva is worshiped by pouring water and milk over it.

Read here↑ a number of posts about the lingams and panipithas I made earlier.

An angel in two attempts

The block is cut in half and is upside down for gluing

Then there was the sandstone angel I was going to copysaw for my colleague Serge. It is a commission from St. John's Cathedral, similar to my statues of Thomas Aquinas and Pope Leo the Great. He will make a fine copy of this pre-sawn angel again . Last time, Jelle sawed a similar angel, read here↑ more.

However, it was a chore with a few snags. A few months ago I received a large block of Udelfanger sandstone for this angel. I immediately thought I saw something that wasn't right, and sure enough: the block was more than 10 centimeters too small!

After some deliberation it was decided to attach the bottom 15 centimeters of the statue separately. The reasons are the same as I explained earlier with Thomas Aquinas and Pope Leo: preferably they have the layering (the layers in the block of stone) run horizontally through the statue, instead of vertically, because otherwise whole slices can suddenly fall off. In contrast, you could argue that the thin wings might have been better made from vertical layers, because for that part that position is actually more favorable. It remains a struggle to find the best solution.

Cracked!

crack in sandstone block

the crack runs right through the entire block

at the top left and top right a large crack is visible in the block

at the top left- and right a large crack is visible in the block

So I had recieved a block of stone that was way too big, but not tall enough. I cut it lengthwise with my concrete chainsaw in two pieces, and made a separate base from the lower part of the spare. I glued it to the bigger piece and started copy-sawing. But it soon turned out that the small black line I had found was a big crack, that ran through the block, from top to bottom. Oops! I put the block aside and made some phonecalls, and a week later I received a better block.

Second try

the block of stone is cut in half with the chainsaw and glued. The plywood contour templates are there for the sizes

the second block of stone is cut in half with the chainsaw and glued. The plywood
contour templates are next to it for the sizes

I cut up this block lengthwise with the chainsaw as well. Then I hoisted it upside down onto the copy-sawing machine, where I cut a nice flat surface. The spare part also underwent this treatment, and I cut a slice of about 20 cms from it. I was asked to glue these two pieces together. But if you have been reading along for a while, you'll know that I can't just put a thick layer of epoxy glue between them. You'd get a waterproof layer that will cause all kinds of problems.

I put both pieces upside down. After I made the surfaces to be glued as flat as possible, I prepared a special mortar in the right colour. I applied this thin mixture on the surface and lowered the smaller block onto it. For just a little while I was able to move that block, until the parts suddenly sucked tight .

clay bowls with poured epoxy

drilled holes with stainless steel pins and poured epoxy

It worked, a minimal, permeable connection was made. After the weekend, the mortar had cured and I drilled two deep holes with the diamond drill. In these, two stainless steel rods were glued with epoxy. A day later, everything had set and I was able to turn the block and start copy-sawing the sculpture.

Careful

step 1 and 2 of the pre-sawing process. an angel in Udelfanger sandstone

roughly presawn (at the top) and medium fine (at the bottom)

It was not for nothing that this angel was to be replaced: it was heavily weathered and Serge had filled in all the missing parts with modeling material. That stuff is easy to remove afterwards, because it never hardens. But as far as I am concerned it is very difficult to work like this. I had to hoist and move the statue a few times, so I had to be very careful not to distort anything. And it's extra difficult during copy-sawing, because I could easily push through the surface of the clay with the feeler disc. I prefer plaster or hard mortar for repairs, because then I have to be much less careful. Fortunately, I managed to do it with a lot of patience.

You can see in the photos of the end result that I was very careful especially at the nose.

copy-sawed angel on the sawing machine

pre-sawn angel

If I'd pushed through the clay there, this would have also happened on the cutting side, in the stone. One saw cut that ends up a little too deep, would create a lot of problems. In that case, the whole head will have to be adjusted, and be made further back. So rather a fraction too much material than too little in that place! And it turned out that the glue seam was almost invisible, you really need to know where it is, to spot it. It might end up a bit more visible in the sanded end result, but even then it will barely be visible.

copy-sawed angel on the sawing machine

pre-sawn angel

copy-sawed angel from Udelfanger sandstone
Beeldhouwerijblog.nl is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well: beeldhouwerijvanvelzen.nl

Follow me on Instagram↑
and Twitter↑
and on YouTube↑

Video: visit to the Sculptor's Workshop

Koen, Jelle, customer and Stide at flying buttress statues carved by Jelle during visit to the sculptor's workshop

Koen, Jelle, customer and Stide near flying buttress sculptures carved by Jelle

We're going viral

Last month I would have had visit to the Sculptor's Workshop again: customers of St. Eusebius's Church who had bought one of the old flying buttress sculptures, could come over and have a look at the place where they are being copied into new stone. But a spanner was thrown in the works. At the moment everything is about that darn coronavirus and I too seem to be unable to avoid having things cancelled. I received a cancellation and a request to make a video of our work, so that the buyers/viewers can still get an impression.

Schoolmaster

Now it is different when I'm telling something all by myself than when people ask questions. Most of the work has become so obvious to me that I don't realize that parts of the work process are not yet clear to others. The best interaction is of course if you can answer questions directly, and often one question leads to another. And explaining things gives a different nuance than if you'd tell stories and quote anecdotes.

Image thinkers

But the Chinese already said it: a picture paints a thousand words. So here goes my replacement tour of the sculptor's workshop, with performances by colleagues Stide and Jelle. So the whole story revolves around flying buttress figurines that we're currently replacing, and these are some of the last of arc no. 14 and 16, with the musicians and apostles. Learning to film and edit was an interesting challenge, so I'm probably going to do that more often. I have plenty of plans, now to find some free time for it.

James the Lesser

The flying buttress sculpture I am working on in this video is now finished. Read in this post↑ more about the statue of James the Lesser. You will find the accordionist in this post↑. I have also started on the last flying buttress statue for now, that of James the Upper, about which more later.

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

Follow me on Instagram↑
and Twitter↑
and on YouTube↑

Flying buttress figurine: James the Lesser

copy of flying buttress statue of James the Lesser in Muschelkalk limestone

Two Jameses

The next flying buttress figurine of St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem was one from the series of apostles of arc no. 16. It represents a heavily built man with a club. This could either be Judas Thaddeus, or James the Lesser. He was called the Lesser because he became an apostle later than James the Greater. The other James was, along with his brother the apostle and evangelist John, a son of Zebedee, a fisherman. They were inspecting their nets when Jesus arrived and asked them to become fishers of men.

Brother of the Lord

copy of flying buttress statue of James the Lesser in Muschelkalk limestoneBut James the Lesser was called "brother of the Lord". Then how is that possible? Well, according to the Medieval stories, that everyone knew in those days, the carpenter Joseph had been married before and he had a number of children from that marriage, but his wife had died. He was a widower when the young girl Mary (Miriam) came to live under his protection. She took care of the children, and especially James was very fond of her because he was very young when he lost his mother. Maria was about 14 years old when she came out from the temple protection to live with Joseph. Her father and mother, Joachim and Anna, had miraculously been gifted child in their advanced age and therefore entrusted her to God as a temple maiden. So she was brought up very pure and trained in high spiritual knowledge.

When she was 16 years old, she suddenly turned out to be pregnant and Joseph wanted to distance himself from her, but the angel confided to him that she was carrying a great miracle. He decided to marry her. Mary became the mother of Jesus, and James grew up with him. He was at least seven years older, but was among his most faithful disciples.

Club

copy of flying buttress statue of James the Lesser in Muschelkalk limestoneThe club that the apostle James carries with him shows a different way of thinking that was common in the Middle Ages. Emphasis was placed on the suffering and martyrdom of Jesus and of his apostles and saints, therefore, the club with which he was put to death was given a prominent place in the depictions of James. Now this is not a Medieval statue at all, but made in 1956 by Eduard van Kuilenburg. In the Dutch language book on the sculpture of the Eusebius Church Elisabeth den Hartog and Ronald Glaudemans write that the themes for the sculpture were presented by Arnhem city archivist Mr Schaap. That could explain why Van Kuilenburg gave the saints such traditional attributes.

Traditionally, James the Lesser was sometimes depicted with a fuller's stick instead, a heavy piece of wood that was used to felt wool, because he was supposedly been beaten to death with it. So who else could have become the patron saint of all wool felters other than James? Those inimitable twists of thoughts of those Medieval people though…

Today we would be more interested in the life and works of such an apostle than in his martyrdom. The lurid details and emphasis on martyrdom for the Church are definitely from another time.

 

on to the next flying buttress figurine→

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

Follow me on Instagram↑
and Twitter↑
and on YouTube↑