Flying buttress figurine: The Idleness

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

first stage of rough carving The IdlenessAcedia

next stage in carving flying buttress figurine The Idleness

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

flying buttress figurine Idleness completed

I 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?

Maybe 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

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

Copying flying buttress statue Rage. Photo during the carving of the detailsPerhaps you remember when I received the next series of flying buttress figurines in my yard? In a post from 9 March 2019 on this blog, you can read how they arrived in our yard in pieces. Jelle then spent a long time gathering all the loose parts and bonding them into recognizable sculptures again. These were the seven sculptures from flying buttress no. 24, on the subject of The Seven Sins. The first sculptures are finished now.

I haven't even done that much work on this arc myself, mainly because I was busy with other projects: Thomas Aquinas, large crockets for The Utrecht Dom Cathedral, and family crests (I've been busy with the next one already, in Belgian bluestone).

Naughty ladies for Jelle

Jelle Steendam busy carving a copy of the flying buttress statuette of Gluttony Jelle Steendam with Gluttony

Stide has also been busy with other projects, so Jelle was the one who had the most momentum. He had presawn a number of sculptures and subsequently been carving away on Vanity and Gluttony. He is now working on Greed. I've only made Rage so far, and Stide is now working on Lust.

Flying Buttress Figurine Vanity, copy by Jelle Steendam

Vanity is very pleased with her own beauty

Vanity is a lady with long hair and a mirror, Gluttony is a fat lady stuffing something in her mouth, and Lust is a naked lady with toads to her chest. I'll keep it short about these sculptures here, the gentlemen can explain that on their own websites.

The Anger

copying flying buttress statue RageCarving a copy of flying buttresses figurine RageOne of the seven deadly sins is the rage, or anger. This was the statue that I got to carve myself. It represents a man pulling a knife and with a face distorted from rage and hair pulled back, frightening everyone else.

expression study of flying buttress figurine The Rage

The original image had sharp teeth, but the eyes were closed, so that the expression was a bit half-hearted. So I took some pictures to find out how the eyes are in such a face.

Latin terminology

carving flying buttress statue Rage (close-up)

Each of these seven vices has a latin term to it, and Ithought it would be nice to carve that word in the side of the profile for each of the sculptures. This would be Ira, the Latin word for rage, Gluttony becomes Gula, Vanity would be Superbia and Lust becomes Luxuria . Then there are Avaritia (greed/avarice), Acedia (laziness/sloth) and Invidia (envy/slander). And each virtue has its own term as well, but those will be coming up much later on, because after this, we first get to carve the Musicians and the Apostles from flying buttress no. 14 and 16.

Crates full of debris: old photos wanted!

crates with flying buttress figurines that are yet to be copied.

some of the crates with the old flying buttress figurines

a crate with a flying buttress figurine in ruins

if you have any old photos, that would help me a lot in their reconstruction

We had a few weeks of good weather, so I took the opportunity to measure up all of the remaining flying buttress sculptures, so we'd -in due course- be able to order the new stone in advance. But I didn't find all the figurines in good condition in their crates! There were a few crates among them with only a thick layer of debris at the bottom. I have no doubt that if necessary we could also reconstruct these sculptures properly, but seven of these figurines will not return to the church. People are thinking hard about a modern interpretation to fill the holes they leave behind.

weathered tuff sculptures in storage in the sculptor's yard

a small part of the old sculptures in the yard

But for the rest of them, we'll have to restore everything and let our creativity fill in the missing parts. If anyone has any old pictures of the flying buttresses on which the sculptures still shine in full regalia, I can use those very well. My email address can be found on the contact page.

Almost 60 finished, some 38 more to go?

weathered figurines of the musicians in storage

a few of the seven musicians and seven apostles from buttresses 14 and 16

We're coming along nicely, carving all those new figurines: with these three we've landed at 56 , and number 57 and 58 are already in progress. It is hard to imagine that we've made so many already and it still is fun to do! I must admit that the Foolish Maidens and especially the Crippled were not as interesting, but these are definitely worth it because they are so expressive and clearly tell a story. And then you have to remember that we also did a lot of work for the tower of St. Eusebius's Church. Especially Stide spent months of carving in the workshop in Arnhem and made a lot of corbels in new stone.

lijst met alle luchtbogen en hun thema's

-click on the image for a larger view-

There are still a lot of figurines to go, but not all of the sculptures can be saved. We do not know how many we'll still get to carve exactly, but for the curious among us, here's a list of all the flying buttress numbers and the themes for each arch (sorry, it's in Dutch only!).

to the next article about these flying buttress figurines→

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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copy of Thomas Aquinas completed

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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 this summer) 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 got started again,I had already anchored the two parts together with two thick stainless steel threaded rods of 20mm thick and about 50 or 60 cms long. That won't come off so easily. I made it so that the top part fits onto the lower part a bit like a bottle cap. But I still needed to connect the jointing plane with a restoration mortar, because carving this plane to fit 100% is unnecessarily difficult. I can't glue it entirely, because a horizontal glue layer is like asking for trouble. The water won't seep through the material and the stone above the line will rot and break by freezing. Of course I did attach the pins firmly with epoxy adhesive. With the mortar I grouted the seam in the same colour and now it's hard to tell the spot.

carving of the face and the bird on the copy of the statue of Thomas Aquinas

9. detailing bird and head

hoisting the statue of Thomas Aquinas

10. hoisting

Feathers and feet

This was followed by the wellknown steps of carving the details. With some measuring work and gradually detailing, a proper copy of the weathered sculpture emerged. I didn't use the pointing machine for this, because my presawing machine had already given me so much references that I could transfer the intermediate points much more easily with compasses and templates.

I had reconstructed the missing pieces with plastiline clay in the old statue. This clay will not harden and can easily be removed again later. The clay coloured remarkably well with the rest of the statue, so it did not interfere while copying.

The pigeon on Thomas’ s shoulder was carved with great detail, with tiny legs and feathers. This kind of thing is not really hard to make in this stone, it just requires a little more patience.

copy of statue of Thomas Aquinas put higher for the carving of the folds

11. carving of the lower half

finishing the lower side of the statue of Thomas Aquinas

12. carving the folds and finish sanding

At working height and easy to turn

I then placed the statue a level higher, in order to tackle its lower half. I always set them up close together and preferably on a turntable, so I can always put them in the best position and easily oversee everything.

I had these stands made so they fit on small pallets, so I can easily wheel them around with a pallet truck. They are stackable too, so I can build them up to a good height. But the stands are just for the larger statues; for smaller ones I'll use my yellow scissor tables. I can use the turntables on these as well.
In case that's still too low, I can add an extra platform to it.

sanding the habit of the sandstone sculpture

13. sanding the habit

copy of statue of Thomas Aquinas beside reconstructed original

14. statue finished; the original, here still with the clay repairs

Buffing and sanding

Once all the details were to my taste, the sanding started. With diamond files and abrasive stones, I sanded the entire statue. Later on it still didn't look good enough to me. I discovered that in this Udelfanger sandstone it works quite well if you finish it with sandpaper or emery cloth by hand. It gives a kind of velvety finish that suits the sculpture quite well, and all the scratches of the chisel and abrasive stones will quite easily disappear. However, it is again just another of those jobs that take a bit of patience. I've been sanding on his habit for days, and started to feel it in my fingertips.

copy and original side by side. Original now without clay

15. The finished copy and the original, here without clay

the original statue of Thomas Aquinas, damaged.

16. The original before repairs

Making history for posterity

At the rear of the original statue, there were all kinds of different chisel marks. I reproduced them in the copy. But to make things clear for future generations, I also carved in the following text:: copy 2019 k. van velzen

This should make it easier for future historians what happened to this statue in the present year. For I don't dare trust that this blog will survive the centuries. Perhaps not even the Internet will. It is said that one good solar eruption is enough to fry all of our electronics and even the electrical equipment and facilities. We'll see, but this way, Thomas will remain, at least a little, a guardian of history.

Gallery with a timelapse of carving the sculpture

-Click on a photo to view the larger image-

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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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 had arrived and a first example was approved by the assessment committee.

French basalt lava

completed and precut crocket in Volvic basalt lavaVolvic Basaltlava originates from near the French village of Volvic in the Puy de Dome, in the Auvergne. This village is known for the eponymous mineral water, but its stone has gathered its own fame as well. Basaltic lava is tremendously resistant to weathering, and this kind in particular is also suited for carving, such as, for example, can be seen at the Cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand. It can all appear to be a bit grey and dull when it is used all over a building, but when used sparingly and mixed in with other stonework, it can be a valuable addition. Unlike for example Peperino Duro, Volvic will remain well defined under all kinds of weather- and lighting conditions, whereas Peperino will soon appear a vague gray mass, and the play of shapes becomes unreadable. Even when it rains the lines are still clearly visible in Volvic. It was widely used, for example, in the last restoration of Our Lady's Tower in Amersfoort as a replacement of sandstone, even for the sculptural parts. This stone actually blends in very well with the gray tones of weathered Bentheimer sandstone.

completed crocets in Volvic basaltic lava, wet by rain

even during wet weather these crockets stand out clearly

There are more types of basalt lava, like Niedermendiger and Mayener basaltic lava, which for centuries has been used for grindstones, because of their durability, hardness and sharpness. To me, these are not nice stones to carve in; one needs to really work hard to make something and it all remains very dark. That is why, in this case, I submitted a proposal to carve these ornaments in Volvic, in particular because a few meters below them the same stone is used on the same walls of the Dom Church. Alternatives for this were Peperino and sandstone. However sandstone is more vulnerable than Volvic.

Advantages- and disadvantages

rough carving a large crocket in Volvic basalt lavaAs mentioned, Volvic is well suited for carving. It can even be used for enameling, or rather glazes, provided it's first covered in a thin layer of clay. This process is mainly suited for large tile panels without seams. Drawbacks are that those can't be made much thicker than 3 to at the most 5 cms, and there will always be a risk that the stone will snap in the oven. However, I would like to carve a relief one day and then have it glazed to create a vivid and colorful display.

The material will always remain unslippery and that's one of the reasons that basalt lava is often used for steps and stairs. It will weather very slowly. But it is a lava rock, containing many small gas bubbles. These bubbles may occur in lines, along which the stone could break during processing and also after cutting when on the pallet it could still spontaneously break along an invisible tension line . The stone is layered and carves a lot easier in one direction than in the other. Like most natural stone, Volvic basalt lava also comes in various shades of colour, from gray to deep anthracite, from nearly black, to brownish purple and almost burgundy-like brown.

Four on the same page

The four of us have worked on this assignment. Stide has made four of them, I did five, Jelle made two more, and Serge accounted for the lion's share and carved the remaining nine. Working together in such a group, the individual differences between the individual sculptors working are bound to show, for after all, we are not machines. Yet there was a great partnership and close cooperation among us. For instance, on two occasions the three of us have been working on one clay model, all at the same time , during which we noticed to our own surprise how much consensus there was on the shapes that we were pursuing and how the tension needs to flow within the leaves. Stide had initially made a clay model, which we adjusted together during the first visit of the committee, and Serge's first piece was carved after that model.

Ten left and ten right

Old photograph from 1960 ofthe left transept of Utrecht Cathedral, without any crockets

the facade of the transept, here without any crockets, around 1960

These twenty large crockets will come on top of the left transept, where the wall ends and the eaves begin. So there are ten left hand and ten right hand crockets. If you stand between the Dom Tower and the cathedral and you walk a little to the left, you will just be able to see them. And perhaps even from the terraces next to the church.

These crockets in basalt lava will replace twenty crockets that were installed in the 1980s. These were casts, but they did not survive the last thirty years very well, so they already need to be replaced now. Fortunately, this time was chosen for graceful ornaments in a much more robust stone, so we can assume that these crockets will adorn the church for much longer.

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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Finials for St. Eusebius's Church-2: crockets!

crockets carved for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem, the Netherlands

As I already explained in in an earlier blog post I spent my days before the summer holidays carving crockets on finial parts for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands).

And my colleagues Stide Vos, Serge van Druten and Jelle Steendam were also contributing to this project. I have not seen how these finials are installed now, but I have every confidence that they're looking great.

Completion

Shaft piece with crockets for St. Eusebius's Church. Below is an ornament with a surprise in it

For a while, it was still a bit uncertain whether it would all be finished on time. The stonemasons always make the basic work, i.e. all the geometric parts of the finials. We take care of the ornamental parts (the crockets), then it's all sent to the church, where the contractor is responsible for the installation. It was at that time very busy at the church yard, because …Read the whole article…

Looking back: the South Chapel of the Utrecht Cathedral

tufa crockets on the south chapel of the Dom cathedral in Utrecht

Tufa crockets for the southern chapel

After a visit to the Utrecht Dom Tower for a quote, I took the time to shoot a few pictures of our recently completed work on the Dom cathedral. To be precise, the 3 facades of the South Chapel on the Pandhof side.

If you'll remember: a few months ago we had carved 29 large tuff stone crockets for the pointed arches of the cathedral in Utrecht. Now Serge and Stide did carve the majority of the flowers, but …Read the whole article…

Finials for St. Eusebius's Church


We're currently carving parts of pinnacles by the cartload. They are all destined for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands). Below are some pictures of work I've made this far. In the picture above you can see a number of blocks ready for transport: successively, an old tuffstone block, a block of red sandstone from my hand, one by Stide and one by Jelle, and finally …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 Kerkbestuur wild …Read the whole article…

What will save the Notre Dame? (2)

-read part 1 of this article here-

A very short time frame (2)

So President Macron has announced that the cathedral should be rebuilt in five years. He has appointed a French general to run the whole operation and there has also been announced that there will be a competition for a new spire. I guess it will become something made of steel and glass, with a modern slightly pyramid-like shape… oh wait, where have I seen something like that before?

All very remarkable. A number of well-informed decisions to be taken are pushed through quickly without discussion or consultation, and deploying the military renders the freedom to bypass a lot of rules. For yes, there will be needed a huge flow of materials (for the roof alone, more than 1300 thick straight oak trees are needed, and wherever would you get these from on such short notice? Fortunately …Read the whole article…

Will the computer become the rescue for the Notre Dame? (1)

A disaster with far-reaching consequences

fire Notre Dame

photo by Wandrille de Préville – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

After some time, this will be old news already, but for now, this remains fresh in everyone's memory: a huge fire made the roof of Notre Dame in Paris collapse, on 15 april 2019. During the current restoration a fire broke out somewhere around the base of the spire, which, along with the rest of the roof, burned down and partly fell on the scaffold, and partly on the vault beneath. Part of the ceiling collapsed. All technical terms which I will explain later on. It surprised me how much I was shocked by the first television pictures of the burning cathedral. It is again clear that this is not just any French church somewhere , but an iconic place that belongs to the heritage of the world. Yet it is strange that the fire in this building evokes more emotions than a war or a famine on television. It's ultimately only a material object that was made for mankind. Is the human being then not more important?

A very short time frame (1)

Notre Dame before 2019

Notre Dame before 2019. Photo by Daniel Vorndran / DXR, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

The French president announced Macron …Read the whole article…