Flying buttress figurine: A Foolish Maiden


A foolish maiden

flying buttress statue from the Eusebius Church in Arnhem: a Foolish Maiden

the old tufa sculptur

Of the flying buttresses which we are now working on, each have their own theme. There are seven trumpet angels, people who represent the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, a group of Wise Maidens and this sculpture from the last arc depicts a Foolish Maiden.

Briefly, the story goes like this: this girl is waiting for the groom, but just before he arrives she discovers that the oil for her lamp has run out. While she's out buying new oil, she misses the party and knocks at the door in vain. Maintain your energy level!

Planes and lines

An old flying buttress figurine from the Eusebius Church in Arnhem: a Foolish Maiden. Ancient tuff statue.

cubistic design

This group was sculpted in a fairly cubistical way, and quite heavy. It was almost impossible to see what is actually being portrayed. Even standing right next to it, I could not see it very well. There were a number of surfaces and lumps, but their purpose was not clear. Upon completion, mid fifties, they asked the sculptor if he could make it all a bit slimmer afterwards. I can not really see that that has helped.

Storytelling

With this kind of sculptures, it is intended that the story will be illustrated by them. Unfortunately I couldn't recognize it anymore in this one. After long thinking I decided to adapt some things a bit. Not that it will be a break in style: broadly it is still the same image. However, between all the surfaces it wasn't clear that she carries a container under her arm. I thought that this jug was the most important attribute in the story, and therefore it should be much clearer what exactly it is. For that reason I have made the can of oil round. This puts it more sharply into contrast to the rest of the figurine, allowing the girl herself to stand out better. I also tried to make it clear that the Foolish Maiden rises quickly, while she's gathering up her skirts. Her wedding dress. That is why they have such an ample dress!

An old flying buttress figurine from the Eusebius Church in Arnhem: a Foolish Maiden. Copy in Muschelkalk limestone

The copy in limestone

Copy

Perhaps not everyone will appreciate my choices; it remains a difficult issue. I chose to tell the story more clearly. Yet, though the statue has become a bit slimmer all around, I did follow its existing shapes. All surfaces are reflected in the copy. Some details were added, such as the boots and the cleavage, some folds in the gown and there is a little bit of expression in the face. Her posture has remained the same, but I hope that because of the lighter limestone and the slightly more slender version it's a little bit clearer what she's doing. And because the jug stands out more, it may also be clearer what this Foolish Virgin is carrying, and that this is not part of her dress. An empty oil container.

Two completions

Because we should soon provide two churches with newly made sculptural parts, it's currently quite busy. I'll be away on a break as well, so I try as much as possible to do all of the sawing in advance. Hence, there will not be much to report in the coming period: sawing work is not too interesting to write about. See you later!

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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Thomas Aquinas (sandstone) for St. John's Cathedral

The statue of Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas: Here the statue is still in its niche of St John's Cathedral

St. John's cathedral

The major overhaul of St. John's cathedral is steadily continuing. Each year or maybe every two years, I'm not quite sure, one bay of the church is restored: 1 buttress and 1 window facade. This year I already did some work on two finial bases, a slanted profile and some crockets, but this time no canopy.

Weathering on the statue of Thomas Aquinas

In particular, the folds at the bottom of his habit were considerably weathered

Thomas Aquinas

The dove stands for Divine inspiration

I received a request to bid for the carving of a copy of a statue from this church. To my pleasure I got the commission. But at the time it was not yet clear to me which saint was depicted. It is a statue in Udelfanger sandstone. Stylistically I thought from the 1920, because it is so highly stylized, but it is about 40 years older: around 1880. It's a monk in a Dominican habit (as seen by his hood) with a book, a quill and a dove. The book and dove made clear that he is a "father of the church’ as it's called.

a father of the church (nowadays Teacher of the Church , because there are female teachers of the church as well, such as Teresa of Ávila, Catherine of Siena, Theresia of Lisieux and Hildegard of Bingen) is someone who has left important writings on faith and doctrinal matters and has led an exemplary life of holiness. I thought his book to show something like 'Lausal da van Sion Tower', but a search yielded nothing. I wish I had read vertically!

Long live Whatsapp

Lau da Sion Sal va torem

After a few questions via Whatsapp to the right person it became clear that this sculpture has been on the outside of the cathedral in front of a stained-glass window, and that he probably was depicted on the inside as well. And yes, he was, he turned out to be Thomas Aquinas. And so the text becomes immediately apparent: an opening sentence from a famous cantata written by him. 'Lau da Sion Sal va torem'. Praise, Sion, the Savior.

strange, For Aquinas was, according to tradition so enormously fat that he did not fit in a regular choir bench. They had to saw away one of the separation pieces, so he could sit at twice the normal width. Here he is pictured almost ascetic lean.

Standing layering

Anyway, I was not hired for a hagiography or for art historical research, but to carve a copy. The first step is to reconstruct it, and then I need to carve a copy from that into a new block of sandstone. And just there's the catch. The old statue was carved in Udelfanger sandstone. But this stone is not available in this height. How is it that they were able to make a statue in one piece anyway? Simple. The stone they can retrieve from a bank of about one meter thick. So a statue of 152 cm is simply not possible. Unless you take a horizontal block of stone.

But this choice has its drawbacks. The sedimentary deposits of this block will then be in line with the statue. Vertical. You'd prefer that the layers run horizontally through the sculpture, because if something breaks, the fracture will run horizontally as well, So the chance that everything stays in place anyhow is quite large. But in a statue with vertical layers, after some weathering an entire slice at once could come loose and fall down.

The layer deposition in the quarry is called layering. Horizontal layering is desirable, upright layering is not. For this staue, they wanted a block with horizontal layering. That just is not possible, because the bank thickness in the quarry is not more than at most 110 cms.

Patching it up

The pictures show clearly that this sculpture is missing entire parts at the bottom, which fell off after weathering. I had to remodel those first and make a reconstruction of how it must have been originally. Now I do prefer plaster for this, so I can presaw the statue more easily on my copying saw. But Thomas Aquinas must be preserved intact because he will be stored later in the museum The Bouwloods, at St. John's Cathedral. That's why I modeled the missing parts in plastiline clay, that never hardens. That can later be easily removed again.

Statue of Thomas Aquinas (sandstone) reconstruction in plastiline clay

Missing parts are filled in with plastiline clay. The chalk mark approximately indicates the seam.

In two parts

This week, the committee came to see me to review the results and discuss how we can make this statue in horizontal layering. Eventually it was decided to create a thin seam between the two new blocks. On the dividing line of the monk's hood will be a cutting surface. But this seam runs quite irregular. When I cut a straight line here it will firstly be very visible and secondly the seam runs through the knuckles of the right hand.

After some deliberation we decided: I'll make a separate top part and a separate bottom part. Exactly on the axis of the cap, I'll carve a parting plane toboth parts. Next, I'll put the two pieces together and insert two thick stainless steel pins. That will be an interesting puzzle! I will keep you informed of the sequel.

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
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Two griffins with a large shield

griffins with shield castle entrance plastiline maquetteThe next project has taken a very long time to get properly going. More than a year ago I received this request, and only now there is the peace and time to address this well. It is not a simple little project for doing between other things. …Read the whole article…

Flying Buttress Figurines: four times Noah's Ark

Theo van Reijns theme of Noah's Ark

There are 96 flying buttress figurines on St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands), distributed over 14 flying buttresses. Four of these are filled with animal figures on the theme of Noah's Ark, designed by the Haarlem sculptor Theo van Reijn (and for the most part carved by his artisan sculptor Eduard van Kuilenburg). He awarded each of these …Read the whole article…

Side crockets: Gothic ornaments for the Utrecht Cathedral

Reconstruction of gothic ornaments

weathered old crockets in Ettringer tuff at the cathedral in Utrecht

weathered old crocket in Ettringer tuffstone

The Cathedral in Utrecht is partly covered in scaffolding at the moment. Specifically a large part of its stonework is being overhauled, and part of this project are 16 large tuffstone crockets, or Gothic leaf shapes adorning the frames of the lancet windows. After several centuries of copying there was not much left of their original shape. That was reason enough …Read the whole article…

A monkey in a wig (flying buttress figurine)

flying buttress figurine Monkey, Copying from tuffstone into Muschelkalk

copying the Monkey

The old Monkey from tuffstone

One of the nicest flying buttress figurines from the series 'Noah's Ark’ by Theo van Reijn was now ready to be copied: a Monkey. The creature has an endearing belly, skinny legs and a Big Smile on its snout. And a wig.

That my sawing machine after all of the welding- and tinkering can now cut so accurately is also clearly visible in the pre-cut block. It saves quite a bit …Read the whole article…

A Razorbill without a head (flying buttress figurine)

Presawing in the snow

Van Velzen sculptor overlooks snowy fields this winterThe next flying buttress figurine for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem is ready. I've been busy presawing all the blocks that I had lying around for flying buttress 4 and 5 (read here more), before maybe a real frost period got in the way. Because my saw sits outside, I cannot use it during frost, because then …Read the whole article…

Noah fleeing the rising waters (flying buttress figurine)

Old tuff flying buttress figurine. Noah fleeing the water that is rising up around the arkIn the nearly endless series of flying buttress figurines for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem, I again arrived at carving one of the topmost pieces, on which always Noah's Ark is depicted. On this one, this time the ark is shown with swirling waves around it, and Noah climbed into the boat before everything …Read the whole article…

Flying buttress: dog, lion, naked woman, fat man and bird

Sorry, proper translation later this week! These past few weeks I've continued carving for flying buttress 6 and 7 from St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands).

A short video from the church as the crow flies, with the flying buttresses. As a bonus, a short performance by my colleague Stide Fox copying a corbel.

Flying buttress 6 and 7

flying buttress figurines from flying buttress no. 6 and 7 of St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem

A photograph that I was sent by Slotboom Stonemasons. The Sad Badger in the foreground was carved by Stide.

It was a motley collection I received at my yard: the Noah and his ark I described earlier, a dog, a naked lady with big feet and a broken neck plus a bird, a very happy lion with his paw in a strange position, a fat man drinking from a large pot, and a bird which we suspected could be a Capercaillie. …Read the whole article…

An interesting gable stone

A plaque in the making for the Blue Tram street in Haarlem

Last week I started on a very interesting challenge: the carving of a new gable stone relief. The project deserves some explanation, because it includes a lot more than just this one relief. …Read the whole article…