Scaffolding visit: last time Eusebius Church

The last time on the scaffolding

All joys will eventually come to an end, and so did our work on the Eusebius Church in Arnhem, the Netherlands.. Luckily we had to go there one more time to make some adjustments. There were four connections of flying buttress statues to the church that still needed to be carved to fit at the very end. That means that it all didn't exactly match the old parts, and that we had to adjust the protruding bits. In addition, we had deliberately left parts unfinished in a number of places because we could only properly see on site how it would connect to other parts.. This was about the upper flying buttress statues of arch nr 23, with the Seven Virtues, from arch no. 20, on which a man (or woman?) wcould be seen with a watering can, from arch no. 19, with my Goat nibbling on a crocket, and finally of arch no. 17/18, on which my Two-Headed Eagle defiantly sat wide-legged. The first two were carved and therefore also adjusted by Jelle. The other two were adjusted by Tim and myself.

Drip ledges

At the top of each of these four flying buttress statues sat a horizontal ledge. We carved all four of them on the spot, because this gives the contractor's masons more leeway when installing the sculptures. You'll need to adjust it to the inclination and the transverse direction of the arc, to the vertical wall plane of the church and to the right height above the arch. In such a case, every part that is already defined is adding a level of difficulty. That's why it's more convenient to, as I reported in the blog article about the Two-Headed Eagle a while ago, not to tailor a number of things yet and not to finish carve them until they're on the church. That was also the reason that we, especially on the eagle,, whicho stands on two flying buttresses at the same time, needed to do a lot of work on the spot, but we had already counted on that.

Eduard van Kuilenburg

sculptor Eduard van Kuilenburg at work on the Eusebius Church between 1950 and 1960The Arch with the Seven Virtues is right next to the Seven Sins. They were also carved in the same style by sculptor Eduard van Kuilenburg. Van Kuilenburg was a passionate sculptor, who put all his passion into this church. He died shortly after completing his work on this church. I recently got his biography, from which it can be concluded that shortly after the war he was severely judged on a choice he made in despair and out of self-preservation. I suspect he repressed his war trauma with sculpting. Sometimes he also climbed over the fence on Saturday to continue working, on his own. Anyway, a piercing story of struggle and suffering, that you can read here (in Dutch only, sorry) by clicking on his photo.

The Seven Virtues

The figurines of the group with the seven virtues are again predominantly ladies. We see a woman with a dog (temperantia-temperance, ), a woman with a rooster (justitia-vigilance), a man with a lion (fortitude), a woman with a child and a heart (caritas-love), a man and woman with an anchor (spes-hope), a woman with a cross (fides-faith) and a woman with a lantern and a book (prudentia-wisdom). Van Kuilenburg has played with textures, poses and hairstyles, and though we've sharpened up a bit here and there, we actually mostly copied the sculptures just as they were.

From the figurines of Spes, Hope, I forgot to take pictures beforehand, so I couldn't dedicate an article to it either. So now you can find it here below. You can also find the couple below, in the gallery.


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Our very last flying buttress figurine!

Flying buttress figurine Fides, the Faith. Arch with the Seven Virtues, Eusebius Church Arnhem

The Faith

The very last

Four flying buttresses on the north side

Well honestly I hope it's not the very last ever, but we are finished and done at the Eusebius Church in Arnhem. After having copied 83 flying buttress figurines the job's over, unfortunately.

There were actually still 13 more to go, but those sculptures are to be replaced by a modern work of art by Arno Coenen. New decorations, inspired by the existing flying buttress images. The old figurines apparently were too weathered to save.

So we recently completed the last three figurines: Jelle made man with a watering can, I got to carve the two-headed eagle and Stide would be the one to finish the last statue from arc no. 23 out of new limestone, The Faith. One of the Seven Virtues. But because Stide is currently very busy with other things, he didn't get around to it anymore and I got to finish this one. It depicts a woman with a wavy hairstyle and a cross in her hand.

Overview and retrospect

Sculpture The Night by Eduard van Kuilenburg- new copy in Muschelkalk limestone

Corbel Stone of The Night

What sculptures have we been carving for the Eusebius Church over the past seven years now? Actually too much to mention. If you click on the following link you can find all the sculptures I got to carve for the Eusebius Church, including the over 50 flying buttress figurines I got my hands on. But Stide has also copied all kinds of sculptures from its tower for years and carved eight flying buttress statues, and since 2018 Jelle has also been closely involved and has, among other things, copied 24 flying buttress statues and made ornaments on pinnacles.

A bit of an acquired taste

The Arch with Six Apostles

It was a beautiful assignment. At first I wrinkled my nose a bit at the sculptures of the Eusebius Church. It all stemmed from after the war and was very expressively carved in a coarse tuffstone. But I needed to get to know it a bit before the appreciation came. I was used to the particularly detailed sculptures from earlier periods, such as those I saw from, for example, St John's Cathedral in Den Bosch, The Netherlands, or from the castles of Twickel and Cannenburgh. But this directly carved work has conquered a place in my heart, especially after we copied the Seven Sins and the Apostles in later years.

Educational project

flying buttresses with the apostles and musicians

Apostles and musicians

We immediately dived into carving other sculptural and ornamental work again, that's just how it goes, but i will miss these flying buttress figurines. Of course it has also guaranteed us a stable income for years. But most importantly, we enjoyed working on it so much, and it also taught me a lot about composition and storytelling. Because that's one thing that these flying buttress figurines evoke: we've often had conversations about what moved the original sculptor to represent a theme in a certain way, about the composition of the entire group of sculptures together, about attributes and themes and how we would have tackled this ourselves if we had been asked that question.

Gallery: Fides, The Faith

-click on a picture to open the gallery-

flying buttresses with the seven sins

Gallery: (nearly) All flying buttress statues I made for the Eusebius Church

-click on a picture to open the gallery- is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well:

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A flying buttress figurine with two pedantic heads

Two-Headed Eagle Completes

Too many other priority projects

We haven't made flying buttress figurines for the Eusebius Church for three quarters of a year now, because a number of other projects came in between, such as the finials and large crockets for the Utrecht Dom Tower, the figurines of the 4 seasons from Badhoevedorp, the 10 blocks from the Latin School in Nijmegen, the roasted dolphins of the Art'otel in Amsterdam, the Kalasams, once again a whole batch of large crockets for the Dom tower, and especially a lot of ornamental, relief- and sculpture for the reconstruction of two facade claddings for the church of Veghel, about which more later, after the unveiling.

Headless chicken

double-headed eagle before disassembly

before disassembly, around 2006

But once that was completed I could enjoy carving another flying buttress statue, a two-headed eagle this time. This figurine had also suffered quite a bit from the impregnation process gone awry and the weather conditions. As a result, it ended up going through life headless. Two old photos showed that the heads were not really very expressive, and if someone doesn't agree with it they should come over and tell me so, but I took the opportunity to make some nice and pedantic new heads in foam and plaster. I imagined those two heads arguing with each other all the time and being very conceited to boot. Taking into account the block size from which they had to be carved afterwards, I also made sure that they each looked in a different direction. I also made them look a bit more like eagle heads, because I couldn't make much out of that old photo.

Foam and plaster

old weathered eagle of tuff

a few years after dismantling

As said, the necks of this two-headed eagle were so thoroughly broken off that even a beginning could not be found anymore. So I drilled a few holes for a support frame and made two foam necks and heads, which I later covered with a layer of plaster. I left it all pretty coarse, because I would only really start to shape it when carving the stone. This also fits better with the approach of the original sculptor, who preferred to carve the flying buttress figurines in direct carving style at the time.

Following our tried and tested method, I then sawed a copy into new stone with my contour saw, after which the carving could begin. More about the operation of this machine can be found in this article and video, and in all articles about the copy saw machine.

Plaster reconstruction of the heads of the double-headed eagle

the plaster reconstruction between the finials of the Dom Tower

The Two-Headed Eagle

Two-Headed Eagle CompletesThe two-headed eagle is an ancient motif, that can be found in many cultures. Often it has to do with references to an empire. Van Kuilenburg had clashes with Germany in his youth during the war, where the symbol was widely used, but also in the centuries before that, the Reichsadler was already a widely used symbol.

Bald bird gets feathers

Two-headed eagle during carving process

We've now copied have a whole series of figurines by Eduard van Kuilenburg into new stone. For the vast majority of these, we have closely followed the original figurines. But with a sculpture like this, much of which is missing, it was more important for me to make an interesting image that fits in with the atmosphere of his other work, than obsessively trying to reconstruct what is no longer clear. Because I have already found feathers on some of his earlier birds, and because it soon turned out that I would otherwise be left with a large uninteresting surface at the front, I chose to apply a new plumage here. double-headed eagle completed

The heads of the double-headed eagle have also become quite stubborn, as I envisioned. Initially, the left head (for the viewers at home on the right) was a lot bigger than the right one, and I had to carve away quite a bit of it before a kind of uniformity came in. Of course something like this affects the position of the head, which makes this neck look a little more stretched, which came in handy for me.


profile of the eagle

I still have to adjust the profiles on the spot

I carved the plumage of the two-headed eagle with a a tooth chisel for structure, creating a lively effect.

The head and beak were carved less expressive because otherwise the design would suffer. This two-headed eagle stands on the spot where two flying buttresses sprout from the church, which probably also led to this design. I have tried to follow the dimensions of the old connections between the arches and the church as accurately as possible with a pointing machine and templates, but as the past few years have taught me, nothing ever fits exactly on such an old church. Nothing is square or plumb. That is why I left extra mass on all parts that have to connect to existing work, that after placement will be adjusted on the spot. This chicken had very expressive legs, and when these get a little more space later, after carving away the excess stone, I can shape them a bit clearer as well.

All in all a very nice flying buttress statue to make!


-click on a photo to view them in a larger size-

on to the next flying buttress figurine→ is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well:

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