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: Squire Everard Meyster makes a walk on the Leusden moors with his study pals, and comes upon a huge boulder, sticking out of the ground. After some speculation about the origin of the boulder the squire is willing to bet that the boulder would be easy to move. He gets 400 Amersfoorters crazy enough that they willingly, and for promises of lots of beer and pretzels start to move the boulder of 7 tons and hoist it on a cart, and under loud cheering bring it into the city. A man lost his legs in the excitement, but that couldn't spoil the fun.

Then the stone was set on display at the Pig's Market. Later, the squire writes a mocking rhyme about the gullible Amersfoorters, and the boulder was buried out of shame. Only in 1903 the boulder was dug up again. Today, the boulder is still visible at the beginning of the Arnhem street. A stone's throw from the group home.

Real Amersfoort boulders

Amersfoorters have been nicknamed Boulder pullers ever since that day’ and the city is also called Boulder Town. So what was a more appropriate name for the future residents than The Boulder Club?

At one of the meetings of the Club every resident has painted their own stone. And these remained lying around in a basket somewhere in the house. A pity though, thought the central committee, and after some discussion an idea came up for a work of art, a tree with these stones as leaves. Boulder and Oak.

Whoever thought up what, I don't know anymore, but in the practical part, it ultimately came down to a collaboration between me and painter Sandra Nanning, who has made a lot of murals, and from trees as well. Sandra was going to paint a large tree in the stairwell, and I would attach the stones to stainless steel tree leaves.

Making tree leaves

I bought a sheet of stainless steel and cut out the shape of the leaves. After that, I made a hole in the middle, and a fold over its length. I tapped the leaf halves around a thick tube to get the leaf effect, and welded an long M8 nut on the rear side. Into that, I welded a threaded wire piece, with which I can fix the leaf into the wall. It is a somewhat cumbersome construction, but now every leaf has a nut into wihich I can screw a stone.

-Click on a picture for the slide show-

Each stone had to be pierced. And there were hard ones among them! Limestones I can drill without the hammer function, but a piece of granite can't be drilled with a hammer drill. It would break in half. So many of these stones I needed to patiently pierce with a diamond bit. 32 in all, so I had enough on my hands there.

A huge tree in the stairwell

boulder and oak-tree and stoneSandra then went to work on the back wall of the stairwell. She painted one big tree, from the ground floor up to the second floor continuously. It also runs out into the two side walls, so it stands with an imposing presence. At the bottom are the names of the initiators of the project, plus the architect and the owners of the property who have put so much work in.

On the first floor is a poem about a tree that was good at letting go. And on the top two floors are the stones of the residents, criss-cross all over, each on their own stainless steel tree leaf.

boulder and oak-tree and stone2

Should it be necessary, they can be screwed out again, and there are still four spots left for future residents.

The Tree in the Wood

The tree in the wood

in autumn let everything loose

He let go of it all and as he stood

he whispered softly:

'Letting go is paramount

boulder and oak, stone and tree3in life, to stand stronger and be sound ’poem on tree

 

 

 

 

Placement of the boulder with the house numbers

boulder and oak- boulder hoistedA week earlier at the same address, I installed the boulder that I recently carved the house numbers in . The boulder was put in the front yard, right next to the entrance. I had transported the nearly 500 kg heavy boulder in the back of my white little van. I could lift it out with an engine hoist I'd brought along in a trailer. After that, it was only a matter of laying planks and planting it into the garden.

boulder and oak-positioning of the boulder2

 

 

boulder and oak- boulder planted

Boulder and Oak

boulder and oak- planting the oak tree

This boulder was not the only thing that was planted; later that week a young oak tree (Quercus Robur) was also planted, in appreciation of the architect and the two developers. Because an oak can live for over 450 years here, we hope that both the group home and the oak will live a long and happy life.

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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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 I can! 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 need to find out if there aren't any cracks deeper inside.

Polishing

boulder with house number- polished the surface of the numbers

I started polishing the place where the numbers will will come. Once I'll lower the surface of the stone surrounding them, I will end up with raised letters or numbers. If I just carve the house numbers into the stone, then they will become recessed letters/numbers.

The tricky part here is the surface of the stone. It was formed by nature, so it's irregular. If it's wet, then it will be darker and when the weather is dry lighter. That means that in wet weather the polished surface of the figures disappears against the background. In dry weather it's easily readable.

Pasting and carving

boulder with house number- paper figures pasted onto it

The group home has the house numbers 1, 3 and 5. They share one common entrance. The stone will be located at the entrance and so will have all three house numbers. Now the house numbers are still on a sheet of paper behind a window, but because the group home is situated in boulder puller's town Amersfoort, it's a much better idea represent them on a boulder.

boulder with house number- started carving the husinummers

I had printed out the figures at 21 cm tall on paper and pasted them onto the stone. Now I could carve the numbers right through the paper into the stone . After that I just had to bring the surrounding stone down until the numbers protruded almost 2 cm above it. Red granite is quite hard, but it all went pretty easily; the stone had almost no faults.

Lowering the background

Bushhammering chisel for natural stone

When all the contours were carved, the stone in between them had to be lowered still. That's easily done with a bush hammer, a kind of blocky chisel with pyramid-shaped points. This crushes the stone surface, leaving behind a rough skin.

boulder with house number- bushhammered the surface

To finish it closer to the original surface of the stone I then followed with a rotating wire brush and brushed off all sharp bits. After several years of weathering you will notice that the stone has become one a single entity, with its letters clearly contrasting. Now the bush hammered spots are still a bit lighter, but that will, over time, merge into one another seamlessly.

Gilding or not?

boulder with house number- house numbers finished

Unfortunately, it appears that in wet weather everything gets the same color. So was thinking of a solution for this. I thought of painting or gilding. Once the polished surface of the figures is gold plated, even during rain or dusk they will clearly stand out. But we are not yet certain whether that fits in with the informal nature of the group home. I will soon install the boulder and then we'll see whether one day an alteration should be made.

This was a small (pro Deo-) job in between other things. Now I've learnt something new: how to make a boulder with house numbers. It's not a sculpture and letter carving's not something I do very often, but this was certainly just fun to do. I like working in granite, it's a robust material. I'll post pictures of installing it next week.

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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Sculpture 'The Night’ for St. Eusebius Church Tower


Last phase of the tower

Work on the tower of St. Eusebius's Church is nearing completion. Actually, the sculptres of The Day and The Night are the last two pieces that the builders are urgently waiting for. So I think a deep sigh of relief must have come from the scaffolds of the church when I completed The Night this week. For the tower, and part of the church, need to be free of scaffolding when a commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem is held this autumn, looking back to, 75 years ago. But this sculpture was not the only thing that still needed to be done. I've been carving away for St. John's Cathedral in Den Bosch, for the the Utrecht cathedral, again for Saint John's Cathedral, and the flying buttress figurines for St. Eusebius' Church itself should be ready in time as well.

Day and Night

This corner sculpture is located at about 15 meters up and was originally carved in tuff by Eduard van Kuilenburg. She's part of a pair: there is a guy with a rooster, breaking his shackles and brandishing a mop (or should it represent a flaming torch?), and yes, this woman with a nest of owls too. The Day and The Night. This lascivious young lady is sitting with the left hand in her hair, on one knee, with a stick in her right hand. The purpose of the stick is not clear to me, or perhaps it should represent an extinguished candle. The owls represent nightlife, the rooster and the broken shackles stand for dawn. I suppose he's about to extinguish the torch and is not going to mop the floor, because he 's not carrying a bucket.

Presawing

This relief is the biggest block from this church we received in the yard in recent years: almost 1 cubic metre. Due to time constraints we decided to use the copying saw, but the block was so large that it couldn't even turn around on the turntable of the machine. I had to literally cut a number of corners to make it fit. These were however just those corners that ultimately will be embedded inside the masonry, so you won't see anything of it later on. This presawing is saving me days of measuring work, by enabling me to start carving by eye from quite early on. Plus it saves me a lot of rough carving and sawing with an angle grinder, freeing me from a lot of the hard work. I glued two stainless steel threaded rods M16 into the top of the new block, onto which I can screw a eye bolt for lifting, making the block easy to move. It may come in handy on the scaffolds later on as well for the restoration masons.

Little feet

The block of new Muschelkalk limestone of over 1800 kilos was provided by the Stonemasonry Firm, who also carved the profiles on it. Unfortunately, the stonemason in question was somewhat preactieve, which caused that I was short on material for the lady's toes. Added to that was that the original sculpture was a lady with a unique anatomy. Her knee was pointing straight forward, but her left foot was targeted towards the viewers at home. So I made a virtue of necessity and right away took the opportunity to give her left foot a somewhat more logical position. The right foot also missed a lot of stone, but I was still able to carve it nicely by putting it more back and in a bit flatter position. If you don't place the original right next to it, it will not stand out at all. It was an interesting challenge and I'm really pleased with how it turned out (See the slideshow below for pictures).

Nest of owls, finish

Near her right shoulder is an owl mother with her nest with two young. The chicks look endearing, with their surprised look.

I finished the entire sculpture with a wide tooth chisel, and then smoothened the body of the young lady with a coarse grater, leaving the chisel marks still barely visible, for a lively effect. Her hair and the owl's feathers I accented with the tooth chisel.

Sculpture The Night by Eduard Kuilsburg- new copy in Muschelkalk limestoneSculpture The Night by Eduard Kuilsburg- new copy in Muschelkalk limestone

Headless chicken

The sculpture of The Day was in a lot worse condition than The Night. The rooster and the man were both missing their heads , and the hand with the torch had disappeared as well. So I first needed to reconstruct those parts before I could start presawing. I modeled the neck and head of the rooster with plasticine and the hand was remade pretty quickly too. The tricky part was the position of the original hand, because in the only picture I had, the fingers were in an almost impossible position. But the head was more of a challenge. because this young man had quite a big head. I had glued a piece of hard PIR-foam onto his shoulders and from there I started looking for the right size, position and shape of the head.
I tried to see my progress by comparing my pictures with the original image. In the end Stide decided he would carve this one, so he has has been the one to make the finishing touches to the remodelling. See the gallery below for an impression.

Gallery -click on a thumbnail for the entire picture-

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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70 percent debris

← To the first post about this project

day 7-2. 70% debris day 7-1a 70% debrisOne is often not aware, but when carving a statue from a block of stone, only a small part of it remains. I once calculated that very easily 70 percent of the block is thrown in the skip, and sometimes even more than that. …Read the whole article…