Finials and side crockets, for Eusebius and Dom Church

finials in Muschelkalk for St. Eusebius's ChurchFinials for St. Eusebius's Church

We are working on the completion of three projects: the first half of St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands) is almost finished, the last pieces of St. John's cathedral are completed, and the last crockets for the South Chapel of the Utrecht cathedral are packed and ready for shipping as well. The finials in the above picture are destined for the south side of St. Eusebius's Church. These are fairly simple crockets in French Massangis-limestone, with a post-war era design, but they will contour well with their clean lines. There are only a few of those, and it's indent work: damaged finials and crockets are cut out from the surrounding stone and a new one is inserted at that spot. Tuesday 19 February, I was on the scaffolding at the church to carve another few of these crockets on site. Always fun, such a visit to the scaffolds.

My own pieces were not yet inserted into the church walls, apart from the corbel of "The Night’ that I carved recently, but it was still completely enclosed between the scaffolding planks. Stides heads in Muschelkalk, however, were clearly visible, a joy for the eye.

Jelle and I started the morning there with measuring the next batch of 7 flying buttress figurines. Unfortunately many of them were seriously damaged. I hope they do not need too much work before they can serve as a model for their copies!

Tuffstone side crockets for the Utrecht cathedral

old side crockets ready for transport- a beaten-up collection

The last side crockets for the Utrecht Cathedral are now ready for transport as well here. It was a fun project: 29 side crockets in tuffstone for the South Chapel, on the side of the inner courtyard, the Pandhof. We divided this work between the three of us, Stide and I carved about 6 each, and Serge made the rest.

With my chainsaw I separated the old side crockets from their heavy background parts, so they can be put into storage. But I must say that these old blocks will quickly erode once they're on pallets at ground level. Apparently they can certainly get soaked atop the church, but they'll also dry up again very fast. Here on the ground they'll stay wet for much longer and the old pieces also suffer a lot more from frost.

Scaffolding visit on Valentine's Day

We're hoping to carve a lot more for this church, sometime in the future. So we've recently already been back again to see the first blocks in place, and on Valentine's Day we were able to look down on a boisterous Utrecht in bright sunshine. The terraces were full due to the unprecedented warm February sunshine, and with an elated feeling we were looking out over Utrecht and the Domtoren across the street. So, bring on that church!

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 for Utrecht's Domkerk and St John's Cathedral 2

Finial

As you may perhaps remember: I last year I carved ornaments a few times and even made some stonemasonry work for St. John's Cathedral in 's-Hertogenbosch.

The blog posts can be found under the following headings: Stonemasonry work and ornaments for St. John's Cathedral, Finally another update! and Ornamental work for the Utrecht Dom Church and St. John's.

I recently got a new batch of ornamental work in the yard again, including another identical finial block for the same buttress finial of St. John's Cathedral. The first block I carved in its entirety myself, including the stonemasonry parts. The second block was precarved by stonemason Mike Slotboom from Slotboom Steenhouwers in Winterswijk and the ornamental work was done by my colleague Serge. The third block was carved by three young stonemasons from Slotboom Stonemasons, who have all done their terrific best, and I carved the ornaments again: the crockets.

pallet with ornamental work in the yard of the sculptor's workshop

Together with my colleagues

sculotor's workshop with many projectsFor larger projects, I work with my colleagues Stide Vos and Serge van Druten. We were all trained as restoration sculptors at our former employer's Beeldhouwerij Mooy in Amersfoort. There, we worked together for about 15 years, so we know each other really well and get along famously.

Self-employed in the sculptor's workshop

We've continued all three as independent restoration sculptors, but keep in contact regularly, because it is such an incredibly small world. For this branch, the carving of ornaments and statues in new stone for mainly churches and castles, there are now still three restoration sculptors working fulltime. To my knowledge. It has always been a small group and that's never been a lot larger; there are times when all the work seems to come all at once and times when we really do not have enough work to keep all of us going. That's why we do other work as well, such as autonomous sculptures, reliefs, bronze statues, house signs, repairs, burial monuments, work for other sculptors and much more.

Jelle starting on a flying buttress figurine

Recently, Jelle Steendam has come to work in the beeldhouwerij to help alleviate the pressure and increase his knowledge at the same time. So that makes four in the Netherlands. There are of course many other sculptors in stone and I also know a few other restoration sculptors, but I rarely encounter these within my own genre.

Dom Cathedral in Utrecht

overview West Facade of South Chapel of Dom church Utrecht

Wherever the numbers are the side crockets are to be replaced

At this time we're mainly working together on sculptural- and ornamental work for the Utrecht Cathedral and the Eusebius Church in Arnhem. Serge and Stide in particular have made many tuffstone side crockets for the Dom cathedral already, but in between all of the other work I also managed to carve a few flowers in tuff myself. On the right is a picture of the three Gothic pointed arch facades, with a triangular frame above it. Along that frame, 12 crocket flowers are mounted, and with two and a half façade that makes 30 crocket flowers in all. One doesn't count, so we'll need to make 29. This is just a fraction of what you can find on this beautiful church.

Gallery -click on the thumbnail for the whole picture-

Snow

It was cold in the sculptor's workshop, but it's beautiful, and we can dress to the occasion. As long as we can warm up again during breaks we'll be fine.

 

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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Year review of 2018

Year review of 2018

It seemed nice to sum up this year of sculpting in some words and pictures. Not in chronological order, because my work sometimes jumps from one thing to another, for often suddenly urgent commissions come in between. I like it that way too, I love things being a bit unpredictable! But only when there's not too much pressure on things.

Finishing flying buttresses 4, 5, 6 and 7

Gallery -click on a photo to see it larger-

Last year I spent a long time making flying buttress figurines for the north side of St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem. Early January that job was nearly done; I only had to make a Monk, a Bear, a man calling Noah, a Monkey and a Ark with animals to round it off. It was the last series of the four flying buttresses themed around Noah's Ark.

Calamities and Repairs

Amid heavy snowfall and storms, work went on as usual. I accounted for a severe frost period and just continued sawing. A part of the barn didn't feel the same way about it, and collapsed under the weight of a thick layer of wet snow. A few weeks later I narrowly escaped from a disaster, when in a torrential storm a sheet of asbestos was blown from the roof and landed right next to my finished flying buttress sculptures.

Part of my repair work consists of patching up damaged statues. For instance I had to repair a Faun with a Pan Flute and a statue of Thomas Aquinas in my shop this year.

Injury and recovery

Something I've not reported on this blog is that I've been incapacitated for quite some time by injuries earlier this year. I hear you think it would surely have come about because of my job. I do have quite the productivity and it is rather physical work. And at times there can be some pressure to finish it all in time. But it wasn't anything like that. First it was an accident when I cut open my thumb deep on a party tent that threatened to blow away. Just three stitches and two weeks later I was back at work again.

But it was not long before I was back home for some weeks. This time I had overstrained both my arms during removals (at temperatures around minus eight degrees Celsius). At least I now know how to recover from two tennis elbow quickly: not with all kinds of therapies, but by massaging the muscles in your forearm deeply for several times a day. This way, you'll relieve the tension from of the muscle and it will no longer pull so hard on your funny bone, let's put it this way. Learned on YouTube and experimentally tested myself.

My own work: Pan in porphyry

block of porphyry for plaster image of Pan

plaster sculpture of Pan with block of porphyry

After all these flying buttress figurines, I started enthusiastically on my own project: a Pan in porphyry. I had presawn it on my machine and had just begun carving it, but in spite of all the good intentions, I had to put it aside because of other urent projects.

Ornamental works: Aachen, Utrecht, Den Bosch

For all kinds of ornaments had arrived in the yard, which were to be made first. So this year I made finials and crockets for Aachen Cathedral, for the Cathedral of Utrecht, again for the Utrecht Dom, and for St John's Cathedral in Den Bosch. Some of them in collaboration with my colleagues. There was stonemasonry work to do. Even a newspaper article was written about it and a video was made.

Family Crests and griffins

Then there were two sandstone family crests which I made in between other stuff, one with an edge and one without edge, and I have been modelling away on a set of mirrored griffins. I hope to finish them next year.

Jelle, Jeffrey and Roel

Annual Review 2018

Wise Virgin with a Dove, copied by Jelle

With so much work it was not surprising that I could not keep up with it all by myself. Hence my collaboration with my colleagues and Serge and Stide. Even then, we were not able to finish it all in time. Also, I had long thought about someone to pass the craft on to, someone who wanted to become a restoration sculptor. But how do you get someone who fits the bill? Fortunately Jelle came to visit. Exactly at the right time. He has now been working with me for more than six months, to the satisfaction of both of us and doing excellent work!

Annual Review 2018

Jeffrey helps presawing

Then this summer I've had help from Jeffrey a few times, who came to help out with presawing on the machine, while at the same time my nephew Roel came by to begin to learn carving letters in stone.

Annual Review 2018

Roel learning to carve letters

 

More flying buttress figurines

After the first set of 26 flying buttress figurines from the north side of the Eusebius Church, we now had to make the 27 from the Southside. But fortunately from flying buttress no. 32 I had already made seven angels put together, plus a girl from buttress no. 36, and Stide had done one as well. Still we've been quite busy with the other 18, and we've not yet finished. Fortunately Jelle has now made a number of them as well. Anyway, on this blog you can read about Blind Man, Woman with Clubfoot, Wise Maiden with Cross, Foolish Maiden with Oil Can and the Supreme Commander In Chief.

Corbels for the Tower

Since in March 2019 the Eusebius Church tower is scheduled to be completed, those sculptures had absolute priority. I've presawn some of the corbels and carved a set of them for the North- and south side of the tower, such as a Woman with Tulips, a Man with Bird, a Man with Ears of Corn, a Woman with two Doves, a Cat with Wings and a Bird beast. Sawing work was mostly done on the corbels from the west side of the tower (12 heads and 5 large corbels), but those were all carved by Stide. Time to once again visit to the scaffolds of the church…

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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Ornamental work for the Utrecht Dom Church and St. John's

A suspended ornament for a canopy of St. John's

Ornamental work in Udelfanger sandstone: suspended ornament for a canopy from St. John's Cathedral

I'll still need to adjust the profiled parts later

It was an interesting last week of the year. I first went to St. John's Cathedral in Den Bosch, where I needed to carve some ornamental parts. It was a ‘suspended ornament’ from a canopy. The old one had weathered down and I was asked to make a new one. But the scaffolders above my head were already busy breaking down the scaffolds, so after taking some measurements I went back to Achterveld again with the workpiece to finish it there. I had actually already done this ornament long before that, but when I got there the first time, I noticed that the flowers I had carved on it so nicely were bigger than on the ornaments around it. So, I've taken it back again, carved the new basic shape in the workshop, then went back again to Den Bosch, and made a start with carving the leaf motif there, then back to Achterveld, and finished it there.. Now I'll still have to install it on site. Sometimes things are bad, and sometimes they're worse. Like this time.

Visitors

Ⓒ Thijs Rooimans for De Telegraaf

Wednesday we would get a studio visit from an eight persons strong committee, in connection to the ornamental work for the Utrecht Dom Cathedral. But we had only just received the stone from which we had to make them. So we immediately started the carving work. We'll be carving 29 side crockets in tuff for a restoration of three facades of the Southern Chapel. This is near the courtyard, the Pandhof. This quadrangle by the way is a very magical place, a must when visiting the inner city of Utrecht. Serge had modeled two maquettes, and Stide and I had each carved an example. The comittee examined the design and details of the original fragments and of the copies. Of course the carved and molded specimens were as required, even though mine was still not quite finished.

In the newspaper

After I'd finished it, I uploaded a picture on Instagram right away, and for good measure, one on Twitter as well. Apparently I had put the right hashtags next to it, for less than an hour later I got a call from a reporter who wanted to write an article in the Utrecht edition of De Telegraaf. At the end of the day the photographer came, and made that beautiful photo above. Click on the picture to the right to read the article. Pity is that it was written so that it looks like the others are employed by me, and they're not. Stide, Serge and I are all independent sculptors who work together. Even new addition Jelle is self-employed. Now that I'm getting more publicity, it doesn't make me everyone else's boss automatically!

On the radio

Later on, we were called by RTV Utrecht. They also wanted to make an item on the radio. Fortunately Stide can talk easily, so I was very happy that he wanted to take that part. He told something about the background of gothic ornamental work and our role in this restoration.

On TV

RTV Utrecht also wanted to shoot something for their TV channel, so today a cameraman came, who shot a few hours of material for what ultimately ended up as half a minute of TV material. View the video and accompanying article here on their site: ↑

For us it is amazing that something that we've been doing more than 25 years suddenly is getting so much attention. But that's probably because the cathedral and especially the Utrecht Dom tower is right at the heart of their 'Stadsie' (town). Otherwise I can't explain it. It is also of course a compelling picture, of these dusty men working outside and making beautiful things in the cold, but obviously no world news.

ornamental work for Domkerk Utrecht

Ⓒ Steef Bouwman

Explaining yet again

I found it remarkable that at first for several journalists it wasn't really clear how this restoration process takes place. These of course are things which we never think about anymore! But eventually we could make it clear to them that first the restoration architect makes a plan, then the contractor takes out the parts to be replaced, next, the stonemason precarves the blocks and makes all of the profiled parts, and lastly we come in and finally make the ornamental parts in the places where the stonemason left a block. Then the new block goes to the cathedral, the contractor puts it back in again and points it all neatly. "So these ornaments are really used!?’ But of course, they are being copied and actually used to replace the old parts in their original location: three gothic arches on the Pandhof side of the cathedral. Smack in the centre of Utrecht.

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

Stonemasonry work and ornaments for St. John's Cathedral

 

sandstone base block for finialJust like a few years ago, I'm working on some parts for St John's Cathedral in Den Bosch. At the time I carved, among other pieces, a canopy in my shop this year. This time I made a base block for a finial put together. This is the lower part of …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…

Crockets and finials for Aachen Cathedral

Two new finials for the Aachen Cathedral in Irish bluestone

For Aachen Cathedral some pinnacles had to be replaced. The old ones were worn and had cracked because of rusting iron and because the layering of the stone was not properly applied. The deposition direction of the stone should preferably be processed horizontal, otherwise there is a risk that a long vertical slice breaks off. In this case, they applied it vertically.

The material for these pinnacles is Irish bluestone. It is …Read the whole article…

The final pinnacle for St. Cunera's tower

Last pinnacle for St. Cunera's tower. tuffstone block of Pinnacle of Cunera's tower

old weathered pinnacle block

← to the first post about this restoration

The restoration of St. Cunera's tower in Rhenen is nearing its end. My colleague Jan Tolboom from Leusden had taken on the commission to supply all of the ornaments for this project, namely eight large pinnacles and some crockets. …Read the whole article…

Pinnacle for a flying buttress of St. Cunera's tower

Ornaments Cunera tower Rhenen1

the lower block of the pinnacle

Currently, St. Cunera's tower in Rhenen, the Netherlands, is being restored. Most of the old tuffstone blocks are being replaced with new Muschelkalk limestone. I carved a number of ornaments on some profiled blocks, for (and in cooperation with) my colleague Jan Tolboom. …Read the whole article…

Canopy finished

Baldakijn voor de Sint-Janskathedraal in 's-Hertogenbosch in Udelfanger zandsteen

ornaments on a canopy for the St. John's Cathedral in's-Hertogenbosch in Udelfanger sandstone

The baldachin for St. John's Cathedral in Den Bosch is ready. The stonemasonry was made by Mike Slotboom of Slotboom Steenhouwers in Winterswijk; I carved the ornaments on this piece. The trickiest of these were the hanging parts on the front, the so-called suspended flowers. …Read the whole article…