Flying buttress figurine: Apostle Andrew last week

flying buttress figurine of Apostle Andreas, newly copied in Muschelkalk limestone

Setback

We're coming along nicely with carving the musicians from flying buttress no. 14, but we were faced with some adversity. The block for the trumpeter showed some significant cracks and had to be re-ordered. That's all part of the warranty by the quarry, but still annoying, because they will not reimburse transportation. Fortunately, I 'm not bothered too much by that myself, as it's all in the hands of Slotboom Stonemasons as they're the ones orderering the stone. Added to that, we were still missing the sculpture of the Accordionist, which had mistakenly been glued to the new movie theater. But meanwhile it has now been pried loose and has finally arrived in our yard. I immediately started with pre-cutting with the saw machine and the first carving right away. We were also soon to receive a delegation of customers who had bought an old statue of the apostles, but Coronavirus has thrown a spanner in the works.

Attributes for each apostle

Meanwhile, we've just begun carving work on flying buttress no. 16, a series of 6 times an apostle and the Mystic Lamb up on top. Stide has already completed the apostle St Peter, Jelle has just finished carving the Mystic Lamb, and I completed Apostle Andrew last week for this buttress.. He was easy to recognize by the cross he holds. It's a jolly group altogether, those apostles: all of them hold the torturing device by which they were put to death. Those were the days.

Andrew did not want to be crucified in the same way as Jesus, but that never bothered them: they made the St. Andrew's Cross especially for him. We now use it as a warning sign for a level railway crossing.

Coarsely carved

side view Saint AndrewAs I previously reported, these flying buttress figurines tend to get more voluminous and rougher as sculptor Eduard van Kuilenburg was nearing the end of the work. From arch to arch you can clearly see the development the sculptor went through.

In the fascinating book on the sculpture at this church is an anecdote that relates how the church council responded in shock to the "crowded flying buttresses’ carrying these massive apostles. The six disciples sit there looking impressive, with big hands and broad heads. They're fairly easy to carve, but very expressive in their execution. At different angles, you can see how the sculptor worked: he drew on a number of sides the contours of arms, body and legs and just started carving away. That's why his left arm still remains quite flat and follows the mass of the original block.

Two right feet

Apparently his feet were less important, because Van Kuilenburg spent considerably less attention to those details. Like the Listening Man that Stide copied and with The Little Praying Man from the northwest side, one of his feet is the other way around, with the big toe on the wrong side. Again, I just corrected that a bit, that doesn't further affect the overall look of the sculpture.

No changes made

But apart from that one foot, I haven't changed anything in this figurine. It was carved a little bit cartoon-like, and anatomical correctness was clearly subordinate to its narrative power. If you would try to adjust everything by all means to 'how it should be', then you would clearly miss the point and end up with something that's neither this not that. Therefore I have tried to approach the coarse structure of the old figurine by using the bush hammer-chisel, because this also contributes to the overall character of this statue. I thought it was a very expressive little thing, that reminded me strongly of the twelve heads that Stide copied on the west facade of the tower of St. Eusebius's Church.

All in all a very nice sculpture to carve. This series will definitely be clearly silhouetted on the arches around the chancel of the church later on!

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↑

A Japanese lantern for Clingendael Estate

An old Japanese lantern

Japanese Garden Clingendael

Japanese Garden of Park Clingendael. Photo by Takeaway – own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

You'll probably know them: the granite lanterns adorning Japanese gardens. I didn't know this, but even in the Netherlands, we have wonderful Japanese-styled gardens. Actually you can't really call them Japanese Gardens, because the criteria for these are apparently very strict. Rule no. 1 is as I believe that it should be located in Japan, and that just won't fit inside The Netherlands. Anyway, in The Hague, specifically in the grounds of ​​Clingendael Estate in Wassenaar, there is also a Japanese garden. A very beautiful one, that was created around 1915 and only opens for 8 weeks per year. To save the moss.

Copying in Bavarian granite

blocks of Flossenburger granite gray-yellowAround the time of the construction of the garden, its owner imported a number of granite lanterns for her garden. Among them was a seemingly primitive Japanese lantern, made in Shirakawa-granite. It weathered rather quickly however, and was restored a number of times over the years. And then in May 2017 I was approached by Raymund Bervoets of Restauratie Breda, who asked me what it would cost to have a copy carved in Bavarian granite.

The lantern consists of five parts: the base, the shank, the fire chamber, the roof, and the cap. Typically, all the parts are loosely stacked onto each other, but in this one, because of all the repairs, several parts were glued together. Its base had gotten lost over time, perhaps it had weathered and been done away with, so at one time a composite cast piece was made.

Chrysanthemum themed

reconstruction of the shank and fire chamber of the lantern on the sawing machineUsually Japanese lanterns look very different. For starters they haven't got 20 but 16 lobes, and thus get to bear the title 'Imperial'. Also, base and shank will be carved much more clearly. But the common element was that the roof of the lantern consisted of chrysanthemum petals. Perhaps this was a somewhat more rustic version of an official lantern?

Raymund had done a lot of research into the right shapes for this lantern. On this basis, a plan was drawn up for copying. We needed a new design for the base, with, just as the roof and the shank, has 20 lobes. The shank was supposed to get a bit of a tummy. The fire chamber had deepened 'edges’ so that a small window frame with rice paper could be put in. The roof had to get 20 chrysanthemum leaves just as the original had, but sharper and fuller, and the cap had to go get a tip. And everything was supposed to get a hand-carved character.

Of course, no problem! You ask, we run.

Getting to work

presawing granite shank piece on sawing machineBureaucratic mills never grind very quickly and certainly not in The Hague, but at the end of 2019 I got the green light and I could start reconstructing the lantern and then copying it in Flossenburger yellow-gray granite. With plaster I completed the five components, cut out the major shapes on my presawing machine, and carved the copy just as irregular as its original. Many details were deteriorated quite badly, so I had to bring them back a lot sharper in the copy.

Carving the base of the lantern

Lantern base in granite completedThe base was supposed to be partly covered in earth, and a layer of soil was to cover it. I thought it best to also shape the underground part with a hand carved finish. Of that, I made a short film. Carving granite with a chrome vanadium chisel is not easy! Only at the end I realized that I had a carbide (tungsten) point chisel lying around somewhere. That proved to go remarkably easier. In the first chisel, its tip was blunt after just a few hits, but with the carbide chisel, I could keep carving for a long time. I was afraid that the tip of the chisel would shatter at the first blows, but it all went without any problem.

A special way of experiencing a Japanese lantern

The Japanese garden in Wassenaar is actually too popular to let everyone experience it in peace. If there would have been access to the garden all year round, the moss would not survive the many photo sessions. Therefore, it is only accessible to the public for eight weeks a year. But not everyone keeps to that rule! It has happened a number of times that uninvited visitors entered the garden at night and went frolicking about with lanterns. Since all the parts are stacked loose, several times, parts have ended up in the pond.

Jam jar and cap

lantern in Japanese gardenFor that reason, we discussed how we could make the copy more stable. The result was that I was to make a kind of jam jar structure for each component. On top of the lower part, I would make a raised edge, and the portion above that was to receive a cavity that just fits over the lip. Like the cap of a jar.

As a result, the stack will no longer be easy to shift, but can still be lifted. That's why we've also applied a flexible adhesive between the parts during installation. In this way the components can always be removed someday, with some precaution, but they are anchored better in case someone wants to throw the thing over.

Gallery

-Click on a picture for an enlarged view-

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↑

Flying buttress figurine: A Flute Player

flying buttress figurine of Flutist 1flying buttress figurine of Flutist 2A guided tour

Last week I completed another flying buttress figurine, a fluter player from the sieries of Musicians from flying buttress no. 14 this time. I had already presawn this sculpture a long time ago, but since I had recently completed a number of projects I could now get on with this one. Around the same time a group of visitors came to the sculotor's yard. These people had bought an old flying buttress figurine from this series, and we gave a tour and explained about our work, as shown below in a short video and pictures.

flying buttress figurine of Flutist Presawnflying buttress figurine of Flutist 3

Koen, Jelle, customer and Stide with flying buttress sculptures by Jelle

Koen, Jelle, customer and Stide with flying buttress sculptures by Jelle

to the next article about flying buttress images →

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↑

Statue of Pope Leo the Great, completed

sanding the chasuble The statue of Pope Leo the Great, carved out of two parts of Udelfanger sandstone, is completed. I made this copy for the restoration of St John's Cathedral in Den Bosch, The Netherlands. You can read the two previous articles on this subject on my blog under the following links: here↑ the article on the presawing work and here↑ the second article, on the fitting together of the two parts, and why this is made out of two pieces of stone.

Detailing, copying, finishing

The procedure, after all the presawing and fitting together of lower- and upper body of the statue of Pope Leo, is the same as in the previous statue of Thomas Aquinas: just copying what the old statue was like and what I had earlier reconstructed in plastiline clay. Upon completion it was mainly down to detailing. All details had to be finished very sharp and after much sanding I got the statue smooth and crisp. All false dents were removed.

I had discovered that grit files of (tungsten)carbide work well on this fine sandstone. I had bought three very cheap grit files and bent two of them, so that I could reach every nook and cranny. It turned out very convenient for the first rough finishing. After that, I could finish the surface completely free of scratches with sandpaper.

By now, the statue has been sent on its journey, encased in a wooden box, off to St. John's Cathedral, where it will be put on the site of the old statue on the facade in due course . The original statue will be placed inside the adjacent museum, in storage.

Sculpture of Pope Leo the Great, carved out of two parts Udelfanger sandstone, completed

Gallery

-Click on an image to get the enlarged view-

 

→ Go to the first message about this-

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↑

Statue of Pope Leo the Great, part two

located in the joint face are two stainless steel pins of 20 mm. Statue of Pope Leo the Great

1 Statue in two parts

the top- and lower part of the statue of Pope Leo the Great are presawnWork on the statue of Pope Leo the Great proceeds much more smoothly than I expected. When I explained to the committee and to my colleagues about my plan for carving of the statue out of two parts, most of them thought it was quite a bold approach. Because the statue needs to be carved from two parts, as I explained before in the previous article and the article on the similar statue of Thomas Aquinas.

In the original statue, the layers were used vertically, but for the copy it's desired that the layers run through the statue horizontally. Since there are no blocks of Udelfanger sandstone available that are tall enough, it has to be made out of two pieces. Where would you put the seam? An initial proposal was to split it at the top and bottom of the statue, below the line of tufts of its outer garment, plus another one in the crown. I myself proposed to follow the seam of the garment, along the bottom line of the cross on his chasuble.

Finding out the way the statue sits first

The rough carving of the torso of the statue of Pope Leo the GreatNow I can't just stick the two pieces together after the presawing. Firstly, there is a lot of surplus material on both parts at the spot of the joint plane. Secondly, there would be two versions of a hand holding a book. The book needed to be removed on the upper part, because that piece sits behind the book. I also couldn't reach all parts with my presawing machine such as behind the book. So I had to partly carve both parts just to see how it all fits.

Determining the joint plane

upper- and lower body carved far enough to fit the two parts togetherThe seam doesn't run through the statue in a straight line, but is rather curved. The difficult part is on the one hand to get the bend the same in both parts. It has to fit exactly and the lines of the robe should connect nicely. On the other hand, there is a fragile point near both shoulders, where the stone is not perpendicular to the outside, but will form a thin wedge. In this place I had to be extra careful that I don't break anything off by accident.

Lifting and lowering

First fit of the state is promising.Once I had determined the line of the chasuble on both parts I could start chiselling away the excess stone. I suspended the head from the hoist with two thin straps that I had tied in the correct position. Then it became a matter of lowering, looking where it didn't fit, hoisting, adjusting, and back down again, and repeat, until it was just right. I had made the lower part of the statue of Pope Leo the Great a bit narrower at the top, so that the upper body fitted over it as a lid. The picture shows an early stage; it doesn't fit properly yet here, because there are still slits at the shoulders.

Putting in the anchoring

located in the joint face are two stainless steel pins of 20 mm. Statue of Pope Leo the GreatFor a really strong connection between the two parts to I inserted two anchor rods of 20 mm thick stainless steel wire ends. Now the two bars have to fit very well inside the two parts and cannot disturb their alignment. It is therefore important that they are exactly parallel. Also, the holes in the two parts should be perfectly superimposed and aligned. You always need to be careful when drilling! When the four holes were to my liking and Ifound that the alignment was still the same, I bonded the two pins with epoxy . Then the two pieces were stuck tightly together, but there was still some space in the joint plane. It is almost impossible to make it so that these are less than a millimeter away from each other.

Pouring the mortar

two part statue of Pope Leo the Great in Udelfanger sandstone: pouring the seam with restoration mortar

But in this case that space worked in my favor. Besides the four holes for the pins I had drilled an extra hole, which ended up in the neck of the statue of Pope Leo the Great. I still had a bucket with Jahn grout that I could use for this case. First I thoroughly soaked the statue and especially the joint, so that it wouldn't dry out the mortar too soon and then not fill the entire cavity.

the white grout in the pouring bowlThen I took some modeling clay and closed up the seam almost completely . Only at the shoulders, I left a small hole. These were the highest points, so that was where air could become trapped. Then I modeled a bowl for pouring in the neck of the Pope. The final steps were simple: mixing up the grout, casting until the shoulders began to leak, closing up the shoulders and continuing to pour until that bowl was full. After a few days, the seam was closed perfectly: porous enough, but sturdy and well connected. Finally, I sealed up the edge of the tiny seam with restoration mortar for Udelfanger sandstone, so you can't see anything of it anymore.

Shaping

beginning with detailing the head and the crownAnd the rest is simple enough: just carving a copy of how the original looks. I work from top to bottom and have now reached the beard. I've had a lot of work on the crown and the cross, in getting it all nice and tight. Yet there is still a lot of work left, but that all comes later. For now I am very happy anyway that everything fits beautifully and that it worked out fine without any damages.

Gallery

 

detailing the beard and face

detailing beard and face

Read the work of this In the next article.

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↑

Presawing Pope Leo the Great

Pope Leo the Great upper body

Another saint's statue

stained glass window of Pope Gregory

Pope Gregory looked suspiciously like Pope Leo

stained glass window with inscription Gregor . Magn.

But the name of this pope is at the bottom of the window: Gregorius Magnificus

As you might remember I copied the statue of Thomas Aquinas for St. John's Cathedral earlier this year. That statue has now been installed and I could move right on to the next one: Pope Leo the Great. It's a one hundred year old statue of a bearded man with a tiara, a book and a Byzantine cross. At first I thought it represented Pope Gregory the Great in stone, because the stained glass window behind the statue shows a similar Pope: also with a book and a Byzantine cross and tiara, but without a beard and with a dove.

Attila the Hun

Cracks in the face of the statue of Pope Leo

weathering traces in the face

But it turned out that I was mistaken after all, partly because the console of this statue shows Attila the Hun crouching. In the year 452 the Hun Army was camped near Lake Garda, with plans to attack Rome, but Pope Leo visited him and talked it out of his head. Talk about power of persuasion. Pope Gregory only came a hundred years later.

Weathering process

robe of the statue of Pope Leo has weathered

disappeared folds in the garment

The two statues of Thomas Aquinas left in a crate headed for Den Bosch, where the new statue was placed on the church and the old statue was put in the museum. By return mail I received the old statue of Pope Leo back. On my scaffolding visit I noticed that the statue still had almost all its details, but the stone wasn't in a very good condition.

Just like Thomas, the statue was made of Udelfanger sandstone. The material has been applied vertically at the time, and that has had an impact on the weathering: vertical traces of watering and the disapperance of a number of folds of his garment. The statue also shows serious exfoliation on the back and if nothing happened now you'd have a chance that in a decade many details will be much stronger affected, which would make it very difficult to make a proper reconstruction of it.

Vertical layering

foot of the statue of Pope Leo the Great

crumbled pleats

As I explained in the first article about the statue of Thomas Aquinas it's not desirable to have the stone's layers run vertically through the statue. But it is not always possible to avoid that. In the quarry, the thickness of the right layer is not more than about 120 centimeters, and the statue is at least 150 cms tall. Over a hundred years ago they picked a horizontal piece of stone for that reason and put it straight up. This is known as standing layering. But this time I need to make a statue, in which the layers run horizontally. That can only happen if I make this statue out of two pieces. A body out of one piece, and a piece with the head and shoulders.

Presawing

presawing the new statue, step 2

presawing the lower part, step 2

I had already had some blocks of stone lying in the yard: a remaining piece of the Thomas torso and the second half of the block from which I've presawn Serge's angel. Those two pieces were not mine, but they belonged to St John's. After consultation it was decided that I could use these two blocks for this statue. I started reconstructing the missing parts with plastiline clay. Next up was the presawing of the lower body, in three steps from coarse to fine. This was followed by the same process for the upper body.

Next step

presawing head of the new statue, step 2

Presawing the shoulders and head, step 2

After this will come the rough carving of the two pieces, at the point where the seam should be. The plan is to follow the lower line of the cross on the chasuble of the pope. It will be a rather difficult job! Read more on this interesting challenge in the next article about this statue.

presawing the new statue, step 3

presawing lower body ready

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↑

Flying buttress figurine: The Idleness

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

first stage of rough carving The Idleness

Acedia

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

next stage in carving flying buttress figurine The IdlenessI 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?

Dolce Far Niente

flying buttress figurine Idleness completedMaybe 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


to the next article about flying buttress images →

Beeldhouwerijblog.nl is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well: beeldhouwerijvanvelzen.nl

I'm also on Instagram
and Twitter
and on YouTube

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

Copying flying buttress statue Rage. Photo during the carving of the detailsAs you may perhaps remember: on 9 March 2019 I posted a blogpost about our next series of flying buttress figurines to be carved for St. Eusebius' church, which arrived in pieces in our yard. These images were impregnated with acrylic resin, but something went wrong and they burst out …Read the whole article…

copy of Thomas Aquinas completed

-Click on the pictures for more details-

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 out of limestone) 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 picked up the thread were …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 Church Administration wanted to …Read the whole article…