Flying buttress figurine: The Idleness

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

first stage of rough carving The IdlenessAcedia

next stage in carving flying buttress figurine The Idleness

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

flying buttress figurine Idleness completed

I 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?

Maybe 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

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

Copying flying buttress statue Rage. Photo during the carving of the detailsPerhaps you remember when I received the next series of flying buttress figurines in my yard? In a post from 9 March 2019 on this blog, you can read how they arrived in our yard in pieces. Jelle then spent a long time gathering all the loose parts and bonding them into recognizable sculptures again. These were the seven sculptures from flying buttress no. 24, on the subject of The Seven Sins. The first sculptures are finished now.

I haven't even done that much work on this arc myself, mainly because I was busy with other projects: Thomas Aquinas, large crockets for The Utrecht Dom Cathedral, and family crests (I've been busy with the next one already, in Belgian bluestone).

Naughty ladies for Jelle

Jelle Steendam busy carving a copy of the flying buttress statuette of Gluttony Jelle Steendam with Gluttony

Stide has also been busy with other projects, so Jelle was the one who had the most momentum. He had presawn a number of sculptures and subsequently been carving away on Vanity and Gluttony. He is now working on Greed. I've only made Rage so far, and Stide is now working on Lust.

Flying Buttress Figurine Vanity, copy by Jelle Steendam

Vanity is very pleased with her own beauty

Vanity is a lady with long hair and a mirror, Gluttony is a fat lady stuffing something in her mouth, and Lust is a naked lady with toads to her chest. I'll keep it short about these sculptures here, the gentlemen can explain that on their own websites.

The Anger

copying flying buttress statue RageCarving a copy of flying buttresses figurine RageOne of the seven deadly sins is the rage, or anger. This was the statue that I got to carve myself. It represents a man pulling a knife and with a face distorted from rage and hair pulled back, frightening everyone else.

expression study of flying buttress figurine The Rage

The original image had sharp teeth, but the eyes were closed, so that the expression was a bit half-hearted. So I took some pictures to find out how the eyes are in such a face.

Latin terminology

carving flying buttress statue Rage (close-up)

Each of these seven vices has a latin term to it, and Ithought it would be nice to carve that word in the side of the profile for each of the sculptures. This would be Ira, the Latin word for rage, Gluttony becomes Gula, Vanity would be Superbia and Lust becomes Luxuria . Then there are Avaritia (greed/avarice), Acedia (laziness/sloth) and Invidia (envy/slander). And each virtue has its own term as well, but those will be coming up much later on, because after this, we first get to carve the Musicians and the Apostles from flying buttress no. 14 and 16.

Crates full of debris: old photos wanted!

crates with flying buttress figurines that are yet to be copied.

some of the crates with the old flying buttress figurines

a crate with a flying buttress figurine in ruins

if you have any old photos, that would help me a lot in their reconstruction

We had a few weeks of good weather, so I took the opportunity to measure up all of the remaining flying buttress sculptures, so we'd -in due course- be able to order the new stone in advance. But I didn't find all the figurines in good condition in their crates! There were a few crates among them with only a thick layer of debris at the bottom. I have no doubt that if necessary we could also reconstruct these sculptures properly, but seven of these figurines will not return to the church. People are thinking hard about a modern interpretation to fill the holes they leave behind.

weathered tuff sculptures in storage in the sculptor's yard

a small part of the old sculptures in the yard

But for the rest of them, we'll have to restore everything and let our creativity fill in the missing parts. If anyone has any old pictures of the flying buttresses on which the sculptures still shine in full regalia, I can use those very well. My email address can be found on the contact page.

Almost 60 finished, some 38 more to go?

weathered figurines of the musicians in storage

a few of the seven musicians and seven apostles from buttresses 14 and 16

We're coming along nicely, carving all those new figurines: with these three we've landed at 56 , and number 57 and 58 are already in progress. It is hard to imagine that we've made so many already and it still is fun to do! I must admit that the Foolish Maidens and especially the Crippled were not as interesting, but these are definitely worth it because they are so expressive and clearly tell a story. And then you have to remember that we also did a lot of work for the tower of St. Eusebius's Church. Especially Stide spent months of carving in the workshop in Arnhem and made a lot of corbels in new stone.

lijst met alle luchtbogen en hun thema's

-click on the image for a larger view-

There are still a lot of figurines to go, but not all of the sculptures can be saved. We do not know how many we'll still get to carve exactly, but for the curious among us, here's a list of all the flying buttress numbers and the themes for each arch (sorry, it's in Dutch only!).

to the next article about these flying buttress figurines→

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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copy of Thomas Aquinas completed

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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 this summer) 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 got started again,I had already anchored the two parts together with two thick stainless steel threaded rods of 20mm thick and about 50 or 60 cms long. That won't come off so easily. I made it so that the top part fits onto the lower part a bit like a bottle cap. But I still needed to connect the jointing plane with a restoration mortar, because carving this plane to fit 100% is unnecessarily difficult. I can't glue it entirely, because a horizontal glue layer is like asking for trouble. The water won't seep through the material and the stone above the line will rot and break by freezing. Of course I did attach the pins firmly with epoxy adhesive. With the mortar I grouted the seam in the same colour and now it's hard to tell the spot.

carving of the face and the bird on the copy of the statue of Thomas Aquinas

9. detailing bird and head

hoisting the statue of Thomas Aquinas

10. hoisting

Feathers and feet

This was followed by the wellknown steps of carving the details. With some measuring work and gradually detailing, a proper copy of the weathered sculpture emerged. I didn't use the pointing machine for this, because my presawing machine had already given me so much references that I could transfer the intermediate points much more easily with compasses and templates.

I had reconstructed the missing pieces with plastiline clay in the old statue. This clay will not harden and can easily be removed again later. The clay coloured remarkably well with the rest of the statue, so it did not interfere while copying.

The pigeon on Thomas’ s shoulder was carved with great detail, with tiny legs and feathers. This kind of thing is not really hard to make in this stone, it just requires a little more patience.

copy of statue of Thomas Aquinas put higher for the carving of the folds

11. carving of the lower half

finishing the lower side of the statue of Thomas Aquinas

12. carving the folds and finish sanding

At working height and easy to turn

I then placed the statue a level higher, in order to tackle its lower half. I always set them up close together and preferably on a turntable, so I can always put them in the best position and easily oversee everything.

I had these stands made so they fit on small pallets, so I can easily wheel them around with a pallet truck. They are stackable too, so I can build them up to a good height. But the stands are just for the larger statues; for smaller ones I'll use my yellow scissor tables. I can use the turntables on these as well.
In case that's still too low, I can add an extra platform to it.

sanding the habit of the sandstone sculpture

13. sanding the habit

copy of statue of Thomas Aquinas beside reconstructed original

14. statue finished; the original, here still with the clay repairs

Buffing and sanding

Once all the details were to my taste, the sanding started. With diamond files and abrasive stones, I sanded the entire statue. Later on it still didn't look good enough to me. I discovered that in this Udelfanger sandstone it works quite well if you finish it with sandpaper or emery cloth by hand. It gives a kind of velvety finish that suits the sculpture quite well, and all the scratches of the chisel and abrasive stones will quite easily disappear. However, it is again just another of those jobs that take a bit of patience. I've been sanding on his habit for days, and started to feel it in my fingertips.

copy and original side by side. Original now without clay

15. The finished copy and the original, here without clay

the original statue of Thomas Aquinas, damaged.

16. The original before repairs

Making history for posterity

At the rear of the original statue, there were all kinds of different chisel marks. I reproduced them in the copy. But to make things clear for future generations, I also carved in the following text:: copy 2019 k. van velzen

This should make it easier for future historians what happened to this statue in the present year. For I don't dare trust that this blog will survive the centuries. Perhaps not even the Internet will. It is said that one good solar eruption is enough to fry all of our electronics and even the electrical equipment and facilities. We'll see, but this way, Thomas will remain, at least a little, a guardian of history.

Gallery with a timelapse of carving the sculpture

-Click on a photo to view the larger image-

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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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 Kerkbestuur wild …Read the whole article…

Thomas Aquinas, part 2: sawing

Thomas Aquinas, part 2: sawing. Two large sandstone blocks

1. Two large sandstone blocks of Udelfanger sandstone: 1 for the statue of Thomas Aquinas, 1 for Serge's angel

Two large blocks

The work on the on copy of the statue of Thomas Aquinas has finally started. I had received two large blocks of Udelfanger sandstone some time earlier: one destined to make two angels out of it and one block from which I had to carve the two parts of the statue of St. Thomas from St John's Cathedral in Den Bosch and fit them together. So the first step was to divide both blocks into two with the diamond chainsaw.

Thomas. Aquinas, part 2: sawing.  I halved the block with the diamond chainsaw

2. The block is cut in half with the chainsaw

Thomas Aquinas, part 2: sawing. Presawing the lower body

3. Sawing the lower body

Presawing Thomas

After that I put one block on my copying saw and started presawing Thomas' lower half. The dividing line of the two parts was meant to be near the line of his hood, so that …Read the whole article…

The flying buttress of the seven sins

luchtboogbeelden 'De Zeven Zonden' old, arramged in the yard.

We, sculptors

A nice project is coming up soon! As you may know, for a few years now we've been working for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands). Who are we? Well firstly myself of course, Koen van Velzen, restoration sculptor, pleased to meet you. I work together with …Read the whole article…

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: …Read the whole article…

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 is not the only thing …Read the whole article…

the Supreme Commander-in-Chief (flying buttress figurine)

flying buttress figurine of Commandor in Chief by George vd Wagt. Copying into limestoneThe next flying buttress figurine is the topmost one of flying buttress no. 33. The statues on this flying buttress were carved in 1954 by George van der Wagt, and depict six crippled, blind and lame persons, after the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. At the top sits a male figure with a beard, in a blessing posture.

Mudra

flying buttress figurine of Spureme Commander-in-Chief (with Abhaya Mudra) by George vd Wagt. The copy in limestoneThis blessing posture is often depicted in Christian art, in particular in icons. I do not know if this posture has a specific name in Christian literature. I know it from the oriental yoga; where this hand gesture is called the Abhaya Mudra: meaning, "No fear'-hand gesture. It is meant to take all fear away from the blessed person. In the West, this gesture has a more general meaning of blessing.

Supreme Commander In Chief

The Beatitudes: old flying buttres figurine of Woman With Headache

The Beatitudes: old flying buttres figurine of Woman With Headache

It is not clear to me whom this figure should portray. It's mentioned as 'a prophet’ in the records of the restoration from 1954, but I think it was rather meant to depict God the Father, on his heavenly throne. Perhaps the sculptor meant that the people who suffer are blessed. Van der Wagt was apparently not religious. In a newspaper article from that time he explained that he did not know what the story of the Foolish and Wise Virgins was about. He borrowed a Bible and read the story, 'And that's why now there are women carrying cans of oil all over the church'. So I guess he that he didn't ascribe a higher meaning to this sculpture as much, but made it to complete the series. Perhaps this was also done at the request of the church council, or whoever chose the iconographic themes.

on to the next set of flying buttress figurines →

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 …Read the whole article…