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 with my colleagues Stide Vos, who rents the studio next to mine. And in the past year on this project, our newest addition Jelle Steendam has joined us. He works in my shop space, as an independent sculptor, in consultation with me, on various sculptures.

Seven Sins

flying buttress no. 32 of the Eusebius Church is finished and installed

meanwhile, the first flying buttress figurines of the second series are being installed

We have now completed eight flying buttresses, but there are still 7 more with sculptures on this church. That why I recently welcomed the next series of 7 figurines to my yard, for flying buttress no. 24. The theme of this arc is 'The Seven Sins’.

An interesting theme, that immediately evokes various images to me as a sculptor. For how do you imagine Pride, Rage, or Envy? This kind of thing is very interesting if like me you're a storyteller. Most people may not know me that way, but I love stories.

Fortunately, this series also showed an interesting challenge for the original sculptor. Because what we're about to do with it is copying them. No new designs this time. It's true, three of the statues are missing an arm, but otherwise they're very clear in what they portray.

Broken

The Seven Sins: Lust, a broken old statue of impregnated tuffThey came in, packed in wooden crates and wrapped in netting. The reason for this is a difficult issue, and it's not clear to me what exactly went wrong with these figurines, even after quite a number of discussions. In short: The sculptures of the Seven Sins were carved in tuff around 1955. In the 1990s they started to deteriorate, and to preserve them, they were sent for impregnation with acrylic resin, up to the core. Read here↑ more about this process. It's a good process, albeit fairly expensive, but with these sculptures, something has gone completely wrong. In one way or another they started to expand, and they still do. Lots of deep cracks appeared, and suddenly pieces began falling off. To avoid worse all figurines were quickly removed and stored in boxes. And even inside those boxes they continued to expand and break.

Gluing it all up again

luchtboogbeelden 'De Zeven Zonden' are being glued up by Jelle Steendam in the yard of Beeldhouwerij van Velzen

So the first thing Jelle started on, with my help, was unpacking and bonding of these figurines. The pieces are razor sharp but fit reasonably well. After all the unpacking and gluing we had seven well recognizable sculptures in a row. Next step is to reconstruct the missing parts on the basis of old photographs (so if you have any old photos of the Seven Sins, in particular, of Gluttony, Avarice or Vanity, I hope you'll mail them to me!).

I have been looking forward a lot to make something beautiful out of them again!

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

lust-envy-pride-gluttony-rage-avarice-vanity

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.

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 in the beginning, 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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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.

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 Foolish Maiden


A foolish maiden

flying buttress statue from the Eusebius Church in Arnhem: a Foolish Maiden

the old tufa sculptur

Of the flying buttresses which we are now working on, each have their own theme. There are seven trumpet angels, people who represent the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, a group of Wise Maidens and this sculpture from the last arc depicts a Foolish Maiden.

Briefly, the story goes like this: …Read the whole article…

Flying buttress figurine: A Wise Maiden

flying buttress statue Wise Maiden

After the 26 flying buttress scupltures from the north side of St. Eusebius's Church I (along with team member Jelle) started carving the 27 sculptures from the South Side. The themes of these four flying buttresses are the Trumpeting angels (that I carved in September 2016 already), the Wise Maidens, the Foolish Maidens and the represent the Beatitudes. So the trumpet angels have already been completed, as are two of the Wise Maidens, the Beatitudes are almost done, on the top block to which the Supreme Commander In Chief is after, so we only have a few of these girls to go. This sculpture was a …Read the whole article…

Finally another update!

Storm before the silence

After my last post on this blog, it has remained silent for far too long here. But not because I haven't done anything! On the contrary, it's been way too busy to report it all.

Gallery -click on a photo to see it larger-

So I've been working on the carving of another coat-of-arms in Bentheimer sandstone. The design was almost the same as the previous one, but this one would would be suspended from a wall. Therefore, it was carried out lighter, without an edge to the relief and with a thinner base of 3 cms thick.

Flying Buttress Figurines

Then I went back to work on …Read the whole article…

Flying Buttress Figurines: four times Noah's Ark

Theo van Reijns theme of Noah's Ark

There are 96 flying buttress figurines on St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands), distributed over 14 flying buttresses. Four of these are filled with animal figures on the theme of Noah's Ark, designed by the Haarlem sculptor Theo van Reijn (and for the most part carved by his artisan sculptor Eduard van Kuilenburg). He awarded each of these …Read the whole article…

Corbel for the Eusebius Tower: a bird-like beast?

Bird beast: a copy of a tufa stone corbel by John Grosman in new Muschelkalk limestone for the Eusebius Tower in Arnhem
One of the last of the 10 corbels for the South- and North side of the tower of the Eusebius Church at 23 meters high was this winged bird-like beast. It sits somewhat cramped in its corner and there spreads its claws and wings. This piece was originally …Read the whole article…

Second visit to the scaffoldings of St. Eusebius's Church

Scaffold Visit at St. Eusebius's Church according flying buttress figurinesI almost forgot, but just a few weeks ago I've been back to the Eusebius Church for a second visit to the scaffolds, to check out the second group of flying buttress figurines on site. The first half …Read the whole article…

A visit to the scaffolding of St. Eusebius's Church: Corbels and 14 flying buttress figurines.

A visit to the scaffolding of St. Eusebius's Church

scaffolding visit Eusebius Church with flying buttress figurines

flying buttress no. 6

Last Thursday I visited the Eusebius Church in Arnhem. I had heard that two of the four flying buttresses were installed. For this church I had carved into new limestone 31 copies of the old flying buttress figurines and my colleague Stide also four. Stide has also replaced many larger and smaller corbels and is currently mainly engaged in carving stone masks. …Read the whole article…