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.

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, 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

After that, I went on with the next set of flying buttress figurines for St. Eusebius's Church. Last year I've carved 24 of these for 4 flying buttresses on the north side of the church, around the theme of Noah's Ark. This year the four flying buttresses on the south are up. No, three, because a flying buttres with 7 trumpet angels have in november 2016 already been copied by me. We started this time with a series which was originally designed and carved by George van der Wagt, around 1954.

The theme of this group is the beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. Van der Wagt has portrayed this by carving a group of lame, crippled, blind and stricken people into the tufa. But I honestly do not see the connection of this with the blessings of Jesus in the Bible. Van der Wagt felt that it should be strongly angled so as to get a clear silhouette from below. But after fifty years it has become very difficult to even see what it's supposed to be, even from up close. Of one of the sculptures, of a Woman with a Clubfoot, only one quarter was left. This one I needed to reconstruct before I could copy it.

A new team member

I was quite busy with the coat-of arms, the griffins and the flying buttress figurines, and much more would arrive later. It looked as if it would be to much to handle all by myself. My colleague Stide was doing sculpture parts for the tower of St. Eusebius's church, and my other colleague Serge was working on his own commissions, so I was looking for a solution. And that came in the person of Jelle. Jelle was trained as an artist and knows his way well around stone. Because there is always more to be learned in this trade, it's a beautiful combination: Jelle will help carving the sculptures and meanwhile will learn some tricks of the trade. For me it's also nice that this handicraft will not die out for the Netherlands after my generation of three colleagues has left. Below Jelle in action with the copying saw. This figurine will then be carved by himself.

We also did some sawing work on some flying buttress figurines and on 12 heads for the west facade of the tower , which are currently being carved by Stide.

Myself, carving a flying buttress image that was just presawn

Jelle and I together made these figurines taking each a turn. Work on the griffins is on hold now for a while, because the church has a completion date set: In March the four arches should be complete and the tower finished. In 2020 the other forty flying buttress figurines on the other side of the church will follow. Next, to taste the atmosphere and see what has already been created for this church, on a visit to the scaffolds of St. Eusebius's church.

Four flying buttresses on the north side

Stonemasonry work

Carving from a block

If I felt that I was busy, then apparently someone else can still surpass that : I was called by the restoration stonemasons if I could take on part of their work, because they were even more busy. Construction is going well in the Netherlands. Everywhere there's a lack of professionals and contractors don't know how to finish all that work. When it rains there, it will be dripping on me, too. A few years ago I sometimes had some months without work, but that time is long past. So now I'm doing a -for me- quite unusual job, the stone carving of a block that is: the lower part of a finial, including the profiles, trefoils, pointed arches and crockets. After that, the carving of the ornaments follows.

accurate measurements

I have of course been doing this once before. But that was almost 15 years ago, so I had to really think about how I should handle this. For there is indeed a real difference between stonemasonry work and sculptural work. Stonemasonry is everything you can mark on the block of stone from a template. It is tight, geometric work, for which you need to work very systematically to keep everything exactly perpendicular and crisp. Sculptural parts are more organic. This involves shapes, style, tension in the lines, elegance, and the like. These two complement each other; in Gothic architecture, the one can not exist without the other . In this block the ornaments would fall under sculptural work, and everything else is stonemasonry work. Soon more about this part of a finial.

carving ornaments

Dom Church, Utrecht

Finally, I, Stide and Serge climbed the Cathedral of Utrecht in connection with a quotation. Gorgeous, impressive place, as seen from above!

Dom Church in Utrecht from above

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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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…

The whole zoo in his boat (flying buttress figurine)

Coarse-grained zoo

A whole zoo in a boat. The old tuffstone flying buttress figurine

This week I had an Ark on my hands again. This is the last flying buttress figurine that was designed by Theo van Reijn and probably carved by Eduard van Kuilenburg, in 1953 or ’54. But it's weathered down very much. When it was in my yard, I had to take a good look. I knew it was supposed to be an ark, but I couldn't determine which animals were in it. I thought …Read the whole article…

A monkey in a wig (flying buttress figurine)

flying buttress figurine Monkey, Copying from tuffstone into Muschelkalk

copying the Monkey

The old Monkey from tuffstone

One of the nicest flying buttress figurines from the series 'Noah's Ark’ by Theo van Reijn was now ready to be copied: a Monkey. The creature has an endearing belly, skinny legs and a Big Smile on its snout. And a wig.

That my sawing machine after all of the welding- and tinkering can now cut so accurately is also clearly visible in the pre-cut block. It saves quite a bit …Read the whole article…

A Bear with a honeypot (flying buttress figurine)

The bear that didn't look like a bear

flying buttress statuette of bear with honeypot - old original tuff

flying buttress statuette bear with honey -new copy in muschelkalk limestone

And then the bear came with its long snout and blew out… no, he ate all the honey. This 'bear’ was the next flying buttress figurine for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem which was to be copied into new stone. Only you have to look very good …Read the whole article…

The Man calling Noah (flying buttress figurine)

copying flying buttress figurine The Noachroeper/ Man calling Noah from St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem

Copying The Noachroeper/Man Calling Noah

Noah-caller

old tuff flying buttress statuette of Man calling Noah from St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem.

The tuffstone original of the Man Calling Noah

The next flying buttress figurine for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem is one of the more famous ones: The Man calling Noah. It's a bald little guy bending over in a highly flexible position and shouting to someone down below. Maybe he shouts that Noah should get along with his boat because the waters are rising? In any case, the sculpture was made with a lot of humor and it is immediately clear what this guy is doing. He has long pants without belt, and is bare-chested. …Read the whole article…

A Desperate Monk, Reading (flying buttress figurine)

A Desperate Monk, Reading, Copying the statues

copying the Monk

Weather-beaten

The next flying buttress statue in the series for St. Eusebius's Church was a man in a monk's habit, reading a book and desperately grasping his forehead. The old tuffstone sculpture was pretty heavily weathered at the surface, but the stone underneath was still fairly sound. However, no warranty can be given that …Read the whole article…