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.
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.
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.
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!