A bluestone coat of arms with two falcons

Bluestone stone coat of arms

I merrily went on to the next commission, another stone coat of arms this time. The previous one was a smaller relief with only the shield. That required a little more attention to the shape of the shield, to make the design a bit more interesting. But this coat of arms is quite extensive in itself because of the helmet, the mantling and the crest. I prefer deeply carved coats of arms, and this is no exception: the total depth of the relief is eight centimeters.

The customer lives in Belgium and has renovated a house that already had a plaque of Belgian bluestone in its façade. Hence, this plaque will have the same size, 41 x 66 cms. It's obviously a fairly elongated size, whereas the actual coat of arms occupies a more or less square space. So this leaves some space for a Latin text underneath the emblem. I'll get to carve that next week.

The rough shape

family crest transferring the drawing on bluestoneI first started with transferring the drawing onto the stone. I never fuss about that: I just stick the print onto the stone and carve the lines into the stone, right through the paper. Hoopla.

From woodcarvers I learned to first jigsaw out the contours. That way, you'll have these parts defined already and you can continue to trust in them. Now doing that in stone, and certainly in Belgian bluestone or arduin as the Flemish say, is a bit harder to do, but it remains a good plan. Using the drill, I could define the shapes and also the depth of the background plane for a number of spots (quick and easy) in one go.

To keep margin for errors, or not?

bluestone coat of arms-drilling the contoursThe rough carving of a relief is quite a bit different than that of a freestanding sculpture. When carving a sculpture, it'll be useful to have some margins in case you'll make a mistake. That is, you'd make sure you don't make anything definitive yet during the rough carving phase, so for example you'll still be able to move the limbs a little in case it is not quite to your liking. In relief carving that would not be convenient. You'd keep searching over and over again where all these frills should go if you wouldn't set any hard borders. By carving the parts straight down at right angles to the background plane from the beginning, the exact location of each component remains defined right up to the end, even if you start shaping its height with a coarse tooth chisel. The margins that you always need as a sculptor lie in the depth in this case. For you could always encounter a bad piece of stone, or you could make a mistake. In relief carving, parts can often be placed a bit deeper without too much damage.

Assigning the volumes

bluestone family crest: defining the volumesI have previously written about it: the next step is determining the heights of the various parts. In this case the helmet will be the most protruding part. I wanted to keep the mantling at the left and right below the level of the helmet, the shield should be covered by the helmet and consequently end up lower as well, and the lowest point are the tips of the mantling and especially the crest.

I just make those decisions by eye. I picked up the grinder and quickly cut down the planes of the mantling to a lower level. Then I once again drew on the lines of the shield , took into account the depiction on the shield, and carved it into the right curve.

Luckily I had made just such a little helmet before, in dolomite stone, and that one was still on the wall. With that piece next to it, it was quite easy to shape the helmet.

Playing

family crest rough carvingOnce I had rough carved all of these parts to their proper height, the best part came. This is why I love carving coats of arms so much. I'm sorry for the customers, but I'm not really into heraldry all that much or coats of arms as such. To me, family sure is important, but I'm not so concerned with ancestors and descendants. Other than gratitude for what they have given and for what beautiful things they'll be going to bring after I'm gone, it actually doesn't go any deeper for me.

bluestone coat of arms detailingBut the cárving of these crest reliefs is what I love to do! And that is because of all the lines and movement in the design. The clear shapes of the helmet and shield, in contrast to the elegant curves of the mantling… for me it's a each time again a play with lines and volumes. That's why I never make a maquette of these things. I just start, and let the lines lead me to the shape. It should of course end up looking somewhat symmetrical, so I usually first carve one side and then do the same thing mirrored on the other side.

Halfway through: finishing

bluestone family crest: halfway carving process

Once all the shapes are just about right, the detailing and finishing of the stone coat of arms starts. That is usually what takes the most time. I tapered the shield a little bit to make it all a bit more playful, and also gave it a good bulge, in order to give it some tension. But everything needs to be crisp in the end, otherwise it will end up as a complete mess and not easy to read. So next week I'll still be working a long time making it all crisp and sharp, and with carving the letters. And the edge still needs to be carved straight. More on this later.

family crest stone halfway  carving process
-below is a time lapse in slides. Click on a photo for the gallery-
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

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 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.

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↑

Small coat-of-arms in Udelfanger sandstone

Small coat-of-arms in a baroque shape

For a customer I made a small coat-of-arms in Udelfanger sandstone. Since this time no mantling and helmet were added, I chose a somewhat more baroque shield shape to make it a lively relief. I also tried to give the shield a nice bulge, to create an interesting shape with curled edges as if it were a scroll.

Finishing

Because of the small size of the crest stone, it took a lot of care to get all the details clear cut. It is designed to stand out by strong shadows. This small stone crest will end up in the top of a facade, so the shadows will be important in order to recognize the picture. To enhance the contrast I therefore 'pointed' the background of the coat of arms, ie I've beaten small pits with hammer and point chisel in the background. The rough surface makes the smooth shield stand out well.

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 short radio interview on national Dutch radio2

Daniel Mayer [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

(Sorry folks, the interview was in Dutch) On Sunday 11 August 2019 I was interviewed for radio show Bureau Kijkindevegte in response to the following question from a listener: How would a sculptor correct mistakes made during carving in stone? A short interview about how to approach the carving of a stone sculpture. More about this question can be found in the following article: …'Never hit that nose off?'?..↑

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↑

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…

Thomas Aquinas (sandstone) for St. John's Cathedral

The statue of Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas: Here the statue is still in its niche of St John's Cathedral

St. John's cathedral

The major overhaul of St. John's Cathedral is steadily continuing. Each year or maybe every two years, I'm not quite sure, one bay of the church is restored: 1 buttress and 1 window facade. This year I already did some work on two finial bases, a …Read the whole article…

Stonemasonry work and ornaments for St. John's Cathedral

 

sandstone base block for finialJust like a few years ago, I'm working on some parts for St John's Cathedral in Den Bosch. At the time I carved, among other pieces, a canopy in my shop this year. This time I made a base block for a finial in the beginning. This is the lower part of …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…

Corbel: 1 lady with two doves

Copy of Corbel in new Muschelkalksteen of 1 lady with two doves

Lady with two doves

As you can read in the most recent posts on this blog, these past few weeks I've been busy carving corbels for the Eusebius Tower. This tower of the Eusebius Church in Arnhem has been covered in scaffolds for several years already, to …Read the whole article…