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 Church Council wanted to provide these ornaments a final resting place in their garden wall between Frans Loenenhofje and the Lutheran Church in Haarlem.

A stolen spoonbill, pelican and buddha head

-click on the photo for the article-

The seven facade reliefs were removed from the original garden wall and kept separate. But three of those reliefs, of a pelican, a spoonbill and a Buddha head, were stolen from the construction site. Fortunately, the pelican was found again three days later. Apparently there is a market for stolen ornaments.

Stylized

The carvings are quite stylized and I thought for a minute that they were made in the Art Deco-style. But Art Deco only started from the 1920s, so although around 1906 there was already a stylization going on, it was not yet Art Deco.

The emphasis must have been on their decorative function, because I can't imagine what relation a heron and a Buddha head should have to a Lutheran orphanage. Or an Old Men's Home, for that matter. As the article mentions they were carved around 1905 by sculptor Tjipke Visser from Bergen, North-Holland. He made seven of those, a Buddha head, a head of a native American woman, two feline heads, an ibex, and a pelican and spoonbill. The spoonbill and the pelican are placed on opposite sides of an existing memorial in the garden wall of the Lutheran Church. The other reliefs got a place further down the wall.

We currently have a lot of work in progress at the same time. I just couldn't get it all finished on time alone, so I was glad Jelle took on the carving of the head while I was busy making a blue statue from sodalite in the meantime. Some time later I had time to tackle the carving of the spoonbill. We both followed the same procedure, so my approach below was the same for Jelle's sandstone head. I had ordered two blocks of Bentheimer sandstone to the right size, so we could get started right away.

Modeling and copying

Two new reliefs ready on the pallet

I had thought about carving this spoonbill straight out of the block, but that is not the best way to address it if the customer wants an exact copy. I had received a lot of pictures of the old reliefs via email, along with a number of measurements that were carried out on the counterparts that were preserved. This proved essential in the reconstruction: from these measurements and the pictures I was able to model a similar looking spoonbill in clay. Fortunately, there were pictures from three sides, from when the bird was still in its last garden wall. Once the clay model was to my satisfaction, I could start carving a copy in stone. Small details like feathers in the wings I had left out for the time being.

I traced the contours of the spoonbill onto a piece of cardboard, so I could transfer them onto the stone. After I'd carved away the stone outside the contours, I could transcribe the other sizes quite simply with a compass. In such a case, I usually put the two pieces tightly together. That way, I can transfer most of the width measurements one by one, without adjusting my compass. I've once made a video and a blog post about that. Once most measurements were in place and the rough shapes were carved, only the finish carving of the spoonbill needed to be done. The method of working from a clay model first is called the Indirect Carving Method. Read more about this method in this blog post↑.

Slideshow

-Click on a picture for the enlarged view-

The facade reliefs can be seen in the garden of the Lutheran Church, Witte Herenstraat 22 in Haarlem.

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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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 it will be almost invisible. Reminder: in an earlier post I wrote that the old statue was made from a single piece of stone, in which the layers run vertically. Because it's more desirable that the layers run through the statue horizontally (in that case, there's less chance that an entire big slice comes falling down at once, after weathering) it will be different in this copy. But the quarry has no banks in which the stone is higher than 120 cms. Therefore, the head was to be made from a separate piece.

Because of the large color differences between separate blocks of Udelfanger sandstone I was sent a very large block from which I had to cut the two parts. From this I made the body and the head of Thomas.

Thomas Aquinas, part 2: sawing. Upper body presawed.

4. The upper body was cut from the second half

Thomas Aquinas, part 2: sawing. Rough carving the head and body

5. The head and the body are roughly carved

Fitting together of the two parts

Then, the two pre-sawn parts of the head and body had to be made to fit to each other snugly. That wasn't so easy, because the dividing line doesn't run straight. It follows the wavy line of the hood and needs to be higher at the right hand, because otherwise the joint seam would run through the knuckles. These inclined faces need to fit together well. For this, it should first be clear what will be located where, and for that I needed to rough carve the two parts for quite a ways. I carved the upper body and the lower body so that I could see where it all would be going, and I could see where the dividing line was to run. Then I could find the joint surfaces.

Thomas Aquinas, part 2: sawing. Making both planes fit

6. The joint surfaces are being made to fit

Thomas. Aquinas, part 2: sawing. The head and body are bonded.

7. the two parts are bonded together

Joint surface

Because I made this joint line visible on both pieces, I could demarcate the joint surface and carve away the excess stone. By keeping on fitting the pieces together and scribing the excess stone, I could ultimately achieve a tight seam. When the fit was tight enough, I scribed off where I wanted to put the stainless steel pins and drilled four holes. Two holes in each piece, so I could adhere both parts with strong epoxy glue and two thick threaded rods. Also, the joint plane itself was bonded with a suitable breathable mortar. You should actually never make a horizontally extending closed off gluing surface on a statue sitting outside. The stone above such a dense glue layer can't lose its moisture and will start to rot right above the glue seam.

Serge's angel

Copying an angel for St. John's Cathedral

The other block was halved as well. From the one half this angel was presawn for Serge

My colleague Serge had an commission in Udelfanger sandstone as well for St. John's Cathedral in Den Bosch. He was asked to copy this angel. He had previously made one and asked me if I wanted to saw this one as well. So, here goes.

Read more soon about the continuation of this project.

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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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…

Crockets and finials for Aachen Cathedral

Two new finials for the Aachen Cathedral in Irish bluestone

For Aachen Cathedral some pinnacles had to be replaced. The old ones were worn and had cracked because of rusting iron and because the layering of the stone was not properly applied. The deposition direction of the stone should preferably be processed horizontal, otherwise there is a risk that a long vertical slice breaks off. In this case, they applied it vertically.

The material for these pinnacles is Irish bluestone. It is …Read the whole article…

Pan in porphyry 2: starting with rough carving (video)

Pan in porphyry. The precutand not yet carved piece of stone It is very busy at present, and then it sometimes happens that there is a hitch. After first having a deep cut on my thumb keep me two weeks at home, I am now at home with an tennis elbow that keeps me lying low for a while. Not because of all the sculpting however, neither of those. But that gave me the opportunity to make the video below about the first caving of the sculpture of Pan in porphyry.

Pan will have to wait a little longer anyway, for a coat of arms and seven pinnacles and finials in Irish bluestone for Aachen Cathedral wil have to go first… more on that later.

Beeldhouwerijblog.nl is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well: beeldhouwerijvanvelzen.nl

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…