A small sandstone head for Eusebius

row of 9 heads in the Eusebius Church. In front is a head of a woman with hood
A small head in Udelfanger sandstone

I had a small job in December for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands) again. High in the upper side wall of the south transept are 9 small heads embedded inside the wall. Three of those are old heads, which were made in the Middle Ages, four are from the 50s of the twentieth century, and one head is missing. I was asked to carve a new head for the empty spot. The additions of the 50s clearly show the traces of that time, and that will probably be true for mine as well. It proved quite difficult to carve a primitive head and to restrain myself so that it won't end up all too detailed.

Taking turns

The heads in the church wall were placed alternately: every time a corbel from the last century is interspersed with a medieval one. The latter are the simplest ones, and also the example that I want to go back to. Unfortunately it is not all that easy, because there is a beautiful woman's head in red sandstone between the others. This lady has a beautiful elaborate hood. Fortunately, much reference material can be found in the book on St. Eusebius's Church. You won't find any new books anymore, but perhaps it can still be found online ↑. In this book, there are many images of the corbels with small heads, except for this series, regrettably. And I saw a few pictures of old sandstone corbels from the Arnhem Municipal Museum, which, like the red lady, were beautifully carved. But that wasn't the way I was headed.

Simple faces

medieval corbel with headThe other corbels have primitively carved eyes, simple faces and thick lips. I also found a photo inside the book of a corbel that was sent to an Australian chapel as a gift, which has a similar shape. So that's what I've looked for in this small head corbel. The little guy got a page haircut and thick lips, and big floppy ears. I made a rough and small maquette in clay and then carved it into Udelfanger sandstone. The stonemason had already done the profile work. A bit of a pity, for I would have held on to the rough shape of the old corbels. I've just tried if it was better if I scraped it all smooth, but then it all went a bit dead, So I left it with a chisel stroke. It is always difficult to work from photos, so I hope it fits well within the range.

 

 

new corbel with primitive little head

 

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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Presawing Pope Leo the Great

Pope Leo the Great upper body

Another saint's statue

stained glass window of Pope Gregory

Pope Gregory looked suspiciously like Pope Leo

stained glass window with inscription Gregor . Magn.

But the name of this pope is at the bottom of the window: Gregorius Magnificus

As you might remember I copied the statue of Thomas Aquinas for St. John's Cathedral earlier this year. That statue has now been installed and I could move right on to the next one: Pope Leo the Great. It's a one hundred year old statue of a bearded man with a tiara, a book and a Byzantine cross. At first I thought it represented Pope Gregory the Great in stone, because the stained glass window behind the statue shows a similar Pope: also with a book and a Byzantine cross and tiara, but without a beard and with a dove.

Attila the Hun

Cracks in the face of the statue of Pope Leo

weathering traces in the face

But it turned out that I was mistaken after all, partly because the console of this statue shows Attila the Hun crouching. In the year 452 the Hun Army was camped near Lake Garda, with plans to attack Rome, but Pope Leo visited him and talked it out of his head. Talk about power of persuasion. Pope Gregory only came a hundred years later.

Weathering process

robe of the statue of Pope Leo has weathered

disappeared folds in the garment

The two statues of Thomas Aquinas left in a crate headed for Den Bosch, where the new statue was placed on the church and the old statue was put in the museum. By return mail I received the old statue of Pope Leo back. On my scaffolding visit I noticed that the statue still had almost all its details, but the stone wasn't in a very good condition.

Just like Thomas, the statue was made of Udelfanger sandstone. The material has been applied vertically at the time, and that has had an impact on the weathering: vertical traces of watering and the disapperance of a number of folds of his garment. The statue also shows serious exfoliation on the back and if nothing happened now you'd have a chance that in a decade many details will be much stronger affected, which would make it very difficult to make a proper reconstruction of it.

Vertical layering

foot of the statue of Pope Leo the Great

crumbled pleats

As I explained in the first article about the statue of Thomas Aquinas it's not desirable to have the stone's layers run vertically through the statue. But it is not always possible to avoid that. In the quarry, the thickness of the right layer is not more than about 120 centimeters, and the statue is at least 150 cms tall. Over a hundred years ago they picked a horizontal piece of stone for that reason and put it straight up. This is known as standing layering. But this time I need to make a statue, in which the layers run horizontally. That can only happen if I make this statue out of two pieces. A body out of one piece, and a piece with the head and shoulders.

Presawing

presawing the new statue, step 2

presawing the lower part, step 2

I had already had some blocks of stone lying in the yard: a remaining piece of the Thomas torso and the second half of the block from which I've presawn Serge's angel. Those two pieces were not mine, but they belonged to St John's. After consultation it was decided that I could use these two blocks for this statue. I started reconstructing the missing parts with plastiline clay. Next up was the presawing of the lower body, in three steps from coarse to fine. This was followed by the same process for the upper body.

Next step

presawing head of the new statue, step 2

Presawing the shoulders and head, step 2

After this will come the rough carving of the two pieces, at the point where the seam should be. The plan is to follow the lower line of the cross on the chasuble of the pope. It will be a difficult job! I'll keep you informed of the continuation of this interesting challenge.

presawing the new statue, step 3

presawing lower body ready

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 out of limestone) 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 picked up the thread were …Read the whole article…

Small coat-of-arms in Udelfanger sandstone

Small coat-of-arms in a baroque shape

small coat of arms in Udelfanger sandstone completedFor 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 Shield …Read the whole article…

Finials for St. Eusebius's Church


We're currently carving parts of pinnacles by the cartload. They are all destined for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands). Below are some pictures of work I've made this far. In the picture above you can see a number of blocks ready for transport: successively, an old tuffstone block, a block of red sandstone from my hand, one by Stide and one by Jelle, and finally …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…

Ornaments for Utrecht's Domkerk and St John's Cathedral 2

Finial

As you may perhaps remember: I last year I carved ornaments a few times and even made some stonemasonry work for St. John's Cathedral in 's-Hertogenbosch.

The blog posts can be found under the following headings: Stonemasonry work and ornaments for St. John's Cathedral, Finally another update! and Ornamental work for the Utrecht Dom Church and St. John's.

I recently got a new batch of ornamental work in the yard again, including another identical finial block for the same buttress finial of St. John's Cathedral. The first block I carved in its entirety myself, including the stonemasonry parts. The second block was pre-processed by …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…

House Sign Blue Tram Street Haarlem finished!

to the first post about this House Sign↑

Gevelsteen Blue Tramstraat polychromedRómulo Döderlein Win painting the gable stone of the Blue Tram street

The House Sign in Udelfanger sandstone for the Blue Tram Street about which I reported on last time is finished. A little summary: the picture was designed and drawn by cartoonist Toon van Driel, after an initiative by the Foundation for House Signs Association Haerlem. It is one of a series of ten different House Signs by ten artists and ten sculptors. …Read the whole article…