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 virtually the same material as the more famous Belgian bluestone, but it is a bit more evenly toned (some would say more boring) and easier to work in: it is slightly less hard and there's less tool wear because it contains less silica.

Cutting work

old and new block of stone for Aachen Cathedral

old finial and new block of stone

rough block of stone for Aachen Cathedral

using the chainsaw can speed up the work

I got supplied with the old model and new blocks of Irish bluestone (Kilkenny limestone). The four crockets of the finial are not connected to each other in the middle. With an angle grinder, I can not cut all the way down to the shaft, but with a chainsaw it's no problem. This speeds up the carving significantly! Of course, a large stonesaw machine could also fix this, but I don't own one. For firmness I could even leave part of it still attached, so that the stone wouldn't break too easily.

Shaping the forms

precutting the finial for Aachen Cathedral

precutting and carving the rough shape. With the chainsaw I can cut right up to the shaft

Finials are essentially the same as crockets. A gothic pinnacle contains from bottom to top a few rows of leaf shaped ornaments (the crockets), which are usually crowned with more intricate leaf shapes which are opposed to each other in a cross shape (the finial).

These crockets and finials of Aachen Cathedral are likely postwar copies. They were certainly not carved all that exciting at the time. I have, without deviating much, applied slightly more tension in their shape. The overall shapes of the finial are all located within the same plane. That makes it easy to quickly precut these flowers in the beginning.

crockets of irish bluestone for the Aachen Cathedral

in the background the old crockets, the new in front

The simple water leaf crockets I carved a bit deeper, and made the outlines a bit more graceful and sharper (see below). In 1993 I first learned to carve crockets and finials, and in the past 25 years I've made a lot of these, but not often in bluestone before. Because Irish bluestone or Kilkenny limestone, is, as its Dutch name denotes, a relatively hard stone, it is natural that the shapes are kept so simple. But even the simplest of water leaf crockets has its own charm, and it is essential that its shape keeps the tension and that after generations of copies to copy we're not just left with a vague sort of shape. That still makes it somewhat interesting for me to carve: the search for a beautiful shape and its tension.

It is intended to replace many more pinnacles from Aachen Cathedral in the future.

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

Removing a pedestal with the concrete chainsaw

Last Wednesday I was at the gardens of Estate De Schaffelaar in Barneveld, the Netherlands. I had to remove a plinth of Belgian bluestone, that was anchored with four stainless steel pins of 2 centimetres thick to a concrete foundation. Of course the solution was the concrete chainsaw on 230 Volts (Cardi Coccodrillo 35 or Renova chainsaw). The base will in due course be reinstalled inside the main building itself, but more on that later. …Read the whole article…

Moses and Aaron-Veghel

Lambertus Veghel façade with statues of Moses and Aaron

Today I once again started on an interesting restoration job. I went to St. Lambert's church in Veghel to collect two statues: Moses and Aaron, carved in Udelfanger sandstone. The statues date back to about the construction time of the church, round 1860. …Read the whole article…

Disassembling tuffstone with a concrete chainsaw

Stide lifting a block that has been cut loose from the wall

Stide lifting a block that has been cut loose from the wall

← to the first post about this project

Today my colleague Stide and I were in Nijmegen again. We are presently replacing a number of ornaments on the South Portal of St. Stephen's Church all of them (20 trefoils, 7 consoles, 20 crockets and 3 capitals), and right now we're arriving at the removal of the last blocks. …Read the whole article…

Experiment with a Cut-n-break machine (video)

← To the first post about this project

k-3000-cut-n-break-18890cc4
I've arrived at the point where I can cut the openings between the ferns. It's just that some of the openings are so narrow that a normal angle grinder doesn't fit in between. Fortunately there are several solutions:

-an chain saw for stone and concrete (hydraulic, with a petrol engine, or on 230 volts)
-or an Husqvarna Cut-n-break saw. This one as well is available on petrol or electrical. …Read the whole article…