Two griffins with a large shield

griffins with shield castle entrance plastiline maquetteThe next project has taken a very long time to get properly going. More than a year ago I received this request, and only now there is the peace and time to address this well. It is not a simple little project for doing between other things.

griffins with shield castle entrance plastiline maquette

Castle

Griffins with Shield ancient castle entrance

Old photograph of original griffin

This client is working on the restoration of an ancient castle. There were formerly two large griffins at the entrance, each bearing a large shield with the coat of arms of the Count and of his wife. The castle needs to be thoroughly restored, Moreover, its main entrance was so severely damaged that only a few pictures remain of how it used to be. The client asked me to reconstruct these two guardians, so he can restore the entire entryway to its former glory.

Not stone

griffins with broken legs and head

This clearly shows that the original was hollow

On a few old photos can be seen how the damaged griffins are missing legs and heads. Because of this, it's clear to see that the old statues were hollow, so they probably were casts. Given the age of the entrance, dating from around 1880, I expect it wasn't cast in concrete, and probably not ordinary ceramics either, because the material was quite thick. I'd sooner think of a material like Coade Stone or the like.

Coade stone is a composite of 10% grog, 5-10% crushed flint, 5-10% fine quartz sand, 10% ground glass and 60-70% ball clay from Dorset and Devon. This was then fired for 4 days at 1110 degrees Celsius.
Coade stone is very resistant to weathering and can, after casting in plaster molds, still be extensively reworked by hand before firing. There is also an interesting video about this material available on YouTube ↑, including the history of the remarkable woman who stood at the cradle of this material, and its rediscovery.

Commission

griffins with shield entry old castle

Close-up of original left shield

After much research of grainy old photos and making sketches I first made a little clay maquette in plastiline. Then I was about to magnify this in hard foam. From this, the customer would create rubber molds and then make two mirrored casts in, probably in some kind of artificial stone.

I'd been carving the foam models for some time when I found that my little clay model gave me too little reference. Because I need to make clear four separate front legs and two different shields, and that should all carefully fit together. That's why I retraced my steps and made a larger clay maquette in plastiline clay. The first model was about 30 cms tall, and in this one, just the griffin itself is 62 cms. Plastiline is a modeling clay that never hardens and never dries out. It allows me to continue to work and change things without worrying about cracks or fissures. Modeling wax would allow that as well, of course, but in that material detailing is much more difficult and the lighting is hopeless. There is also professional industrial modeling mass, but for the size I want to make, I would need to spend a few thousand euros on clay, so that's not an option.

What next??

Once this larger clay maquette is largely to my liking, I'll make the griffin body out of hard PIR foam with two hind legs and the head, two left front legs, two wings, two right front legs and a tail. There will also be a shieldin which will fit two different center pieces bearing the coats of arms in relief. Once these parts are cast, they need to fit exactly together and form two mirrored griffins. Altogether a challenging job!

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

Four grotesques in Amsterdam-1

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Reconstructing and copying

Four grotesques in Amsterdam, lion's head 1, weather-beatenFor a building in Amsterdam, I am currently carving four grotesques: ferocious sandstone heads. All four are severely damaged, which was the reason for choosing to replace them. …Read the whole article…

Ten tips-1: techniques

Tips for beginning sculptors in stone-1: technique

When I first wanted to learn to carve in stone I had trouble finding someone who could teach me this thoroughly. That was, of course, in the time before the internet, around 1990. Now, it's become a lot easier; just type in as a keyword that you want to sculpt in stone and you'll find loads of courses and holiday weeks . Unfortunately, not every teacher is equally aware of the technical aspects (there are still a lot of courses for rasping in soapstone) and neither does every aspiring sculptor have an appetite or time or money for a course. The following 'tips for beginning sculptors in stone’ should help you well on the way. …Read the whole article…

Two broken putti and a fallen Artemis

two broken ankles and putti of Artemis

the two broken putti and the ankles of Artemis

Last month I was offered an interesting challenge: two eighteenth-century putti made of Bentheimer sandstone and terracotta sculpture of Artemis. All three were seriously damaged and to me fell the task to restore them in all their splendour. …Read the whole article…

Two squirrels in red sandstone

Grove kleischets in Plastiline: two squirrels

crude, small sketch in plastiline clay

A close acquaintance of mine recently died after battling for 13 th anniversary this year. One of the last things he did was secretly save money, to be able to give a small sculpture to his wife for her birthday . …Read the whole article…

A brick layer in stone

stratenmaker hammerI started with the next assignment, a stone statue of (and for) a road worker. It's been a busy time, with carving the granite tomb I reported on earlier, the final work on the black granite panipitha and a set of finials and stone masonry in limestone. …Read the whole article…

Four pieces at a time….

the polishing work on the upper side of a panipitha in black graniet2 The polishing work on the upper side of a panipitha in black graniet1
cutting a block of granite Rosa Porinho with the angle grinder splitting a block of dolomite with wedges
Panipitha

This past week I spent time working on four different projects at once, all of a different nature. First of all, the work on the black, square panipeetha just goes on. I've already shaped the top side and started sculpting the last four sides with the Lotus Motif. …Read the whole article…

A visit to the goat

Last week I picked up a little project I started much earlier.

Pan, klei, met fluit, schets, granieten beeldOccasionally I participate in a tender, but usually the competition for that is quite fierce. That's what I found out a few years ago, when a school in Waalwijk asked for a design for a statue of the faun Pan, after a bronze statue of Pan in front of the school was stolen . I made a small scale model in plasticine, with the idea to carve it in granite. …Read the whole article…

A small relief in limestone

Four hands in limestone

For a client who wanted a sculpted relief I designed and carved a small sculpture with four hands at his request: a mother's hand and three baby hands. It is in memory of his mother, who liked to have this relief, because it represents the bond she has with het children. …Read the whole article…

Location, location, location

Jan van VelzenOne of the things I've always admired in the sculptures of my father is the spots he has chosen to put them. My dad is a sculptor from the village of Onderdijk, Jan van Velzen. With several of his sculptures he got the opportunity to personally pick their destined spot, something that is not always left to the artist. His first big sculpture was The Dijkwerker, a labourer building the Dutch dikes, …Read the whole article…