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

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…

Noah fleeing the rising waters (flying buttress figurine)

Old tuff flying buttress figurine. Noah fleeing the water that is rising up around the arkIn the nearly endless series of flying buttress figurines for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem, I again arrived at carving one of the topmost pieces, on which always Noah's Ark is depicted. On this one, this time the ark is shown with swirling waves around it, and Noah climbed into the boat before everything …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…

Noah and his ark: from tuff to limestone

…to the first post about this project↑

Noah new in MuschelkalkAfter the previous series of flying buttress statues for the Eusebius Church in Arnhem (read here more) it has been quiet at my studio for a long time -with regards to the work on the Eusebius church at least. Funding had been allocated for its restoration, but before it's finally on the bank account of the church, apparently a lot of water first needs to pass under the bridge. But now that all suffering is over with, I can speed along with the work on a series of flying buttresses on the north side of the church. …Read the whole article…

Noah's Ark, up in the air

flying buttress figurines with theme Noah's Ark-1

flying buttress figurines with theme Noah's Ark-new blocks ofMuschelkalk limestone

new blocks of Muschelkalk limestone

Yesterday I received a new batch of stone again: seven new blocks of Muschelkalk limestone and seven old flying buttress figurines from St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands). This series has Noah's Ark as its theme. …Read the whole article…

Four grotesques in Amsterdam-1

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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…

A new belly for the plinth of Hercules (videos)

A sad history

For centuries the sandstone statue of Hercules stood on its stone base in the Estate Schaffelaar Barneveld. Until sometime in the seventies a group of young people entered the Schaffelaar Wood and smashed it to pieces. In grief, the statue was then buried in the garden. Around the turn of the century, the picture was dug up again and restored somewhat. On the pedestal, meanwhile, …Read the whole article…

Seven trumpet angels for Eusebius's Church in Arnhem

← Read here the first post about this restoration

Good news

Two weathered Tuff trumpet angels of Eusebius' Church in Arnhem

Two weathered Tuff Angels with trumpet

As you may perhaps remember… er was goed nieuws voor de St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem (the Netherlands). The Church was assigned by the Dutch National Service for Cultural Heritage 1,9 million euros for its restoration. …Read the whole article…