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. Here it was put in 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 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

A visit to the scaffolding of St. Eusebius's Church: Corbels and 14 flying buttress statuettes.

A visit to the scaffolding of St. Eusebius's Church

scaffolding visit Eusebius Church with flying buttress figurines

flying buttress no. 6

Last Thursday I visited the Eusebius Church in Arnhem. I had heard that two of the four flying buttresses were installed. For this church I had carved into new limestone 31 copies of the old flying buttress figurines and my colleague Stide also four. Stide has also replaced many larger and smaller corbels and is currently mainly engaged in carving stone masks. …Read the whole article…

The whole zoo in his boat (flying buttress figurine)

Coarse-grained zoo

A whole zoo in a boat. The old tuffstone flying buttress figurine

This week I had an Ark on my hands again. This is the last flying buttress figurine that was designed by Theo van Reijn and probably carved by Eduard van Kuilenburg, in 1953 or ’54. But it's weathered down very much. When it was in my yard, I had to take a good look. I knew it was supposed to be an ark, but I couldn't determine which animals were in it. I thought …Read the whole article…

A faun with loss of face, for a castle

Loss of face

repairs on a fractured sandstone faun

The broken pieces are glued back together and the first mortar is applied

(Bicentenary post on this blog!)

From the garden of Singraven Estate in Denekamp, the Netherlands I received a faun in my studio this week. It was a cheerful fellow with a flute on his belly. Only he had lost the face; apparently something had fallen on top of it, for the whole right side of his face was missing. What was left of it …Read the whole article…

A monkey in a wig (flying buttress figurine)

flying buttress figurine Monkey, Copying from tuffstone into Muschelkalk

copying the Monkey

The old Monkey from tuffstone

One of the nicest flying buttress figurines from the series 'Noah's Ark’ by Theo van Reijn was now ready to be copied: a Monkey. The creature has an endearing belly, skinny legs and a Big Smile on its snout. And a wig.

That my sawing machine after all of the welding- and tinkering can now cut so accurately is also clearly visible in the pre-cut block. It saves quite a bit …Read the whole article…

The Man calling Noah (flying buttress figurine)

copying flying buttress figurine The Noachroeper/ Man calling Noah from St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem

Copying The Noachroeper/Man Calling Noah

Noah-caller

old tuff flying buttress statuette of Man calling Noah from St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem.

The tuffstone original of the Man Calling Noah

The next flying buttress figurine for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem is one of the more famous ones: The Man calling Noah. It's a bald little guy bending over in a highly flexible position and shouting to someone down below. Maybe he shouts that Noah should get along with his boat because the waters are rising? In any case, the sculpture was made with a lot of humor and it is immediately clear what this guy is doing. He has long pants without belt, and is bare-chested. …Read the whole article…

A Desperate Monk, Reading (flying buttress figurine)

A Desperate Monk, Reading, Copying the statues

copying the Monk

Weather-beaten

The next flying buttress statue in the series for St. Eusebius's Church was a man in a monk's habit, reading a book and desperately grasping his forehead. The old tuffstone sculpture was pretty heavily weathered at the surface, but the stone underneath was still fairly sound. However, no warranty can be given that …Read the whole article…

A Long-legged Squirrel (flying buttress figurine)

beeldhouwerij van Velzen around Christmas 2017

My sculptor's workshop around Christmas

The first thing I often take on in these figurines is the profiled stonemasonry parts at the bottom

old tuff flying buttress figurine of a Squirrel

old Squirrel, tuff stone

The last flying buttress figurine from flying buttress no. 5 of St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem was this Squirrel. In these past few weeks I have presawn all the remaining blocks of stone for flying buttresses nos. 5 and 4 on my machine, so now I can start carving all the remaining figurines. …Read the whole article…

A Razorbill without a head (flying buttress figurine)

Presawing in the snow

Van Velzen sculptor overlooks snowy fields this winterThe next flying buttress figurine for St. Eusebius's Church in Arnhem is ready. I've been busy presawing all the blocks that I had lying around for flying buttress 4 and 5 (read here more), before maybe a real frost period got in the way. Because my saw sits outside, I cannot use it during frost, because then …Read the whole article…

The whole sculptor's workshop is a Nativity scene

My Christmas stable is ready. Happy Holidays, happy Christmas and make it a VERY Good New Year!Beeldhouwerij van Velzen looks like a nativity scene with many flying buttress figurines of people and animals

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