Finally another update!

Storm before the silence

After my last post on this blog, it has remained silent for far too long here. But not because I haven't done anything! On the contrary, it's been way too busy to report it all.

So I've been working on the carving of another coat-of-arms in Bentheimer sandstone. The design was almost the same as the previous, but this one would would be suspended from a wall. Therefore, it was carried out lighter, without an edge to the relief and with a thinner base of 3 cms thick.

Flying Buttress Figurines

After that, I went on with the next set of flying buttress figurines for St. Eusebius's Church. Last year I've carved 24 of these for 4 flying buttresses on the north side of the church, around the theme of Noah's Ark. This year the four flying buttresses on the south are up. No, three, because a flying buttres with 7 trumpet angels have in november 2016 already been copied by me. We started this time with a series which was originally designed and carved by George van der Wagt, around 1954.

The theme of this group is the beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. Van der Wagt has portrayed this by carving a group of lame, crippled, blind and stricken people into the tufa. But I honestly do not see the connection of this with the blessings of Jesus in the Bible. Van der Wagt felt that it should be strongly angled so as to get a clear silhouette from below. But after fifty years it has become very difficult to even see what it's supposed to be, even from up close. Of one of the sculptures, of a Woman with a Clubfoot, only one quarter was left. This one I needed to reconstruct before I could copy it.

A new team member

I was quite busy with the coat-of arms, the griffins and the flying buttress figurines, and much more would arrive later. It looked as if it would be to much to handle all by myself. My colleague Stide was doing sculpture parts for the tower of St. Eusebius's church, and my other colleague Serge was working on his own commissions, so I was looking for a solution. And that came in the person of Jelle. Jelle was trained as an artist and knows his way well around stone. Because there is always more to be learned in this trade, it's a beautiful combination: Jelle will help carving the sculptures and meanwhile will learn some tricks of the trade. For me it's also nice that this handicraft will not die out for the Netherlands after my generation of three colleagues has left. Below Jelle in action with the copying saw. This figurine will then be carved by himself.

We also did some sawing work on some flying buttress figurines and on 12 heads for the west facade of the tower , which are currently being carved by Stide.

Myself, carving a flying buttress image that was just presawn

Jelle and I together made these figurines taking each a turn. Work on the griffins is on hold now for a while, because the church has a completion date set: In March the four arches should be complete and the tower finished. In 2020 the other forty flying buttress figurines on the other side of the church will follow. Next, to taste the atmosphere and see what has already been created for this church, on a visit to the scaffolds of St. Eusebius's church.

Four flying buttresses on the north side

Stonemasonry work

Carving from a block

If I felt that I was busy, then apparently someone else can still surpass that : I was called by the restoration stonemasons if I could take on part of their work, because they were even more busy. Construction is going well in the Netherlands. Everywhere there's a lack of professionals and contractors don't know how to finish all that work. When it rains there, it will be dripping on me, too. A few years ago I sometimes had some months without work, but that time is long past. So now I'm doing a -for me- quite unusual job, the stone carving of a block that is: the lower part of a finial, including the profiles, trefoils, pointed arches and crockets. After that, the carving of the ornaments follows.

accurate measurements

I have of course been doing this once before. But that was almost 15 years ago, so I had to really think about how I should handle this. For there is indeed a real difference between stonemasonry work and sculptural work. Stonemasonry is everything you can mark on the block of stone from a template. It is tight, geometric work, for which you need to work very systematically to keep everything exactly perpendicular and crisp. Sculptural parts are more organic. This involves shapes, style, tension in the lines, elegance, and the like. These two complement each other; in Gothic architecture, the one can not exist without the other . In this block the ornaments would fall under sculptural work, and everything else is stonemasonry work. Soon more about this part of a finial.

carving ornaments

Dom Church, Utrecht

Finally, I, Stide and Serge climbed the Cathedral of Utrecht in connection with a quotation. Gorgeous, impressive place, as seen from above!

Dom Church in Utrecht from above

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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Second visit to the scaffoldings of St. Eusebius's Church

Scaffold Visit at St. Eusebius's Church according flying buttress figurinesI almost forgot, but just a few weeks ago I've been back to the Eusebius Church for a second visit to the scaffolds, to check out the second group of flying buttress figurines on site. The first half …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 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…

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…

An Owl that snapped (flying buttress figurine)

Copying the flying buttress figurine of the Owl

Material defects

This Owl, another flying buttress figurine carved for St. Eusebius' church in Arnhem, resisted the copying quite a bit. Not that it's such a difficult figurine, it is simple enough. But I was almost done and would only just carve the remaining profiles at the bottom, when I discovered that the dark line at the bottom became a crack, and that with each stroke it became a bit clearer. …Read the whole article…