Corbel for the Eusebius Tower: a bird-like beast?

Bird beast: a copy of a tufa stone corbel by John Grosman in new Muschelkalk limestone for the Eusebius Tower in Arnhem
One of the last of the 10 corbels for the South- and North side of the tower of the Eusebius Church at 23 meters high was this winged bird-like beast. It sits somewhat cramped in its corner and there spreads its claws and wings. This piece was originally carved in 1954 by John Grosman, who also adorned a pair of flying buttresses with statuettes. I already copied his seven trumpet angels of the Apocalypse earlier; read the report here↑.

Style characteristics

Grosman at the time quickly carved these figurines out of the original tuff, and the chisel strokes can still be recognized from up close. I have not changed their style. Stide and I both agreed: if you'd think it necessary to leave your mark on this work and go about changing things, then you'd violate their original intention, it would detract from the atmosphere of an era and you'll either end up with something completely different, or something that makes no sense at all, ending up being neither this nor that. So with great pleasure I copied this figure pretty closely. A while ago I was able to inspect the whole group on site at the tower and it became clear that these five by Grosman form a coherent ensemble, even though I have no idea of their meaning. Most of the five figurines have a rather triangular, flat face which was carved close to the original surface, and are portrayed with wings.

Legs and wings

This bird beast was slightly damaged. It missed a claw on its right leg and there was some surface damage. Although it still looks okay, it's being replaced now because of this Ettringer Tuff is already showing signs of decay, such as tiny cracks, which will in the coming decades inevitably lead to danger of falling parts. Also, the original is still clearly readable now, so it will be easy to copy faithfully. There are sculptures on the Eusebius Church that are already falling apart now and have some parts missing. This would therefore require that a reconstruction is made before a copy can be cut.

As I said, I copied this bird-like beast reasonably precise, except that I've carved the wings a bit thinner. Muschelkalk can be detailed a bit finer than tuff and is also stronger, so I can carve some things slightly slimmer than its original. In my opinion this doesn't detract from the original intention of the sculpture in any way.

Carving by pointing machine, or CNC milling…

presawing a flying buttress figurine on the copy saw

presawing a flying buttress figurine on the copy saw

There are of course methods to copy this sculpture much more precise. I could accurately copy it with a pointing machine to the millimeter and carve it into new stone. Or I could complete the bird beast with plastiline clay to a mint condition, then have it scanned with a 3D scanner, and then have it milled out of a new block of stone with a CNC five-axis milling machine. It may be clear that those methods, along with the advantage of accuracy, also have a number of disadvantages such as longer delivery time and a much higher price tag. A CNC milling will copy every little dent, so you'd need to prepare each model either to a mint condition or you'll need to keep a wide margin above the final processed surface. These are also costly machines, so this milling work does not come cheap. By the time the scan is processed and the robot and the stone are ready, I've already finished presawing. Besides, no further transport is required.

Therefore my copy saw turns out to be for the flying buttress figurines a perfect compromise: I can accurately and quickly remove a l arge amount of stone, and at low costs. Yet little preparation of the original is needed and I keep just about as much margin as I have set in advance. Unfortunately I can not make good use of this machine for the corbels because these figures are embedded into crisp masonry . I cannot risk damaging this with an overshot saw kerf. For the flying buttres figurines, this risk is practically non-existent, since they need to be cut all around. Hence I carved this bird-like beast and all his other brothers by hand and measured them with the aid of compasses and profile templates.

Two winged cubistic creatures: old tufa stone corbels from 1954 by John Grosman from the Eusebius Tower in Arnhem is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well:

Corbel: a cat with wings

copy of Corbel for Eusebius Tower: cat with wings to tufa original new muschelkalksteen
copy of Corbel for Eusebius Tower: cat with wings to tufa original new muschelkalksteenThis next corbel for the Eusebius Tower is destined for the north side at 22 meters height, and is part of a group chimeras or a kind of winged cats.
The cat with wings on this corbel is holding some kind of pot or bag, it is not clear what was intended. copy of Corbel for Eusebius Tower: cat with wings to tufa original new muschelkalksteenI made a purse out of it by carving a rope at the narrowest part. These five cats all have the same flat triangular face and the same bulky wings. copy of Corbel for Eusebius Tower: cat with wings to tufa original new muschelkalksteenWith a lively claw chisel stroke, just like the original had, I tried to maintain the smooth appearance of the original sculpture. This group of sculptures carved by John Grosman, also the seven trumpet angels I got hacked earlier progress.

Flying buttress

presawing a flying buttress figurine on the copy sawThe corbels for these two groups shooting already well on, So I immediately continued with foresaw a series flying buttress figurines Air bow 33, originally created by George van der Wagt. More on this later. is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well:

Corbel for the Eusebius Tower: 1 lady with two doves

Copy of Corbel in new Muschelkalksteen of 1 lady with two doves

Lady with two doves

As you can read in the most recent posts on this blog, these past few weeks I've been busy carving corbels for the Eusebius Tower. This tower of the Eusebius Church in Arnhem has been covered in scaffolds for several years already, mainly to replace large parts of Ettringer tuff from its outside walls with the more weather resistant Weiberner tuf. All of the sculptural parts are being replaced with Muschelkalk, a coarse German limestone with lots of pores. Because of its coarseness this type of stone matches well with the rough character of the original tuff, but it is however much more resistant to weathering. Over the years the soft brown parts will wash out, but the white parts will become ever lighter, and the inclusion of some dirt from the air will cause the sculpture stand out more clearly over time.

Two levels with architectural sculpture

There are large and small corbels on two levels of the tower: on scaffolding layer 20 (on 45 meters height) and on scaffolding layer 10 (on 23 meters height). At this latter level there are also many stone masks with grotesque heads . These masks have meanwhile already been copied by my colleague Stide. We both are now busy working on 10 South and 10 North, and the next one of those was this lady with two doves.


blocks for new corbels in the yard of the studio

New blocks of limestone for corbels

As you can see in the picture of the blocks above, the stone is delivered to me after it has already been worked on. The stonemasons have already carved the profiles, and the part that will sit inside the wall is roughened up, so that the mortar will properly adhere to it. A mere slick surface will not offer enough grip for the mortar to adhere onto. On the lower part of the corbel, another round profile can be seen. Strictly speaking, this would be stone masonry, but this time it was left to me. After I've carved that neatly to size, I can start carving the actual sculpture. Usually I start with a template profile of the head and trace that onto the stone. From there I can start measuring the remaining parts of the head and carve those into the new stone.

I usually measure a lot of this with compasses, but with blocks like these, the place of the main components can be found faster and easier with a transparent film. Parts such as the doves and the hands almost entirely fall within one convex surface. On this transparent film I can quickly trace the outlines with a marker pen and then transfer this back to the stone. To see how this works in practice, it is best to read the following blog post about this: ten tips 2: from design to stone.

Copy of Corbel in new Muschelkalksteen of 1 lady with two doves is the blog of Koen van Velzen, sculptor in stone and bronze. Look up my website as well:

Corbel: A man with bird

corbel Eusebius Man with bird1 The second corbel I carved for scaffolding layer no. 10 of the Eusebius Tower was a man with a bird. Like the original, this copy in Muschelkalk limestone is carved pretty rough, with the tooth chisel marks still clearly visible. This gives the surface of the stone a lively effect; chisel traces strengthen …Read the whole article…

Corbel for the Eusebius Tower: woman with tulips

Corbel of a Woman with tulips for the Eusebius Tower at 22 meters heightIt's a nice and busy time at the moment. We were not yet finished with a series of ornaments for the Utrecht Cathedral or a truckload of stone 18 limestone blocks for new flying buttress figurines and 10 large blocks for corbels. The flying buttress figurines are for the Eusebius Church in Arnhem, and the corbels will be placed at a height of 22 meters in the tower …Read the whole article…

Side crockets: Gothic ornaments for the Utrecht Cathedral

Reconstruction of gothic ornaments

weathered old crockets in Ettringer tuff at the cathedral in Utrecht

weathered old crocket in Ettringer tuffstone

The Cathedral in Utrecht is partly covered in scaffolding at the moment. Specifically a large part of its stonework is being overhauled, and part of this project are 16 large tuffstone crockets, or Gothic leaf shapes adorning the frames of the lancet windows. After several centuries of copying there was not much left of their original shape. That was reason enough …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 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…

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…

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


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…