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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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

Video: a coat of arms with deep relief

Finally, the video of the family crest with deep relief that I carved last winter into sandstone is now online.

Find it below! Read about this project here: A sandstone coat of arms with deep relief.

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

A sandstone coat of arms with deep relief

sandstone coat of arms by sculptor Koen van Velzen

Stone crest

A Bentheimer sandstone coat of arms. Dimensions of the relief 40 x 50 x 18 cms, of which the relief part is carved 10 cms deep. Clearly can be seen that this stone is a natural product, as evidenced by the light brown traces of an iron deposit. This does otherwise not harm the preservation of the stone. This coats of arms relief stone is placed on the inside of a solid garden wall with cappings. …Read the whole article…

A coat-of-arms in sandstone

A coat of arms stone with family crest in Bentheimer sandstone. The weapon contains three rings, a bar and a three-flowered thistle

For a client I carved a coat-of-arms from a piece of Bentheimer sandstone of 40 x 50 x 12 cms. The weapon contains three rings, a bar and a three-flowered thistle. In the picture, it seems as if the shield is slightly larger than the underlying stone, but that is a slight camera distortion; they both are exactly the same size. …Read the whole article…

Coat of arms in stone completed

family crest stone in stone completed, coat of arms carved in Belgian bluestone, arduin, petit granit-to the first post about this project-

These past few weeks I carved a family coat of arms in stone for a customer.
It was a top quality piece of stone, as I found out soon enough: I never encountered such a rock hard piece of Belgian blue stone (arduin) in my previous works. This piece therefore more than deserved its name of ‘petit granit‘ by right then. It tested my skills to the limit, I have to say, and also my chisels; frequently the tungsten carbide chisel chipped at its cutting edge. …Read the whole article…

A coat of arms in Belgian bluestone

coat of arms in bluestone: 1st step, carving the contours.

step 1: contours

coat of arms in bluestone: 2-precarving the helm

step 2: precarving helmet and shield

coat of arms in bluestone: 3-precarving mantling

Step 3: the identifying depths for the mantling

Besides all the work for the exhibition I've also been busy carving more ornaments on pinnacles for Cunera's tower in Rhenen, flying buttress figurines, the restoration of a war memorial, and a coat of arms in Belgian bluestone. …Read the whole article…

Timelapse of a family crest-2

For an overview of the process I've put all the photos of the workon the family crest of Duitgenius in a row, as a sort of timelapse. It is carved in limestone and about 80 x 80 cms tall. Read about the whole process here. …Read the whole article…

Crest of Duitgenius installed

family weapon placed 4-weapon stone

family coat of arms mounted -2- coat of arms

The limestone, polychromated relief with the coat-of arms of the Duitgenius family was installed saterday March 1 March 2014 on the front wall of the house. Luckily it was dry, and though a little bit more sun would have been nice, everything went smoothly during the mounting. The coat of arms is suspended from four stainless steel pins in the wall. …Read the whole article…