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. It is not enough for the whole Church to be restored, but we can go ahead a whole lot anyway. For me and my colleague Stide that means green light for carving another seven flying buttress statuettes.
I started with the first one of this series. This group of flying buttress no. 32 depicts seven trumpet angels. I don't know for sure, but I suspect this theme was derived from the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible , in which John the Evangelist describes an overwhelming vision he had. Among other things he describes seven angels with a trumpet, and every time one starts to sound the trumpet another incredible disaster starts to unfold over the Earth and its inhabitants. It didn't make me any happier, but if you desparately need to read it, you can do so here↑.
These seven little angels with their horns have been depicted on flying buttress number 32 together and were carved, around the years 1950-1960 from Ettringer tuff stone. They deteriorated so fast that these figurines were impregnated in the 90s using a special acrylic resin procedure, which should have kept them for eternity. Or at least a long way in that direction. But strangely enough the decay turned out to be going on after that time as well, and loose parts were falling down, after which it was decided to disassemble the statuettes as a precaution and store them. Even in their crates they kept falling apart. Which is why I was asked to copy them in German Muschelkalk limestone.
Various loose parts of the trumpet angels were already fixed with glue by the contractor. But each figurine missed some pieces and also the washed out soft parts or 'bims’ resulted in large gaps. Because I'm using my copying saw to speed up the process I need to first fill up the holes. In doing so, I noticed that the figurines won't absorb any water on their outside, but at their core, however, they do. That's why I suspect that the so-called 'Full Core Acrylic Resin Impregnation’ did not work as intended in this case, or on this material.
Cutting and copying
After repairs I cut a little angel out of a block of new Muschelkalk limestone, and then I started carving. As with the previous sculptures, it is intended that the coarse character of the reconstruction statuettes is reflected in the copy, with the chisel strokes and traces of tooth chisel.
By now I found out that the two girls that Stide and I carved last time refer to the Bible as well: they are a few of the five foolish and five wise maidens. Jesus liked to tell his teachings to the disciples in parables, and one day he told them about the coming of the Kingdom of the Heavens. 'If you wait for that and forget to maintain your energy levels, then you're not ready when the bridegroom comes', he told them. In his parabel he told them about ten waiting girls, and all ten were carrying a lamp, but only five of them had extra oil as well. You can read the whole story, including the (I think later added) catastrophic end of grinding teeth and wailing here↑ in Dutch.