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Friday, 5 May 2017

A Bas-Relief of Saint Martin of Tours Carved in Wood | Bas-relief carving | The City of Zaltbommel | Bas-relief carving | Bas-Relief in wood

 Bas-Relief of Saint Martin of Tours Carved in Wood

A Bas-Relief of Saint Martin of Tours Carved in Wood
A low-relief or bas-relief is a sculpting method which is characterized by a rather shallow representation of the image. Usually the image or subject has been flattened substantially. As a result it only appears realistic when viewed from the front. The side view of a bas-relief renders a significantly distorted image.

First, a rough sketch is made. The origin or source of the drawing can be based on an original panel, provided that any inaccuracies or imperfections are modified. The design can also originate from a personal expression, while of course staying true to the original “spirit” of the design. The internet often serves as a great source of inspiration and guidance.

Upon refinement, the final drawing is copied onto tracing paper, which is then applied to the wood with thumbnails. By making use of carbon paper and a scriber the drawing is transferred to the wood. The image of the bas-relief is now present on the wooden panel.

Bas-relief carving | Bas-Relief in wood

The wood carver uses a router to remove any wood surrounding the image, thus creating a work plane or work field.

The actual wood carving can now begin. This phase is called “modelling”. Many years of training, diligence and fulltime experience are of vital importance to master this technique.
The importance of the routing work now becomes apparent. During the modelling phase the original drawing of the image gradually disappears. During this step the drawing or pattern is reapplied to the wooden panel by means of a scriber or marking tool.

Bas-relief carving | Bas-Relief in wood

The lines and markings left by the marking tool are now chiseled of. The contours or outline of the pattern slowly starts to appear. In this phase the chisels act as drawing instruments. It is important not to carve too deep, i.e. to the base (of the relief), so that it is always possible to make (minor) changes to the relief.
The panel is now finished and can be returned to the cabinet-maker (joiner), so it can be integrated into the wooden mantelpiece.

 Bas-Relief of Saint Martin of Tours Carved in Wood

Saint Martin of Tours – A Brief History

Saint Martin is a well-known saint. Many places and churches have been named in his honor. Maybe you know one or two? Martin (Latin: Martinus), meaning “little Mars” (The Roman God of war) was born in 316 AD. During that time emperor Constantine had just converted to Christianity. Christians were therefore no longer persecuted. Saint Martin is generally regarded as the first saint who did not die a martyr.
When Martin was 15 years old he joined the army. He became a Roman legionnaire. He had to because his father was a regular soldier in the Roman army too. At that time a son had to follow in his father’s footsteps. However, Martin turned out to be quite an exceptional legionnaire. He was different from the others. He was patient and modest, helped the sick, and gave everything he didn’t need to the poor and needy.
One day something truly remarkable happened. Something people still mention to this day. This story is recounted in old books about the life of Saint Martin. At the time these types of books were true bestsellers. They served as a source of inspiration for countless stories, songs and plays. It was winter and it was freezing cold. Many people had frozen to death, especially the poor.
Martin saw a beggar sitting at the city gate. The man was cold as he was only wearing thin, ragged clothes. Yet, everyone walked passed him, and offered only lame excuses. They did not have any money, their purse was tucked away too far beneath their clothes, or they were late for a meeting. It was bitterly cold and everyone was in a hurry to get home. Martin was on his way home as well, and he too did not have anything to offer, or did he?
He had no money. He did, however, carry his sword with him, and he was wearing a warm army overcoat. Suddenly, he did something unusual. He used his sword to cut his coat in two, upon which he gave one part to the beggar. He reckoned a coat this size could easily keep two people warm. He could have also simply given the whole coat. However, as these overcoats were very expensive, the army agreed to pay half of it. You can’t give away what is not yours to give! Saint Martin died in 398, not in his monastery (just outside of Tours, France), but in Candes, a small place in his bishopric. His grave is located in Tours.

A Bas-Relief of Saint Martin of Tours Carved in Wood
 Bas-relief carving

This small bas-relief was carved in mahogany wood. The relief has a depth of 8mm and the panel will be integrated into a wooden mantelpiece, alongside two other panels, that represent the coat of arms of the town of Zaltbommel (NL); an old version of 1816 and a more recent rendition from 2001. (The dimensions of this miniature carving are 12x8 cm)
The mantelpiece is made out of pitch pine. These heraldic panels will be tastefully integrated into this mantelpiece, after which it will painted in a light color (probably off-white). Only the center panel with the bas-relief of Saint Martin will retain its original mahogany wood color (apart from some furniture wax), making it a real eye-catcher!
The customer, a Zaltbommel resident (NL), choose this particular bas-relief because Saint Martin is the patron saint of the Zaltbommel basilica (Dutch: Grote of St. Maartenskerk). This large basilica, located in the center of Zaltbommel, has a three-aisled nave and a one-aisled choir. Construction started around 1450 and the building was completed in 1500.

The City of Zaltbommel coat of arms in wood

The City of Zaltbommel (NL) coat of arms in wood

This miniature low-relief panel clearly depicts Saint Martin of Tours, sword in hand, cutting of a piece of his coat to give to the beggar. (I couldn’t resist to attach a purse to his belt.)
I also carved the coat of arms of Zaltbommel on his shield.
(Dimensions: 15x15 cm; depth relief: 8mm)

Translation Koen Verhees


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Sunday, 2 April 2017

THE LIEGE STYLE WARDROBE | 18th Century Liège Style Furniture | Linen Closet - Liège Style Cloth Cabinet

Patrick Damiaens | Liège style furniture

 18th Century Liège Style Furniture 

The Liège style wardrobe or linen closet is a particularly popular type of period furniture. At the time, in the 18th century, they were in high demand due to their functionality and usability. As a result many of them were manufactured. Even though their quality is not always of a very high standard, you often run into these types of furniture at antique fairs and at local antique dealers.

Composition of the Closet
The general features of a Liège style wardrobe remained unchanged throughout the 18th century. Essentially, this type of linen closet is composed of three main compartments: the plinth or base, the midsection containing the doors and the pilaster, and, lastly, the top or “crown”. The construction is always solid, i.e. it is manufactured in high quality quarter-sawn oak wood, and all the different pieces of wood are held together by dovetail and mortise and tenon joints.

It is an “honest” piece of furniture, meaning that everything you see is real.
On average the Liège style wardrobe has a height of 2.3 meters. It is roughly 1.8 metres wide and has a depth of 0.7 metres. As mentioned earlier, they were in high demand, particularly appreciated for their practicality. An interesting feature, for instance, is the ability to dismount or dismantle the furniture into different modules. In other words, this linen closet can be easily taken apart if necessary. The separate modules or parts may be (re)assembled by making use of pins and pegs. Unfortunately, most of the time the original lay out of the wooden interior has disappeared.
Unique pieces of woodturning or nodes were attached to the upper cross beams at the back side and/or on the doors of the furniture piece, and were used to hang clothing on. Sometimes drawers were present at the bottom of the wardrobe.
The front side of this particular cloth cabinet seldom has a contoured profile (i.e. round, curved, bent, or hollowed). It is almost always flat or planar.


The Plinth or Base
The base of the cabinet may be styled in various different ways, with a cut-out plinth or with ball -or pear-shaped feet. In the 18th century the legs were often drenched in tar to avoid moisture from the floor from seeping into the cabinet. Typical for the Maastricht (NL) region was the so-called “claw” foot. Specifically, these furniture feet resemble a lion’s paw or the claw of a bird of prey (claw-and-ball foot). The furniture feet were always positioned in line with the posts and the pilaster, meaning that there were a total of three feet; two on each side and one in the middle.   

The Doors
The mullion or pilaster is located between the two doors and often houses the lock mechanism. Fixed pilasters are rarer than the ones that turn together with the right door. The lock is then located in the two door stiles. The most prevalent Liège style wardrobe generally consists of two or three doors, while types with four or five doors also exist, albeit in very small numbers.
The construction of the doors is captured in a traditional frame of rails, intermediate rails and stiles, finished with an elegantly profiled cornice. The most commonplace door composition is the one with two panels (proportion: 1/3 – 2/3). The doors are equipped with brass hinges. Original 18th century hinges were made of metal and covered with a thin layer of brass.
As indicated earlier, the front side of this cloth cabinet rarely has a contoured profile. It is almost always flat or planar. A rare but beautiful example of a Liège style wardrobe with a contoured profile can be found in the Cinquantenaire Museum (Dutch: Jubelpark Museum) in Brussels (B) (see photograph).


The Stiles
Almost all Liège style wardrobes have corner posts (stiles) which have been placed in a 45 degree angle. They often occur in planar (flat) or contoured (curved; i.e. convex) forms. Hollow (i.e. concave) corner posts or a combination of convex and concave posts also exist but are more infrequent. A nice example of this particular type of wardrobe can be found in the d’Ansembourg Museum in Liège.
Protruding corner posts truly give added value to the cornice, turning it into a real eye-catcher. However, most of the time the Liège style wardrobes are fitted with caved in or inward-facing corner stiles (see photograph).

The Top or Crown
The top or crown of a Liège style wardrobe is usually constructed in a horizontal fashion, although I am also familiar with a couple of masterpieces which have a curved crowns. The cornice is truly the eye-catcher of this cloth cabinet, with beneath it a frieze of approximately 12 cm in height, followed by an astragal moulding profile.
The frieze is abundantly decorated with style-specific ornaments. The cornice is often overhanging (i.e. it sticks out) and is nicely profiled, albeit less “dominant” than is the case with the Namur style wardrobe.
Sometimes the overhanging part of the cornice is cut out in a “Lambrequin” motif and adorned with style-specific ornaments. A nice example can be found in the d’Ansembourg Museum in Liège (see photograph).
The Liège style wardrobe exists in every Liège style period, always with its specific recognizable ornaments and compositions.

18th Century Liège Style Furniture 

Woodcarving and ornaments
The 18th century joiners or cabinet-makers operating in and around Liège successfully managed to skilfully integrate various decorations, compositions and ornaments, typical for of the French Louis XIV, Regency and Louis XV and XVI, into their own furniture. Fortunately, they did not attempt to compete with their French counterparts – for instance with the well-known and expensive cabinet-makers Boulle and Riesener – despite their extraordinary technical skills and competencies.

As previously mentioned, Liège style furniture is an “honest” type of furniture, meaning that everything you see is real. All the ornaments and embellishments are carved out of solid wood/mass, i.e. none of the wood carving has been glued or applied to the cabinet.

Translation KOEN VERHEES

18th Century Liège Style Furniture 


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Monday, 20 March 2017

TEFAF 2017 | The European Fine Art Fair Maastricht | Art & Antiques Fair | MECC

TEFAF 2017

TEFAF 2017 | The European Fine Art Fair Maastricht  
Art & Antiques Fair  at the MECC

TEFAF 2016 | Art & Antiques Fair Maastricht

Every spring for 25 years now, it’s been an annual tradition to visit TEFAF in Maastricht (Netherlands). I remember my very first time like it was yesterday. It was back in 1990, and it was a true feast for the eyes that managed to leave a lasting impression on me.
In this blog item, we pay a little visit to TEFAF 2016 in Maastricht (MECC). It’s safe to say that this annual event is something that people the world over are eager to visit.
This edition, I was in the company of several students Woodcarving. And what a pleasant and educational day it was!

Visit the TEFAF in Maastricht 

TEFAF 2017

TEFAF Maastricht is without a doubt the most prestigious art fair in Europe. This art and antiques fair is visited by art lovers from all over the world. During the fair, which is traditionally held at the MECC (Exhibition and Congress Centre) in Maastricht, a wide variety of art forms are presented and sold.
From 10 to 19 March 2017, the MECC in Maastricht is transformed into the world’s leading art fair, TEFAF. Because TEFAF is such a trend-setting event, it can count itself among the most renowned art fairs in the world. That is why the fair manages to attract tens of thousands of visitors from home and abroad each year.

The European Fine Art Fair Maastricht | TEFAF 2017

All relevant information on TEFAF Maastricht 2016 can be found in the short summary below. You will find information regarding the location, opening hours, entrance fees, accessibility, etc.
Since 1975, every year, Maastricht becomes home to the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF). As the name already suggests, this fair is all about art. During the fair, a clear distinction is made between the different art forms. Every art form is put on display in its own section, with 9 sections in total. All forms of art are featured at the fair, ranging from statues to paintings and so much more.
TEFAF is especially renowned for its amazing display of antique works of art and has managed to carve out a name for itself in the art world. TEFAF is spread out over a surface of 31.000 square meters, which harbours approximately 35.000 art pieces that are “up for grabs”.

Every year, the fair can count on nearly 100.000 enthusiastic visitors, of which nearly half come from abroad: a clear indication of its worldwide fame! The fair has a very exclusive character, which doesn’t allow just any art gallery or art merchant to put things on display. Only the most prominent galleries and merchants make an appearance at this event.

TEFAF 2017 | Galerie J.Kugel

TEFAF 2017

The fair is held at the MECC, which is short for Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre.
The entrance fee for TEFAF amounts to € 40 per person. If you would like a catalogue of the entire art exhibition, the price goes up to € 60 per person. For visitors who plan to visit TEFAF for several days, the season ticket might be a good option. For a total of € 100, this gives you unlimited access to the event for its entire duration.

The following is a short photo report on TEFAF 2017, with some of the lovely objects and art pieces, which I’ve managed to capture on film for you.

TEFAF 2017

Kollenburg antiquairs | TEFAF 2017

Carlton Hobbs LLC | Tefaf 2017

Mühlbauer Antiques | Tefaf 2017

Mühlbauer Antiques | Tefaf 2017

Carlton Hobbs Antiques

Peter Mühlbauer | TEFAF 2017

Röbbig München | Tefaf 2017

Röbbig München | Tefaf 2017

Alberto Di Castro Roma | Tefaf 2017