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Here you can read all about the Flowerparade of 2019. New columns appear on top of this page.
Foto’s in portfolio – Photographs in portfolio.
In the night from Saturday september 7th on Sunday september 8th, I went home around 00.45 a.m. to catch some sleep. My alarmclock was set on 05.00 a.m. Still a lot of volunteers were working on the float. Nailing and gluing the last dahlias, removing the scaffolding bit by bit and cleaning all the junk. In the meantime the ladies from the catering handed out drinks and snacks. Alcohol is only being served after the float has finished, which was around 03.30 a.m. Given the fact that the float goes outside around 06.00 a.m. the die-hard volunteers of group Teeuws just stayed at the building site.
It was a strange feeling when I left home on 05.45 a.m. I noticed only one car, from a distance on the mainroad. I rode my bicycle through a completely silent and foggy landscape, like a movie set looking for survivors! When I arrived at the farm of Ingo and Leny everything was still dark. The only light came from the building shed, because both enormous doors were already opened. This had an extra mysterious effect on the giant float Black Magic! When the engine was started, even I got excited. Slowly Black Magic left her safe place in the shed. Through a walkie-talkie Sander got instructions how to steer the float. Without any trouble Black Magic was parked somewhat before 07.00 a.m. in front of the farm. A couple of minutes later music was coming from the six speakers, everybody in Lievelde knew: Teeuws is ready for the Flowerparade! After the big float of Black Magic, also the two smaller floats had to be pushed outside. After attaching the voodoo-doll each float was secured behind a tractor. When I walked back to the shed, and found it completely emptied and abandoned it was such a strange feeling! A flashback of the last months passed me by… All those hours of handcraft, the sound of machines, people talking, laughing and shouting and the intense activity of the last few days.
After a little breakfast we left the farm around 08.15 a.m. and set course to the jury-field. All the parade groups have to be there before 10.30, otherwise they miss the first 500 points. It was a long procession! André drove first in line with a pushdozer and some concrete plates, followed by William with a cherry picker and flashing light. Bas and Robin drove before Black Magic with the walkie talkies to guide Sander who drove the float. All the parade groups have to point out two traffic wardens. Stefan and Robert were responsible for group Teeuws, they cycled along, I kept them tailed! Behind the big float, Marcel and Ingo each drove a tractor with the small floats. Along the way more and more floats joined the parade. The concrete plates are necessary at one specific crossroad. The speed bumps there are already difficult with a light vehicle, no way a large and heavy float can pass them! Also more and more bicycles joined the rest, everywhere I looked I saw curious people behind the windows of their home. Except for one car that was parked on the route, everything went successfully. Just like all other parade groups, Teeuws arrived on time at the jury-field around 09.30 a.m. Within minutes designer Paul was in front of a tv-camera for the first interview! All groups have to leave the field at 10.30 a.m., so the jury can have a close look on all floats and make their first notes. Most of the Teeuws builders went home for a shower and to change clothes. In the meanwhile, in the nearby sports hall, the ladies started with dressing up and face-painting the marching band from Bredevoort, so I went over there.
In the days before the Flowerparade, Christa already made an schedule which actor gets make-up on what time and which costume goes with who. All the costumes and accessories were packed in separate boxes, each costume individually wrapped in plastic with names on it. The black handmade costumes looked beautiful with the yellow ochre grime on face, arms and legs. Nicole measured and tied up all shoes individually. They are also handmade from pieces of black leather. The ladies of the catering group already arrived in the sports hall and took care of coffee and sandwiches. Last but not least Paul was dressed up and grimed, he was going to be the magical medicine man that day. Three hours later, at 13.00 p.m., everybody was ready for the parade and we went back to the jury-field, 15 minutes before the deadline. Everybody was getting a little nervous by now, especially because Black Magic was the first float in line! The marching band could get on top of the float by a small ladder inside the float. Anne and Jikke came on top of the giant moving hands, they were escorted to their place by the cherry picker just like Paul who was placed on top of the float. After fastening everybody with safety-belts Black Magic was ready for take-off.
The show finally started at 13.30 p.m. The procession went slowly through the streets of Lichtenvoorde. I chose to walk along with Black Magic. Not just for the photographs, also to experience how this is for a parade group. It was demanding everybody’s fully attention to make sure that all three floats of Teeuws ride as straight as possible and also in the right pace. I hardly noticed the enormous crowds of people along the way through the village! Every year between 30.000 – 40.000 people visit the Flowerparade of Lichtenvoorde. Just a little after the town hall it started to rain heavily, within minutes we were all pretty soaked! Luckily the rain was gone as quick as it came, a little later the sun broke through and warmed us all. When we passed a large glass building, Robin noticed me of the reflection in the windows, which was great for a photograph. Somewhat later we passed the beautiful green park of Lichtenvoorde, also a very cool place to photograph the floats. One foot at a time the whole parade set course back to the jury-field. The giant ornament on Paul’s head, had hit some trees during the ride so it was skew. He had to held it with one hand the rest of the route! Because he was high upon the float, we couldn’t fix it for him. Without any trouble Black Magic brought us all back to the start location where the ladies were waiting for us with drinks and snacks. Also here Teeuws has the same rule: alcohol only after. That cold beer was awesome! Back at the sports hall all supporting actors could take a shower and change back in normal clothing. After some small talk everybody went their own way, to the fun fair or going home (like I did). I was so excited to see my photographs! Once I was settled on the couch with the laptop on my lap, the exhaustion took over. At 20.30 p.m. I went upstairs and crawled into bed. Monday morning is the traditional prize giving , always in the same restaurant in Lichtenvoorde. Starting-time: 07.00 a.m. After that is ladies day on the float!
To be continued.
Crate after crate 05-09-2019
The last few weeks crates full of dahlias are picked and transported, I’ve wrote a bit about this in the column ‘Transport’. After the first days of gathering the plants could recover. One week later there were enough flowers again for the next transports. Group Teeuws is one of the suppliers of dahlias for other Flowerparades and other festivals (see column Black Dahlia). After the first few days of picking, Robert took me with him to the central drop-off point of the Flowerparade commission in Lichtenvoorde. There I could see for myself how the logistics of the transport works.
The most important task of the flowerparade commission is the purchasing, sales and supplies of dahlias. Around 2.4 million dahlias are sold by the commission to extern flowerparades and festivals. Teeuws is one of the largest dahlia seller in Lichtenvoorde. The prize of one dahlia is determined at the beginning of the corso-season, just like the dates of picking them. This way all groups know when to deliver their dahlias and for which buyer. On the website of the flowerparade commission Robert can look up how many dahlias are planted (also which type), not only in Lichtenvoorde but in whole of The Netherlands. All the groups can also look up which other group planted the same sorts of dahlias. In fact it is like a barter system. The flowerparade of Lichtenvoorde also buys flowers elsewhere for the parade in September, around 2 million.
Because of some blazing-hot months without any rain, there were a less dahlias this year. The growth of the plant is stalling, the flower-buds get burned. All groups will have less earnings because of this, on the other hand they are making extra costs sprinkling the fields. Thursday August 22 there was a picking for the flowerparade of Vollenhove in the morning. The groups could deliver their crates with dahlias in the evening on the industrial estate of Lichtenvoorde. They were gathered in one of the large industrial buildings where they are stacked on wooden pallets, of course all sorted out. The flowerparade commission keeps track of the total amounts of crates that every group delivers. Because of their many years of experience they know pretty precise how many dahlias of each type will fit in one cradle. They order all groups to fill the crates just a little above the handgrips. Two members of the commission will visit all the dahlia fields on every delivery date to make a prognosis about the amount of flowers in the field.
On another section of the industrial estate Teeuws could collect the returned empty crates. The villages that buy dahlias from Lichtenvoorde are responsible for the return of the crates. Quite a job, because all crates are mixed up! Teeuws owns all number 28 crates, seek and ye shall find! The crates that were transported to Vollenhove, are not returned before the Flowerparade of Lichtenvoorde. Therefore it’s important that all groups have enough crates to transport the dahlias. Since the beginning of this year all groups own the same durable black crates, each group with their own personal number.
That same Thursday August 22 when Teeuws was picking dahlias for Vollenhove I was interviewed by a local newspaper. They made some nice photographs of me with the activity on the field behind me. The article was great, and brought me lots of nice comments. I was on holiday in Switzerland when the newspaper was spread, so at first I could only see the online version. The paper edition was patiently waiting for me in Lichtenvoorde, just like a special flowerparade magazine that contained an article I wrote about the main-, and mediasponsor. When I planned my holidays, I kept the building schedule for the float in mind. I wanted to be back home in the week before the flowerparade. Even though Switzerland was absolutely great again, every now and then I thought about Black Magic. How I would have liked to be present when the float got her first mechanical tests! This is done outside the shed, so all the scaffolding has to be removed. After a successful test Back Magic was brought back inside again and new (more solid) scaffolding was put up. During the last few weeks the group of Teeuws thanked all of his sponsors on Facebook, everyday another company was in the spotlight. On the Facebooksite of Flowerparade Lichtenvoorde one by one all participating marching bands were introduced.
And now? Well, D-Day is coming closer and closer! Everybody is getting more and more excited, there is a strict schedule until the parade. In a location near the church I’m going to expose my photographs during the entire month of September. In the beginning there will be nine framed and enlarged photo’s, after the flowerparade there will be 13 photographs in total and an album with a complete review of the project ‘From Design till D-day.
To be continued.
The first dahlias are picked! From the end of June until the end of October the flowers will blossom. The best time to pick the flowers is early in the morning (or late in the evening), when they are in the best possible condition. It’s important to pick as many flowers as you can from the dahlia plant. Only then it will form new shoots. If you wouldn’t pick the flowers, the dahlia plant will stop blooming. The first flowers were put on a transport on Monday the 12th of August, destination Varsseveld (neighbour village of Lichtenvoorde). Two days later, on Wednesday, flowers were picked for the flowerparade of St. Jansklooster and Leersum. The last crates with dahlias this week were picked for the fair in the nearby city of Groenlo, which made the total amount of crates 114.
With the sale of dahlias, group Teeuws will earn some extra money to spend on their own float. This year the Flowerparade of Vollenhove is one week earlier than normally (always the last Saturday of August). The committees decided to do this so not all the larger flowerparades will take place in the same weekend. This is better for the visitors and parade groups can help each other with the supply of dahlias if necessary. Besides that members of the jury often come from external flower parade teams in the Netherlands. The flowerparade of Winterswijk and Beltrum, both in The Achterhoek, are on August 31, and the 1st of September. The largest flowerparade of the Netherlands, even worldwide, is the one in Zundert (also on September 1st). Then on the second Sunday of September, last but not least, Lichtenvoorde will show their floats in the flowerparade. Also Valkenswaard will have a flowerparade on that day.
Once in a while the dahlias will even bring in some cash àfter the flowerparade! In 1996 the group of Teeuws build a float called ‘Final Sprint’, a scenery with eight giant racing cyclists. An artist from Enschede showed interest in the squad, he wanted to use them for a rascally stunt. Both the cities of Hengelo and Enschede claimed back then to have the most vibrant city centre, although statistics showed that Enschede was doing better business. The artist wanted to put up the cyclists along the road from Hengelo to Enschede with some signs saying: for the best buys you have to go to Enschede! So the squad was sold to the artist. Pretty soon the artist discovered that he has miscalculated the size of the dahlia sportsmen. The wheels of the racing bikes had a diameter of two meters, far too big for the car trailer he brought! The cyclists were cut off from their racing bike, and the bike itself was also cut in half. This wasn’t very advancing for the stability of the figures, besides that the trailer was still too small to transport all cyclists. That’s why the artist returned with a container truck to pick up the rest of the squad. Now there was only one more barrier to pass… The overpass a few kilometres from Lichtenvoorde! The container truck with the racing men was too high for this viaduct. The group of Teeuws came up with a solution. They drove ahead to the overpass and waited for the truck driver to arrive. Right before the viaduct, the driver lowered the container on the road while some members of Teeuws stopped all traffic on the highway. The truck driver dragged the container slowly over the asphalt until he passed the overpass, in the meantime a massive traffic jam developed behind him! The container was lifted back on the truck and from there the squad could continue their transport without further obstacles.
Next week Teeuws will pick more flowers, again for other flowerparades. The weather forecast is pretty good luckily. The second ‘Sticky-Sunday’ will be coming Sunday (August 18). That’s why this week the builders also worked during daytime on the float, so most of the iron frame will be wrapped with cardboard. The paper will be glued upon the cardboard, and after that it has to be painted. The first mechanical test also comes closer. All temporarily scaffoldings and gangplanks will be removed and after the test (outside the barn) another more solid scaffolding around the float. Especially during the days when the dahlias will be glued upon the float, there will be a lot of people walking on the scaffolding, so it has to be absolutely safe. In the meanwhile Teeuws also presented their new parade T-shirt. The V-neck shirt, ochre yellow, was also designed by Paul Wieggers. He used one of his first sketches he made for Black Magic. After this sketch he made a fist scale model with a real Heron skull. The photograph I made of this model was enlarged for my first exposition. How great is that to have a matching T-shirt!
The committee of the Flowerparade Lichtenvoorde asked me if I wanted to write an article for the Corso Magazine about the media sponsor of the flowerparade: Achterhoek News. To collect as many information possible I interviewed the sales manager of Achterhoek News and also a former chairman of the flowerparade committee. During the ten years he was a chairman a lot of changes were made, some of them coming with beautiful anecdotes! He told me that even back then they were making progress to maintain the flowerparade for the future. Making a healthy financial support was a must. One of the ways to receive this goal was asking entrance fee from visitors from outside Lichtenvoorde. So in 1994 they blocked all roads into Lichtenvoorde and visitors have to pay a small amount to get into town to watch the Flowerparade. This didn’t happen without a shrug! All of a sudden a lot of people had to go to a birthday party in Lichtenvoorde?! A single one even claimed he had to visit the hospital in Lichtenvoorde, apparently not aware of the fact that it was closed years before!
To be continued.
Bring it on! 07-08-2019
The summer stop at group Teeuws is over, time to go full speed ahead! Because the flowerparade is only five weeks from now. That’s why the opening times of the building shed are extended for the second time this season. On Saturday the builders are working a whole day now instead of half the day. During the summer break, nobody worked on the float. On the dahlia field however, the volunteers worked daily. Many hands are needed here, for weeding and raking for example. Because of intensive sprinkling, the dahlias are growing good. The weather in this part of the Netherlands is still bone-dry.
In the nursery home where I work (closed section), the Flowerparade of Lichtenvoorde is still in the heart of many. As soon as I start telling about the float we are working on, they come up with stories about parades from the past. That’s why I came up with the idea to make a little excursion with some clients to the building location of group Teeuws. So Monday evening, August 5, we went over there with two men and three women who live in the nursery home. On a side part of the shed the ladies were working on the clothing and jewellery for the supporting actors. That’s where we made the first stop. Not only interesting for the female clients, because one of the two man recognized somebody he knew from the past. Within a fraction of time they were busy talking about the volleyball club. Through the backside of the farm we were able to enter the workplace safely. Although this group was able to walk around without a rollator, we looked for a save spot to observe the float in progress. They were all very impressed by the size of the float and the many workers on the floor and high upon the scaffolding. One of the female clients was absolutely fascinated by Estelle (young woman) who is always busy welding. In the canteen we took a look at all the shiny silver trophies from the past and the scale model of the float. One of the builders showed all the moving parts and explained to them how this is a good example for the real size one.
On the workplace it’s of course a cacophony of sound on a loud volume, that’s why we found ourselves a nice quiet spot on the farmyard to have a cup of coffee together. The builders mostly stay in the shed or the canteen during the coffee break. Sitting in the shade of a beautiful tree, on a round stone table, one of the builders joined us to tell the clients some more about the float and the dahlias. They all listened very carefully! In the meanwhile one of the two men again saw someone he knew from the past. This volunteer of group Teeuws used to come around his farm in the past to make sketches of new born cows for the register. One of the female clients remembered where the Harbers family lived in the past and that they started building floats over there. The other women told me they can’t wait to see the float all finished during the parade. Enjoying our coffee and the cake we brought, in the meanwhile watching the sunset, we all agreed: this excursion was awesome! After we brought the clients back home, I went back to the shed to make some more photographs.
I was curious if Martin had already solved the ‘candle-puzzle’. The decoration on the float has over ten candles. On Instagram I posted a set of photographs showing how the candles were made out of foam. The flames can move up-, and downwards. During the parade they have to ignite and extinguish all at the same time. Using alternative materials of course, using real fire is not allowed. The operation is placed in the middle of the chassis, this has to be controlled by hand so a person sitting underneath the model will be responsible for this. All flames are controlled by a wire running through a smooth flexible pvc tube. The candles are placed on different spots on the model (some of them meters from the operation). Because of that all the wires are of a different length. The bundle of wires that comes together in the middle of the chassis, reminds me of Pull The String on a carnival! Also there it’s a surprise what comes upwards. After we’ve determined which wire belongs to which flame, we gave them a corresponding number. After that each wire had to be attached (at the correct length!) to a round barrel, made out of wooden slats. The barrel has a lever, when this is pulled all the flames will move downwards. Really admiring to see how all this is figured out. It seems so easy, but a lot of thinking and measuring took place behind the scenes! However, another piece of the complete puzzle falls on his place. The Flowerparade comes closer and closer, bring it on!
To be continued.
Pole Position 18-07-2019
The building summer-stop at Teeuws has started. The shed is all cleaned up and the big barn-doors are closed. The casting work continues at home, there still is a long checklist that has to be finished within eight weeks from now! The casting figures of Teeuws will participate in the final parade with impressive masks, native clothing and mysterious accessories. It’s great to see how the women think this all out and use all kinds of materials to make everything by hand. Nothing is bought already finished. All that brainstorming and trying out the first prototypes comes with a lot of laughter of course. And isn’t that the first priority inside a parade group? To have fun together and building their float together, so that in the end on the 8th of September all those parade groups will present a spectacular flowerparade to the audience. This year for the ninetieth time!
The presentation of the scale models was again a great success. The line-up of the parade is definite. Like all experiences in life, also here everybody has a mind of his own about the best place in the parade. In the past it was a tradition that the winning floats from the year before were allowed to walk up front. After a few years it was clear that the line-up was pretty much the same, the biggest parade groups always first. That’s why they made some new agreements. Every parade group can ask for a favourite start position in the flowerparade. First one in line is now always the Saint Swibertus marching band from Lichtenvoorde, directly followed by the Corso Kids with their small floats.
The Saturday morning before the presentation of the scale models, all designers will have exact ten minutes to illustrate their model to the committee of the Flower Parade Lichtenvoorde. The chairman uses an egg-timer nowadays to limit the time. The enthusiasm of the designer is very contagious. Before you know it, the chairman explained, we will be talking for half an hour over all kinds of things around the flower parade! From 12 p.m. the visitors are welcome to check out the scale models and ask their questions to the designers who are present. For me it was the first time that I showed my photographs, enlarged and framed, to a real live audience. It took my quite some thinking how and where I could attach my photographs to in the hall above the restaurant. Eventually I borrowed two metal rectangular transport carts from the nursery home I work (storage trolleys for laundry) which was perfect! I attached my photographs on all four sides with tie-wraps with written fragments from past columns. On a side-table I had placed a notebook hoping the visitors would leave a note for me. They did! There was even a little message from Ireland.
On Sunday morning, again before the presentation of the scale models, the committee comes together again. This time to determine the order of the Flower Parade. They do this with the help of what we could see as a board game, with some cards. Every card represents a parade group or marching band. Like I told before, the first in line is always the Saint Swibertus Marching Band and second in line the Corso Kids. Those cards will be placed directly on the map. First all the parade groups will be placed in the order of the start position they’ve asked for. After that the committee will look at colour, size, theme, casting and choice of music. They will not place a parade group with a large street-act behind a marching band for example. In the end it has to be a various parade, interesting for the audience to see. Sunday afternoon at four o’clock. It was time to pronounce the final order. Always an exciting moment for the parade groups! The large hall above the restaurant was overcrowded! Television and radio reporters, myself with my camera, no lack of interest! Corso group Teeuws will be first in line, and no, it’s not allowed to trade start positions mutually. Like everything in life, this has benefits and disadvantages. Being first in line means a welcome with loud applause by an enthusiastic audience that is curious and alert for the parade. Very important to make a very good first impression, considering there will be following much more beautiful floats. When you are last in line, with a bit of bad luck, the audience has lost their concentration or already made up their mind about their favourite float. No, It’s really not that bad to be first in line. On the other hand it means that you have to leave the jury ground as first one for the line-up. After that you have to wait until all the other floats have hooked up. The supporting actors who are already in position on the float, also have to wait. Some of them meters above ground! Let’s hope it will be a nice temperature, not to warm, not to cold, no hard wind and no (heavy) rain. Let’s hope Black Magic will make it right!
To be continued.
Splendid Scars 03-07-2019
This weekend all the parade groups will show their scale model to the audience. This tradition goes back over 15 years! In the month of July, two months before the actual Flowerparade during the Summer Festival of Lichtenvoorde, the scale models will be presented by the designers. This takes place in the hall above one of the restaurants in town. Also the ten best amateur photographs of the Flowerparade 2018 will be exhibited, among them two of myself! One of those two photo’s shows a young girl performing as a newspaper seller. Last year I promised her the photograph. Last week she send me a text message asking very politely if I still wanted to give ‘her’ photograph away. Of course! Besides the exposition with the ten best photographs of last year, the made some space for me to show my own photo project ‘From Design till D-day’. Very exciting! I’ve chosen nine images, had them enlarged and put them in my new silver frames. Every photograph comes with a fragment from my columns so far. The most exciting part for the parade groups will be the announcement of the order during the flowerparade, on what place they can start.
Recently one of the builders told me that the men proudly brag about the wounds they sometimes catch building a float?! There should be an old article about this in the Flowerparade Magazine. Of course I was very curious about this article and in the end I’ve found it in the archives. To catch an injury here is apparently the ultimate proof that you’ve been working very hard for your parade group! The signature of unflagging industry, of persisting and keep going until the final end. Also in the building shed of Teeuws you have to be alert all the time. Everywhere people are welding, grinding, sawing, glueing and walking around. They sometimes have to squeeze themselves in impossible curves to reach certain places underneath or inside the float. To walk around on top of the scaffolding, meters above the floor, is more than enough challenge for me! The article tells seven different stories from the float builders, six men and one woman. The next three weeks there will be a building-summer-stop at Teeuws, a good moment to share those stories with you.
The foreword was written by Eva Geene & Kim Smits.
Who has the biggest? Who has the worst one? Just like some artist rap about the gunshots they survived (like Tupac), builders of a flowerparade group compare their wounds and show off the splendid scars! Mostly people see scars as a disfiguration of the body, in the flowerparade groups they mean a touchable memory, the ultimate proof of commitment. At the building side a lot of things can happen, like I told you before. A lot of things are lying on the floor: metal and wooden parts, nails, tools, cables and pieces of foam. The machinery is everywhere, people are everywhere. A perfect potential place for disaster! Welder`s conjunctivitis, sparks from welding on your skin, a nail in your foot, falling from the scaffolding or tripping over a cable. All kind of accidents that can happen while building the float. Of course Teeuws, and all other parade groups, precautionary measures are made and even required by the flowerparade comity. Nevertheless you will see signs in the shed saying: entry at one’s own risk. This has to do with the fact that you can’t hold the flowerparade group officially responsible for injuries. A liability insurance is possible but not required by law. Every parade group is responsible for making their building location as save as possible. There is a uniform safety plan with general and also more specific rules to prevent and limit dangerous situations. This safety plan gives instructions and contains several checklists how to handle in case of an emergency.
The story of 28-year old Jeroen from Laarheide.
On a Saturday I was working (with two other men) on a small float called ‘Chinese New Year’. All three of us had our own welding machine. I must have looked too much in the sparks of one of the other builders. In the evening the trouble started, when I opened my eyes it felt like they were full of sand. If you have welder’s conjunctivitis really bad, you can’t even bare daylight! This time I went to the doctor who gave me eye drops and a salve against that burning feeling. I carried my sunglasses for days. My grandmother said that I should take a small glass, fill it with evaporated milk and place this upside down over my eyes. Blink a few times, so the milk enters your eyes relly good! The next day, you will be free from all pain she assured me. I didn’t had the guts to try it out..
The story of the 49-year old Michel from Kapelleke.
Supporting actor in 1979.
In 1979 I designed the float ‘The life of Jesus Christ’. His live was displayed in six different periods. One of those scenes was the crucifix on the mountain of Golgotha. I was hanging on the wooden cross eight meters above ground, only wearing a piece of cloth. During the Flowerparade it was raining from the beginning until the finish. When the pulled me down to warm up, my body was completely numb! The next day I couldn’t move my arm anymore? Because of a small wooden holt underneath my arm to support it, a nerve got stuck. It took about four weeks before it feld good again. During the final presentation of all floats on the show field, someone else had to take my place. They managed to get him a skin colored suit against the cold.
I discovered myself that you can get welder’s conjunctivitis pretty fast! Because photographs of welding can be so spectacular, I often stand on top of it. When you look through the eyepiece of a mirror reflex camera, it’s less bad as with bare eyes, but not completely innocent. I found it out the hard way! My photo exposition contains one welding photograph, one grinding action. Both of them are pretty good shots (As I may say so myself). My project ‘From Design till D-day is of course far from ready. That’s why I have a second exposition in September in my church in Lichtenvoorde. I’m glad this project lasts a little longer, I really like it. What I’ve I will get wounded myself? Then also I will have a Splendid Scar!
To be continued.
About Women, configuration and fiddling 21-06-2019
With the first Sticky-Sunday coming up soon, more and more women find their way to the building shed. Estelle (one of the welders) is one of the few, if not the only one, who is present from the very first start. Leny is also present most of the evenings. Living on the farm where the building shed is located, she takes care of serving coffee, tea and lemonade to the builders. Astrid was already helping when the dahlia roots were planted and Veri already started wrapping the metal frame in cardboard and glueing paper on top of that.
When it comes to casting and configuration figures, the group of Teeuws exert themselves to the outmost! The flowerparade groups can win an extra prize for this. To buy all accessories and clothing in a shop is too expensive. Besides that, it’s much more fun figuring out together how to make the accessories, masks and clothing by own hand. When those plans are worked out, the women have their own space in the shed. That is something I really like about Teeuws, everybody can come up with ideas, everybody is heard. Everything is made together. It’s great to see them working, chattering and laughing with one another. Designer Paul Wieggers has a very clear view on how the configuration on and around the float must look like during the flowerparade. Over 30 configuration figures have to be dressed and decorated! Karin thought of a really awesome necklace for the tough looking African men, made out of real bones. Everybody was enthusiastic immediately, we want it! So the coming months everybody has to eat lots of spareribs and use a lot of soup bones.. Luckily here in The Achterhook most people have a large social network, so there is always someone who knows someone working in a restaurant. Auxiliary troops are approached right away by WhatsApp, we don’t want to risk it that all costumes don’t fit anymore in September! The women really think of every little detail. A big piece of black leather, meant for the costumes, looks shiny and new. Obvious not what the stylists had in mind! So the black leather is brought outside, spread out on the farmyard and with some huge and heavy stones it got a hard-handed treatment. One of the women brought a piece of rope that will be needed, orange coloured. Pretty soon we’ve figured out that it is used on farms to bind the hay bales, and also exists in black (the colour needed). Immediately some text messages were send to farmers among friends and family. Amusing to see how easy-going they are brainstorming and put the dots on the i!
One of them told me she is pretty proud on the amount of creativity within the group. Designer Paul always thinks out something really new, something surprising. He knows exactly what he wants to achieve and how to represent his ideas to the group. Sometimes his proposal for a new float has to settle with the builders, of course not everybody is cheering right away. When the women come together, it mostly turns out that in the meanwhile everybody did think about the new float, and has a head full of ideas! She also told me that during the years, she often saw something of ‘Teeuws’ on other floats. Something they thought of first. Designer Paul is a real innovative person, always new and original suggestions. Of course everybody takes a peek at the other parade groups, it takes a really good designer and dedicated team of builders to make your own creation again every year. Perhaps that is where the real strength of Teeuws is concealed? So the women have conquered their space in the shed, a professional workbench is there to stay. In The Netherlands, when we talk about doing handicrafts, we often refer to that using the word ‘fröbelen’. The word comes from the name of Friedrich Fröbel, a German pedagogue. It’s not a very professional description (the English term will be messing around) and believe me: those women are all pro’s!
In the big building shed all metal figures are coming closer to their final shapes. The rough techniques for moving the several parts is mounted which gives me a better idea how the float will move through the streets in September. All the way up in the shed, just a few centimetres under the wooden beams of the roof, I stood eye to eye with one of the animals. In the Flowerparade he can move his entire body towards the audience. Also here designer Paul is very accurate. The eyes and head of the animal has to match his point of view. When we turn our head to overlook something on the left, our eyes won’t stay on the right side! The animal already seems very impressive to me, can you imagine how it will look during the flowerparade from the street down below! His huge feet are lying on the floor of the shed. When Paul and Estelle were welding them together, they asked me if I could predict what they were making. From the start I could see the shape of the foot. Now with the toes attached I find them absolutely beautiful.
The coming weeks there is a very busy schedule. The first ‘Sticky-Sunday’, the folk festival in Goor (name of a town) to earn some money and selling tickets for the group. During the folk festival over 30 members of Teeuws (spread along four days) will work there to earn some extra money for the group. Also selling tickets is a good way to receive some extra income. I am very curious how the new T-shirt will be! Every year Paul designs a new one, all members of Teeuws can buy their own, just like a black softshell jacket and the original Teeuws Flowerparade Flag. Those past few weeks I bought myself new wooden photo frames for my very first exposition of this project! That will be during the presentation of all scale models, during the first weekend of July. I didn’t want to use black frames (despite of Black Magic), I don’t prefer white ones also. When I saw those silver painted frames I loved them instantly! Hopefully I get to use them for more expositions in the future.
To be continued.
Go with the Flow 05-06-2019
Three months have passed since Teeuws started building Black Magic 2019! The second week of July there will be a summer stop. For three weeks the men will be free from building and chores, at least not in the building shed! Of course there will always be a chance that the men will be put to work at home by their wives.. Before the summer stop, some big events are on the agenda. Like the presentation of the scale models during the yearly Summerfair of Lichtenvoorde. This time there will be something extra: a photo exposition. With photographs of my Flowerparade Project ‘From Design till D-day’, how cool is that!
I’m planning to present ten photographs that will show the building process from the first sketches until what Teeuws refers to as ‘Sticky Sunday’. This Sunday all the metal shapes will be wrapped with cardboard and after that the paper mache will be glued on top of that. That’s what Sticky Sunday is all about, the first one planned on June 23. All over the shed the metal shapes are stored, waiting to be wrapped with cardboard. When that’s finished they can be attached to the float(s). After that you will immediately have a better imagination about the final shape! The builders are looking forward to that part of the process, after that they will have more space again to walk around. At this moment they are working on several places in the shed on different parts of the float, what asks for multiple scaffolding and free walking space. I have to admit, I like it like this. Especially when I’m taking photographs from one of the scaffold boards. It’s amusing seeing all the activity around me, small groups busy with their own piece of the float, knowing that it is in fact one team and in a few weeks all the pieces will fit together like a big puzzle.
When I look back on the past three months and ask myself the question which part of building I liked the most, I find that difficult to answer? I like every part of the process! How the designer comes up with an idea and draws this on a piece of paper. How he afterwards gives form to his sketches by making a scale model. Admirable how the construction workers convert this into a concrete building plan, it seems so effortless to them! I like to see how a pile of reinforcing steel is bend, cut and weld together, and that I can really recognize several parts of the scale model from the start. And what to think about the activities outside the building shed, like the work on the flower field. Planting the dahlia roots, and make sure that the field will be filled with beautiful healthy dahlias, by fertilizing and sprinkle on the right moments. That means Marcel sometimes has to go to the flower field three times a day to replace the sprinkle installation! Because without dahlias, there won’t be a flower parade. I have asked several members of group Teeuws what they think is the best part of the whole building process looking back on their own membership. Estelle told me she likes the first few months the most, because from out of ‘nothing’ you start to work and slowly something huge arises. Willeke on the other hand likes the last few weeks before the flower parade the most, especially the last weekend when the dahlias are put on. Then you will see the result you’ve been working on for all that time she thinks. Paul Wieggers likes his main job, designing the float, the most exciting part of the whole building process. That’s in fact the real foundation of the float Paul told me. I also asked Estelle and Willeke what they would like to do or learn when it comes to building a parade float?
Estelle would like to have a look at the biggest Flowerparade in the world in Zundert (south of the Netherlands). Just one or two evenings to see how they build their floats. Willeke would like to participate in the casting group someday. The theatre on and around the float is a very important part of the whole Flowerparade. The last few years the casting has become the set of choreography, music and acting. The whole casting therefor will be judged separately. During the parade the jury will pay specific attention to things like clothing, imagination and physical skills of the supporting actors. The parade groups can win a special casting prize for the best total act. The group of Teeuws won this prize several times, the last time in 2018. Just like Willeke, I would like to participate in the group of supporting actors! Which part of the project ‘From Design till D-day’ I liked the best, I will tell you afterwards. The answer Bas gave me, on the question what he would like to do someday within the Flowerparade, was very funny. This year he will participate in the official parade for the 21st time, therefor he would like to see the parade someday from the public grandstand! This year I will experience the parade walking besides the float. Maybe Bas and I can switch places!
Before the presentation of the scale models, the group of Teeuws will help out during the public festival in Goor during the last weekend of June. During this four days of festivities several flowerparade groups from Lichtenvoorde will fulfill all kinds of chores to earn some money for their own group. Teeuws is one of those groups. However, first of all there will be ‘Sticky Sunday’. I think it’s a good time to put my camera away and get my hands dirty! After all I am a pretty good decorator, as I may say so. My father learned me how to do this properly. I have to admit I never saw such a good solution for the bucket with wallpaper adhesive before! Just bring a ironing-board from home (don’t forget to ask you wife) and with a small adjustment there will fit a bucket (with glue) in the gap where you normally put the hot iron. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, so I would say: let’s be on the ball!
To be continued.
When I take a look on the Teeuws website, and scroll through the photographs of the past, I feel deep respect for all their creations! Not an easy job to come up with a new subject every year, if possible even more impressive than the year before. Sometimes the subject will present itself, like in 1986 when the automobile celebrated it’s 100 year anniversary. In 1989 most of the patrolled borders inside Europe were removed, perfect theme for the flowerparade! In 1998 Teeuws used a Dutch folklore for the float, about the Buckriders. There criminal activities came to an end 200 years before, in 1798. In 2013 a very famous Dutch television program, called ‘Blik op de Weg’, stopped broadcasting after 22 years. The word ‘Blik’ means two things in Dutch: a can/ tin (metal) and glance. The program was comparable to Top Gear, so the title said: A glance on the road/ A (metal) tin on the road, referring to the car of course. Teeuws build a gigantic motorcycle. Wheels spinning, the motorcyclist bend over the steering wheel and the song ‘Born to be Wild’ from the speakers made a huge impression! The float got the first prize from the professional jury as well as from the public jury.
Also stories and legends are used quite often as a theme for the flowerparade. In 1984 Teeuws build a float about the last ‘cavemen’ from Lichtenvoorde in The Achterhoek, Aaltje and Fokke from the bunker. After the Second World War the vagabonds couple lived for years in an old abandoned bunker at the railroad tracks. In 2003 they build the winged horse from the Greek mythology, Pegasus. In 2008 again a local legend was used, the White Vixen from Zwiep near Lochem in The Achterhoek. Pegasus received the first prize from the professional jury, as well as the first prize for the best supporting act. In an early stage, during the building process of Pegasus, it became clear that there wouldn’t be enough dahlias that year because of the hot and dry summer. Therefor the designers got permission to use 30% alternative materials. Paul Wieggers, the designer of Teeuws, took this challenge with both hands. On the morning before the parade it became clear that Teeuws would only receive 35% of the requested dahlias! The side of the barn, a wall made out of wood, was teared down and used for the float. This sacrifice was rewarded with the first prize (the new wall is made out of bricks). Eleven years later, in 2014, Teeuws build another horse. An ‘Iron Horse’ this time. When the Indians saw the very first steam locomotive rumble through their land, they called it the ‘Iron Horse’. In 1924 John Ford made a movie with the same title about the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.
Nowadays the 18 flowerparade groups use more dahlias than those days with 28 floats! The floats became bigger and also higher. Besides that most of the groups grow their own dahlias now. The land is better cultivated thanks to new techniques and breeder have more knowledge. The use of alternative materials was the cause of heated tempers for quite some years! The flowerparade groups all over The Netherlands, also in The Achterhoek, want to build the float as big as possible to separate themselves from the others. The dahlia flower is a product of mother nature, every year it’s exciting if there will be enough flowers for all the floats. For a long time in the past, flowers were bought in the west part of The Netherlands. Those flowers were not really suitable for the floats, being too small and not the right colours. Besides that it was hard to find volunteers to go over there and pick the flowers. They are needed most at the building location, and not everybody is available all day. In 1997 all the groups had to use alternative materials because there was a huge shortage for dahlias that year. In spite of that Lichtenvoorde had a beautiful flowerparade that year, showing the enormous creativity of the builders in the use of alternative materials. If you ask Teeuws what they think of the use of alternatives, they will tell you that the appearance of the flowerparade will even be better! The designer has much more possibilities to make the float a big spectacle and artwork. That’s why Teeuws asked the comity to approve the use of alternative materials in the future. The heated discussion between builders and the comity lasted for two more years! In the year 2000 all the parade groups got permission to use a certain percentage of alternatives.
The cultivation of their own dahlias is an important source of income for the group of Teeuws. Besides that they have 21 sponsors who support the group with for example free materials, drinks and food or a yearly financial contribution. The introduction of the team T-shirt in 1992 was a huge success! That year they had the chance to win the jury prize for the third time in a row. Now every year they design a special T-shirt, sponsored by some companies. All the members of Teeuws will buy the T-shirt, what brings extra money in the bank. The several logos of the sponsors are placed on the back. The next year Teeuws got more sponsors, so their logos were placed on the sleeves. The third year for a moment Teeuws considered to design a longsleeve T-shirt, because a lot of sponsors wanted this kind of promotion. In the meanwhile the other flowerparade groups found out about this business and also started with their own T-shirts, so now the sponsors are more equal divided. Nowadays all participating groups are wearing a personalized T-shirt, which is very accessible for the spectators. The can see immediately to which team you belong, besides that everybody is dressed decent and the flowerparade has a more united character. That is exactly what the Flowerparade of Lichtenvoorde is all about!
Black Magic is showing more and more of its final appearance to me. Everybody is working so hard! To gain some more money, some of the members from Teeuws help out during the folk festival in the town of Goor. A good alternative way to earn some money!
To be continued.
Scrap Metal 07-05-2019
At the end of January I’ve started with my project From Design till D-day. In the meantime I’ve reached my 8th column and collected lots of photographs. Already three months have passed since the beginning! At the end of April, after planting the dahlia roots, I went to Berlin for a week. When I came back and visited the building location in the barn again, I was surprised to see how much work was done in the meanwhile! The first few weeks I mainly walked around in ‘scrap’ metal. Now the builders have started to put cardboard around the iron framework which makes the eventual shape much clearer. On the cardboard comes a layer of paper mache. Step by step the metal parts disappear, except for the big chassis in the middle of the barn. Of course I don’t dare to call that a piece of scrap metal..
They’ve stopped using (old) scrap metal a long time ago. The builders work with solid and reliable materials. That is also one of the requirements from the parade rules by the way. In January Harry told me that in the beginning they tried to keep the expenses for a parade float as low as possible. They didn’t have a financial buffer like nowadays. Back then they did use old scrap metal, the builders worked with whatever materials they could get their hands on. This wasn’t always the right and best possible material. In 1993 the history of Teeuws reached rock-bottom.. A catastrophe that lead to a much higher price of the floats in the years after.
That year again everybody put their heart and soul in building the float called ‘December-Race’. A beautiful design in which Santa Claus on his sledge with reindeers starts to chase Saint Nicholas and his horse Amerigo. Who will sell the most presents in The Netherlands! The race over the rooftops in Lichtenvoorde was neck and neck! Apparently both old guys went a bit too far in their competition. When the float left the barn a part of the construction collapsed. Saint Nicholas and Amerigo could not keep their balance any longer, and the both of them struck ground. Imagine yourself: that the float the group worked on with all possible effort (from Design till D-day for almost ten months) on the moment of transport to the start location will be irreparable damaged so that participation in the float is no longer possible.. No doubt that even the most toughest man from The Achterhoek will have tears in his eyes.
One of the members of Teeuws, part of the group from the first day, called his wife after the crash to share his grief with her. Just like me, she was not born and raised in The Achterhoek. The both of us are not raised with that flowerparade blood in our veins. She was a bit startled hearing him cry over the phone. When he told her the float got severely damaged, she was relieved and said to him: oh, is that all?! Meanwhile also she got ‘infected’ with the flowerparade-fever and prays that a catastrophe like that one will never happen again. After the official parade on Sunday all floats will be exhibited on the complex they’ve started from. In the morning before the parade only the jury will have access to the ground. In the afternoon, after the parade, all spectators are welcome to watch the floats from nearby. Of course, December-Race wasn’t one of them. To support the group of Teeuws, people were welcome at the farm to see the float over there. Apparently everybody was very curious to see who had crashed: Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas. There was a huge interest! There was even a special bus that brought spectators from the official complex to the farm. Teeuws placed a sign at the float that said: free gift. People could donate their contribution in a tin box next to it. They all had great compassion for the group, the amount that was collected brought a lot of comfort to Teeuws. That’s how it goes in The Achterhoek, the Flowerparade is a celebration for all. When one of the parade groups drops out on such a sad way, restoring their confidence is the least you can do.
So no more old scrap metal! The builders work with great care and attention on the chassis and the framework. In the meanwhile the scaffolding around Black Magic is growing. The float has reached the top of the barn, 8 meters high! The eventual shape and technics are becoming more clear to me every week. The scaffolding however will be broken down and rebuild again two more times? Before the float will participate in the official flowerparade, everything will be tested fully twice. Because the farm is too small for those tests the float has to be tested outside the barn. For now, the builders will have their hands full of scrap metal!
To be continued.
The Black Dahlia 22-04-2019
The botanical name of this flower comes from the Swedish botanist Andreas Dahl. Dahlias are blooming plants, a member of the composites. The dahlia was first discovered in Mexico, indigenous people used them as food and also as a treatment for epilepsy. Only after they discovered that the roots will bloom when left in the ground, the dahlia became an ornamental plant. Nowadays we know a lot of different types like the cactus dahlias, waterlily dahlias, pompon dahlias and the star dahlias. The flower is strong, easy to grow and comes in lots of colours (the black dahlia however is rare). In the 1930’s and 1940’s the dahlia was a famous flower, besides strong also cheap, therefore to be found on a lot of Dutch farmyards. Except ‘farmers flower’ the dahlia was also known as ‘a poor man’s rose’. The best types for the Flowerparade are compact, firm and have constant colours, mostly used are the pompon-, and star dahlia’s. During the flower period flowers can be picked from the plant. Within a few days new flowers will appear, so the availability of dahlias is not often a problem.
During the first years of the flowerparades, dahlias were not specially cultivated for those festivities. The builders of the float went through the entire neighbourhood to pick the flowers on farmyards. Just like all the larger flowerparade groups, also Teeuws grows their own dahlias. The flower meadow doesn’t only provide dahlias for their own parade, because they can pick the them during the entire flower period there is a lively trade between the several groups. Therefor the cultivation of dahlias is an important source of income. The amount is depending on the possibilities that the group has to eventually also pick the flowers themselves. The flowerparades that doesn’t take place on the same time, provide each other with dahlias. By cultivating their own flowers Teeuws can start applying the dahlias whenever they want. Some colours are specially grown for a certain float, they will buy cuttings in that specific needed colour. Just like they did this year for the float ‘Black Magic’. Not only the barn will be improved when possible, also for the dahlia field Teeuws will constantly search for improvements. Like the use of pesticides and the fertilization of the land.
During the first few weeks of the building process, the dahlia roots were taken out of the winter storage. The storage has an underfloor heating, so the temperature there is 5° Celsius continuous. Quite a big investment, but in the end less expensive than buying new roots (about €0,30 per root) every year, Marcel explained to me, we try to buy new roots only every three years. On the other hand, it is a product of Mother Nature, so how many roots actually survive the winter is always a surprise. The root of the Black Dahlia for example, is much more vulnerable, it’s not unusual that half of those roots have rotten after the winter. Before the roots get planted, they will be controlled and ripped by hand (separate the roots, so you will be guaranteed to have exact the same colours). Loose bits and pieces will be removed, otherwise it will end up in the field. Saturday the 20th of April it was time to plant the roots. Around eight o’clock that morning the first volunteers arrived at the barn. After a cup of coffee we went to the dahlia field on the other side of the road. Marcel Harbers, who is mostly in charge of maintaining the field, had set out all the crates with roots the night before along the side of the field. He also provided the plain board cross the ditch, of solid handrails again. The week before the land was already ploughed and provided with some extra plant nutrition. Also Robert Pierik is in charge of the flower field, mostly in the businesslike way. He considers in advance which dahlia colours Teeuws will need for themselves and if it will be profitable to grow them on their own field (or just buy them instead). He checks out which colours are good for commercial, and what the country wide appointments are from the National Flower Committee (like transportation costs, country wide plantation and determined price per dahlia). The tractor with handmade planting machine was already waiting for us on the land, behind the steering wheel sits volunteer Rob Wopereis. Besides working on the float wit group Teeuws, he has a big dairy farm in the nearby village of Zieuwent.
His son Niels came along. When the first flowerbed got planted, Niels sat on the planting machine near Robert. It’s important that also the younger generation learns how to plant the dahlia roots. The first thing the planting machine will do is make two ditches in the ground. Robert and Niels threw the dahlia roots in two separate tubes (one tube is one row) that dropped them in the ditch. The last piece of mechanism will close the ditches again. Because it’s very important that the roots will be spread evenly, they need to be dropped in the tubes in a steady tempo. Besides the two sorters, another two volunteers ride along on the planting machine to supply the roots from the crates. In the meanwhile Marcel told me the land is about 70 meters long and 85 meters wide. The roots are planted from the front to the back, always in the same direction. After planting a flowerbed, the tractor drove around the field to plant a new bed besides the last one. One flowerbed contains two rows of dahlia roots, one row measures 50 centimetres. Marcel marked this very precisely, put stakes in the ground with a long white ribbon attached. The ribbon was also attached to another stake cross the field, and by pulling it tightly they had a straight line. The tractor has also a handmade lever with a chain on it that can be dragged along the white rope. That way all the roots will end up in perfectly straight lines! The crates were waiting by colour, around fifty roots per crate. Every flowerbed counts about four or five crates of roots. When all the flowerbeds of one colour were planted, a sign with the dahlia name was placed by the last row. Sometimes there are some roots left, not enough for one whole bed. They will be planted in the last corner of the field, Sander told me. When we are grubbing-up the roots mechanically, it’s so much easier when every bed has one and he same colour he explained. The empty crates were thrown on the land during planting, Marcel and Ingo collected them on the edges of the land. Sander picked them up with a smaller tractor and brought them back to the storage.
What a beautiful weather we had during this labour! When it was time for coffee we drank it outside sitting on two wooden picnic tables. What a wealthy feeling! I am living in the Achterhoek for ten years now and I still feel this way. It reminds me of the past when I stayed on the farm of my grandparents in Winterswijk. My grandfather had a piece of land nearby, nowadays national park again (moorland). He kept some cows there and used it for haymaking. My grandfather would lift the hay on wooden racks (looking like a big tripod) and I would rake the rest. My grandmother came over with coffee and sandwiches that we ate in the middle of the field that had that special scent of grass and hay. Those beautiful moments were an important support to me and I was very certain about one thing: when I am an adult, I will come to the Achterhoek for good.
After planting the dahlia roots, Marcel spread some fertilizer on the land. With the right weather conditions, I must be able to see the plants coming above ground in two or three weeks he told me. I am already very curious how the colourful dahlias (over 10.000!) will decorate the field.
To be continued.
As clear as a bell 08-04-2019
The month March has come to an end. Spring is fighting with King Winter, who will win?! Just a couple of weeks, then the dahlia roots will go in the ground. In the next column, I will tell you all about that. For now I stay in the barn a little longer to tell about the building progress. I’m trying to go over there at least once a week, the moment depends on my working schedule at the nursing home. Anyhow, a lot of work is done over there! During those weeks mostly by the engineers. Besides building the float, every now and then another group activity comes around.
For example, the last Saturday evening in March, another parade group organized the fifth Flowerparade Quiz. This year the qualifying rounds as well as the finale took place on one and the same evening (in the past it took a few separate evenings). Fifteen teams participated, twelve parade groups (out of 18), the young builders group, the young designers group and also a team formed by foundation members. Almost 200 questions had to be answered! Pretty soon it became clear which teams took the best preparations, among other things by reading the book “Een B(l)oeiend Spektakel” (a blooming spectacle), it tells about 75 years of Flowerparade history in the town of Lichtenvoorde. The group I am following, Teeuws, participated for the first time. Main goal? To have a good time! I can say that mission was accomplished, even worth giving up a top ten place. The evening was very successful, all teams were encouraged by their own members. Also here I could see that the Flowerparade is very important for the society of Lichtenvoorde. The space behind the cafe was chock full.
Back to the barn. In the meantime I’m getting to know the steady group a little bit better. Their names, and who is responsible for what. When I am standing in the front or at the far end of the barn, I really enjoy overseeing all activity. Everywhere small groups are busy building their part of the float. Like I told last time, the chassis stands in the middle of it all. Construction steel now gives away the height of the float. This kind of steel is not difficult to treat or form and also easy to weld. Construction steel is relatively cheap, that it’s sensitive for corrosion doesn’t matter building a float. That’s why lots of meters of steel are lying around in the barn! Around the chassis they are working on other parts, like the frame that will give the float it’s shape. This base model is made out of reinforcing steel bars. From what I’ve heard over 5000 meter is used for the frame! This task is mainly achieved by the designer Paul Wieggers and 19 year old Estelle. After all, Paul knows as no other how he intended the final shape. He forms the steel bars in the right shape, after that Estelle welds them carefully together. Paul explained to me this is an accurate job. When the base model is formed wrong (crooked, too long or short) it will show in the final shape. Nice to see a young woman like Estelle working on the technical parts of the float! On this moment, she is the only woman working on the float (I’m still an observer). On the other side of the barn the father of Estelle is also busy building. Great that the passion of building a float is passed on to the younger generation. Besides that also very important, will we keep this immaterial heritage alive.
At the far end of the barn, Martin is busy sawing boards of foam in beams of equal length. On a work-bench nearby he placed a couple of duct tape strips (sticky side up). Duct tape is water-, and oil resistant, so very useful when building a float. The beams are placed in a row on the duct tape, rolled up and voilà: a round shape is created! In the corner waits a nice collection of bones and teeth, made out of styrofoam. At the end of the night Martin looked like a styrofoam man himself! The work Wilfried is doing, is not so messy. He makes very useful mounting material out of what I would consider as junk. I did see him walking around with buckets full of crown caps, but I had no clue w they were meant for. When I asked him about it, he showed me every step from crown cap till clamp. He bangs the caps until they are flat. With a special handmade tool he punches two holes in each cap. When he has filled his bucket with enough pre-treated crown caps, he finds himself a quit spot and puts a piece of iron wire through every cap. Later on in the building process, when they start working with cardboard, those caps are being used as mounting material (the iron wire is stabbed through the carton board and on the backside the two ends are twisted together). Being a layman (and urban woman..) of course I asked the question ‘why crown caps instead of tie wraps for example’? The answer followed with a big smile and in dialect: they will booze up anyway, so this is much cheaper! Ok, that is as clear as a bell.
My respect for those who build, grows every week. All voluntarily and with great devotion they are working nonstop on the float. Almost every one of them has a day job or goes to school. Although my own agenda is also pretty busy, I’m looking forward to visit the barn again. Until now, every time I’m amazed again about the creativity and the progress they made. All this handwork looks like it happens without any effort. In two weeks I will take you outside, to the Dahlia field of group Teeuws.
To be continued.
What’s Underneath 25-03-2019
The group of Teeuws started to build the float ‘Black Magic’ on the first Monday after the presentation of the scale-model. For as far as I know they are the first parade group who started building. They do have the advantage of course of having a permanent building site on the farm owned by one of the Harbers family. In the barn they have everything they need within reach. Other parade groups are very busy, for at least several days, to set up a tent that will be used as the construction side and make sure there is electricity and lightning. Teeuws doesn’t have to worry about that, they can start building right away. They deliberately made this choice since last year. Handling a schedule like this, gives the group enough space to take a three weeks break during the summertime (July). The whole process, from Design till D-day, will take at least six months. The group is working on Monday-, and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. This means the builders spend around 52 evenings and 26 mornings together in the barn! During those three weeks off everybody can clear their head, no thinking about the float, and make a fresh start again.
March 23, on Saturday morning, I set foot in the Harbers barn for the very first time. Like I told in the column ‘What’s in a Name’, this barn was especially designed to build a float inside. My father worked as an mechanical engineer on a wastewater treatment plant, as a child I’ve spend several hours in the workplace. The smell of lubricating oil, saw dust and metal felt familiar right away! Just like the sound of the welder, grinders and drilling machines. The enormous chassis in the middle of the barn, draw my attention right away. The undercarriage has been strenghtened with steel bars and provided with a powerful engine. Jos will make sure the chassis goes back on the road as safe as possible. He’s been in charge with this for years and years now, so he knows it from inside out. He told me the benefits of an electromotor underneath the float. This way they don’t need a tractor to pull the float, something you saw a lot in the past. A lot of floats in all sorts of parades are moved forward by human power. Underneath the construction people are walking and pushing the float. Nobody really likes that job during the parade itself, after all those hours of building everybody prefers a place up or around the float to enjoy the show. Besides that it’s also a pretty job, considering the float has to stop several times so the audience can have a good look. Therefor it’s great to see that the last few years groups started to work together. They will help one another pushing the float, this way the builders don’t have to do this during their own parade. Teeuws decided to use an engine that replaces the man-, and female power. Jos told me there is another benefit using an engine. The whole construction of the float doesn’t have to be so high, because there is no space needed for humans.
Jos drove the float during the final Flowerparade for 25 years. The chassis has the length of a touringcar, after all they are able to reach all places and skilfully navigate through the streets. Because he was the driver for so long, he was able to make some good improvements. Think about the exhaust for example, you don’t want to inhale them for hours being underneath the float in a small space! It’s pleasant to have a steady chassis, on the other hand it needs a lot of maintenance every year. Every year there will be some small adjustments, things get attached and weld together. This can cause weak spots in the metal, what has to be properly fixed to get approval again for participation in the parade. This inspection is done by a special safety commission, formed by members of the Flowerparade-team Safety and Technique and constructors from different groups. The permitted maximum width of the chassis, measured from the outside of the tires, is 3.50 meters. The minimum width of the axles has to be 1.80 meters, preferably made of 9 ton axles. The length of the float is not registered. A couple of builders told me to ask Jos about the steering-gear of the float ‘100 Years of Automobiles’? It only took a couple of seconds before Jos showed a grin from ear to ear and told me on of the many adventures of the Teeuws group.
In 1986 it was exactly 100 ago that the very first automobile hit the road. That was a perfect theme for the Flowerparade, and Teeuws build the float ‘100 Years of Automobiles’. The float became a beautiful combination of an old-timer and an ultramodern car. This was also the first year that Teeuws decided the float had to be able to drive itself, so all the attention would be drawn to the flower-decorated car. This decision though was made during the end of the building process, when the construction was almost ready! The installation of the engine (Simca 1100 car) therefore needed to be done from the bottom side. That’s why Jos spend the last few weeks underneath the float. On the last day before the final Flowerparade, the steering-gear still needed to be made. Jos made a crankshaft, operated with a chain to the steering column of the front wheels. It was perfect! Just a very small point of concern: when the float needed to go to the right, Jos had to steer to the left and the other way around, when Jos had to make a left turn the commander in front of the float had to give him opposite instructions. When the float left the barn, on his way to the start location, the batteries of the walkie-talkie seemed empty! One of the builders jumped on his bicycle to get new batteries, in the meanwhile they improvised with a piece of wood that was dragged along the road on a long rope (there was no time waiting, because all floats have to be on time at the start location). Jos could follow the piece of wood in front of him. Nowadays they paint white stripes on the road a few days before the Flowerparade. In spite of the complicated control system, it all worked out pretty good. Until the person walking before the float, holding the rope and giving the right orders, had turned around.. Walking backwards facing the float it got even more confusing! We will never know if it was a matter of not giving or following up the right orders, anyway a frontal crash could no longer be avoided. The float ‘100 Years of Automobiles’ crashed a brand new car (bought only 14 days before) belonging to one of the board members of the Flowerparade fair. The damage on the car was enormous, luckily the float hardly had a scratch 😉 and was able to participate in the parade after all.
To be continued.
The Revelation 11-03-2019
In the meanwhile I’ve visited Paul three times and saw the development in his design from a sketch on paper into a beautiful detailed scale model with actually working parts. Some parts are made out of cardboard, paper and white painter’s tape. But Paul also uses pieces of foamboard, an improved version of Styrofoam. With a Stanley knife or a little saw he can shape this into a pretty close approach of what has to become the final shape. I loved to see the way Paul is giving form to human hands! The fingers, made out of paper mache, have wooden cocktail picks inside. These were broken on the exact places where our fingers hinge. In that way the paper mache can be bend and modelled again to shape the form of a curved hand. Paul also uses the cocktail picks to make the scale model stronger. If you would use only (wood) glue he explained, there is a chance that the scale model will fall apart after a few years in an old barn with a lot of moisture. Besides the cocktail picks, painter’s tape is also used a lot. Paul lives on a beautiful location, next to the peatland called ‘Vragenderveen’ (Vragender is the name of a village in The Achterhoek and ‘veen’ is the Dutch word for peat). Because of that it’s really easy for him to also use natural materials for the scale model, like sticks, feathers and leaves. That makes this model of black magic even more trustworthy! Parts of plants, herbs and even bones have an important role during the rituals. The first small part of the scale model that Paul showed me, includes a real skull that Paul found on a hike through the peatland. Probably a grey heron. With some feathers and withered leaves he has turned it into a beautiful little model for the float. The other skulls are made from cardboard, great how identical they are!
I love the theme of this float. Darkness, mystery and the occult are subjects that entice my imagination. You will see me making photographs of toadstools on a dark Autumn day a lot sooner than shooting the first flowers in Spring! I love the photographs of people the most when they’re faces are obviously marked by life, when you know there is a story behind those eyes.. Like the Dutch photographer Joram Krol, you have to check out his work yourself. So this float got the name ‘Black Magic’ a much-discussed subject worldwide. Who doesn’t know the Italian Magica De Spell, always after Scrooge’s first and lucky coin. Voodoo and Winti are probably the best known religions inside the black magic, the straw voodoo doll and the pentagram the most used symbols. The pentagram is one of the oldest symbols in the world, the even used it 4000 years before Christ. No wonder the pentagram is to be found on this float! Hopefully pointing towards heaven and not the mythological underworld..
Paul, the designer, has his design crystal-clear in mind. How impressive to translate that into a sketch at first and later on form it into a scale model so that everybody understands how the float should leave the barn in the end! Paul told me that along the way he sometimes makes some changes. With every step he takes, he has to analyse the next one. Especially when it comes to the engineering, he explained. Can it be made like that, can we realize that moving part and most important of all: can the audience understand the float in a single look? Although you make the float as spectacular as can be in technics and colour, if the audience doesn’t get it right away you’ve lost. During the revelation of the scale model to the solid members of group Teeuws, I was so excited to see the final model and the reactions of the group! Even though I’ve visited Paul three times, the surprise was just as big for me as the others? That’s what happens with Black Magic, unpredictable. Paul explained his thoughts behind this design and his eventual idea to the group. The most important thing to him is that he can stand behind his concept for 100%, and that it’s realizable for the group. It will take Paul a little more modelling, rearranging and combining. Anyway, the theme is revealed. Black Magic makes his entry at the Flowerparade and takes over the darkest corners of Lichtenvoorde..
To be continued.
What’s in a Name 25-02-2019
My photographs are not complete without the story. The whole story! Therefor I asked a member of the parade group who could tell me more about the history of Teeuws. Immediately the name of the Harbers family was mentioned, ‘they know everything’ he said. And I should talk to Harry also, a member of the group since it was set up. On an ordinary Friday afternoon I found myself in the home of Elly and Harry between a big pile of files and photobooks! Martin Harbers had also joined us. After the first question from my side, a flood of beautiful stories came loose!
I was curious how the name Teeuws was chosen, was this a family name? Martin told me it was the name of the farm, or at least a bastardisation of that name. In The Achterhoek most families have a nickname, the Harbers family was also known as ‘Teeuws’. The parade group was officially set up by the Harbers family in 1982, on February 2nd. Martin and Marcel where part of a parade group for years, so they talked a lot about the Flowerparade at their elderly home. That’s how the idea came up to build their own float for the Flowerparade. Father and mother Harbers really liked the idea of a family float and donated the first ƒ1000 Dutch guilders. After all children and their own families (among them Martin and Marcel) donated ƒ100 guilders each, there was enough budget to build their first family float. To build a float back in those days, you needed around ƒ2000 Dutch guilders. Nowadays you will need around €15.000 euros to build a float for the Flowerparade! The family group counted about thirty persons. From the beginning neighbours, acquaintances and friends were invited to help building the float. That way the group of Teeuws became bigger. The first few floats were built at the farm of father and mother Harbers, in the barn. To create enough space and enlarge the barn, a large white tent was placed against the outside wall. After a few years the barn itself was enlarged and elevated. During the breakout of the (last) Classical Swine Fever all over the Netherlands in 1997/ 1998, it was very doubtful if group Teeuws could keep on building their floats at the elderly farm. They feared more likewise problems in the future, and therefor decided to move the building location in 1999 to the farm of another Harbers family member in a nearby village. Also here the barn was adjusted several times to place the floats!
During the foundation of the group in 1982 all family members got their own special task. The municipality was approached for a piece of land, Marcel and Jan were responsible for the purchase of the Dahlia roots and cuttings. André, who is a farmer, was responsible for the fertilization and maintenance of the land. Vincent, who has his own building company, would take care of the large white tent outside the barn. Martin and Harry had the duty to design the float and buy the chassis. They told me they bought the first one at a junkyard in Winterswijk. Someone offered them a large supply of wooden boards, the only condition was they had to break down the boards themselves! The first float got the name ‘Light and Shadow’ (see portfolio). The design referred to a fresco of archangel Raphael: the Liberation of St. Peter (imagination of good and bad/ light and shadow side of the world). One week before the Flowerparade mother Harbers passed away, literally throwing a shadow over the festivities. Everybody agreed to go on, that is what mother would have wanted us to do told Martin. She loved the Flowerparade and was very proud of the first family float. The only participated in the parade, nobody went to the fair afterwards. One of the old photobooks was placed on my lap and Elly showed me beautiful pictures of that very first float. It was also the first float in the parade! In those days there was an agreement that the parade group who applied as last, would ride at the head of the parade. In 1982 five new parade groups applied to the Flowerparade, what brought the total amount of floats at 28 (nowadays 18). The group Teeuws was one of those five new members, they waited as long as possible with the apply so the float ‘Light and Shadow’ would open the Flowerparade that year (they became 20th). Elly told me that she and her sister took care of the catering for years! Big piles of schnitzels and enormous pans of soup were prepared in their own small kitchen. When group Teeuws became bigger, this was no longer achievable. Nowadays a professional catering business delivers the meals. For the better, because in the last weekend before the parade over 100 volunteers are present! It would make me very nervous, if I had to roast 120 schnitzels on my small stove!
The first three floats were designed by Martin and Harry. The 4th one in 1985, ‘Mini-Triathlon’, was designed by Willem Betting. Because he had a very busy job, he just designed this one. The next two floats, ‘100 Years of Automobiles’ and ‘Whatever it Takes’, came from the hand of Rob van Elderen. He made all the sketches and drawings but didn’t interfere with the development during the building process. During those first six years the need arose in the parade group to have a designer who would also give them advice during the construction. For example about the use of the different Dahlia colours. That’s how the group found the art painter Paul Wieggers who I wrote about in my last column. In the next column, in two weeks from now, I can finally reveal the float Paul has designed for this year!
In memory of Harry Papen.
Harry was chairman of Teeuws for 17 years, and wrote down a large part of the history of this parade group. I am very thankful to Elly, Martin and Harry for their warm welcome, and also very grateful to the Harbers family, considering I’m an ‘outsider’ that I can use those lovely memories.
To be continued.
Discover the Design 11-02-2019
The name of this photo project says it all: From Design till D-day. This entire year I’m going to discover everything about the famous Flowerparade, starting at the very beginning. This parade group has a regular designer for years, Paul Wieggers, and I was more than welcome to take a look on the very first sketches of the float. It felt pretty special to me! I am one of the first people to see the beginning of the scale modal he is building, not bad for an outsider! Of course I had to promise not to speak or write about the design until the presentation in March.
Paul was born and raised in The Achterhoek, in Harreveld to be precise. He is a professional art painter. His first design for the group Teeuws was in 1988, called The Chinese Dragon. The became 7th with this float. Designing a float was not something new to Paul. In Harreveld he designed a few carnival floats. When he started designing for the Flowerparade, he discovered you cannot maintain the same dimensions. A float for the carnival is made out of paper mache, which will only be painted afterwards. The float for the Flowerparade on the other hand will be finished with a layer of dahlia flowers, so everything you design will become bigger and thicker because of that. Paul learned all about nailing the flowers and the use of their colours from the group. The first few years they worked with the sketches only, later on they started building miniatures and scale models. A very good development, according to Paul. The group will immediately see what I have in mind, how the float is supposed to become. For as far as possible Paul also shows the moving and turning parts in his scale model. The builders, who are responsible for the hydraulic system, can start thinking how to realize that.
Paul is a member of Teeuws more than 30 years now, in that period of time he got to know the group very well. He knows what they want and what their possibilities are. On the other side the group is familiar with Pauls skills and trust him on his ideas. Paul doesn’t receive instructions from the group anymore, he is free in designing a float. When he showed me the sketches for this year, he could tell me very precisely what he has in mind. Together with the miniature on the kitchen table, I had a pretty good imagination myself. I am already very excited! Thankfully I will only have to wait another seven months.. I was curious how long it takes Paul to make the sketches and build the scale model? It takes him about 200 hours! Making sketches is something he does the entire year he explains. Paul will see something in the news, in magazines or on the internet that inspires him. Building the actual float will add another 400 hours of labour. Sometimes in the past we made jokes about that, Paul says with a grin. We weren’t as experienced as we are now, designing and building would take us around 700 hours of work. With the same group we would be able to build an entire house in the same time! We would say to each other: “what if we start building a house for each of us?” We can always start building floats after that..
Paul really thought of everything! He has a special table for the scale modal, also with specific measures. That way he will know the uttermost dimensions for the float to be able to fit through the streets. Above the table he has stretched a piece of rope, showing Paul the maximum height. The table is placed before a white wall close to the window. In that way all the attention will go to the model and you will see its exact shape and colours. The presentation of the scale model to the group is on Saturday the 9th of March. I am so curious to see the end result of this model and how the group will like it! I will tell you all about it on the Monday afterwards.
To be continued.
From Design till D-Day 28-01-2019
Since I have moved to The Achterhoek I had the wish to look behind the scenes at one of the groups who participate in the famous Flower Parade of Lichtenvoorde. What is happening there?! Of course I realize it’s a huge job to get the float ready for the final parade. It takes almost the entire year, all voluntarily! That’s why I decided to do this new project. I am so very happy that the Corso group ‘Teeuws’ opens her doors to me, I am more than welcome to write about and photograph all the steps in the progress! In 2019 the Flower Parade of Lichtenvoorde celebrates her 90th birthday, so this whole project is even more special to me. During the summer market all the scale models are presented to the public. By then I hope to show some of my photographs enlarged. As a hostess of the landscape of the municipallity Oost-Gelre, I will write the columns also in English. After all my website has a special part about The Achterhoek in English language. A Dutch national magazine, The Naober, is going to share the columns! I am very excited to get started.