Extraordinary and Amazing Crystal Skull done by Georg Brandt

Carved by a Master German Carver, Idar-Oberstein

This crystal skull is an example of a very precisely done human skull done by a master carver in Germany, Georg Brandt. We are very grateful to Mr. Brandt that we can present the background and story of how this crystal skull was made. Also we are very pleased to report that the people who acquired the skull from Mr. Brandt, a very nice couple in England, found the skull via this website. Mr. Brandt is one of the featured carvers in our new book, Journeys of a Crystal Skull Explorer.

Dimension and Size of Skull

From front to the back it is 14.5 cm (5.71 inches), the height 9.5 cm (3.74 inches) and the breadth (width) is 9 cm (3.54 inches)

Weight of the Skull

The skull weighs 1600 grams (3.53 lbs) and was started from a 12.5 KG (27.56 lbs) block of quartz crystal that the carver bought in Madagascar (Africa).

The skull is carved to a high level of precision and its dimensions are actually the same as found with a human bone skull. The teeth look completely natural with the highest level of detail. The crystal that was used in the carving is almost total clear and transparent. However, there are a few long straight needles embedded within the quartz from black tourmaline that one can see when looking from underneath the skull’s jaw. There are also a few inclusions inside the quartz piece.

This is a uniquely carved crystal skull done by a Master Carver from Idar-Oberstein, Germany. Many people seek the assistance of the carvers of Idar-Oberstein to do special stone pieces for them. The reason why these carvers are in such high demand is because they are able to reproduce to such a degree of accuracy the piece they make, which are done in a variety of different gemstones.These artisans specialize in reproducing known objects or cameos (of animals, plants or even people including styles of work done by former ancient cultures in the world such as Roman or Greek). The carvers of Idar-Oberstein have been active since the 16th century and in order to become a carver, they must go through many years of training and apprenticeship.

The carver of this specific crystal skull is a member of this elite group of carvers. He is actively sought out by people from all over the world to create special stone pieces on their behalf. He is a master of making cameos and three dimensional based objects.

Frontal View of the Crystal Skull

Background on the Carver

(A Master Carver from Idar-Oberstein, Germany as known as the “Gemstone Center” of the world)

Georg’s career began as a carver in 1971. At this time, his teacher at school recognized that he had a special talent for rendering and drawing 3-dimensional objects. Thus the teacher recommended that Georg should speak to one of the master gem carvers in Idar-Oberstein to see if he would be accepted as a student to do stone carving. Two weeks later Georg had an interview with such a carver who also recognized Georg’s talent and decided to take him on as his apprentice. The master carvers in Idar-Oberstein only work with one student at a time by the way.

For 3 ½ years, Georg met with this Master Stone Carver for two times a week and then went to a carver’s school at night. By law in Germany, an individual is not allowed to work as a carver unless they have such training. In this special school Georg not only learned about specific techniques how to carve gemstones, but also learned about the weights, appearance and hardness of different gemstones and from where they are unearthed within our world. He also had to study the history of art in order to fully understand and appreciate how to carve the proper proportions and dimensions of any object that he would be requested to reproduce in the future.

In order to setup their own workshop, a carver must take a Master Examination which requires the carver to create a “Master Piece”. In 1988, after 17 years of study and hard work as a carver for a few local companies, Georg finally passed his Master Examination. He made an unbelievable “Master Piece” from a very unusual piece of agate. This stone was a very bright red on the outside and had a grey color to the stone inside. Thus he made a mouse (from the grey portion of the stone) that is lying inside of half an apple (from the red part) depicting that the mouse had eaten this fruit. Georg stated that his master piece in currently on display in the famous German Gemstone Museum in Idar-Oberstein and that he serious doubts he could re-create this carving as it would be impossible to find such a special stone like this ever again.

A closer look at the precise detail done of the skull's teeth

History of the Crystal Skull, Georg Has Carved

In 1996, Georg was in Madagasgar and the local people heard there was a German in their town looking for stones. So he was approached by a native man who at first offered him a strangely form piece of quartz as a gift. Then later, this native man returned and showed Georg a very large raw block of crystal which Georg purchased from him. When Georg returned to Germany, he brought the piece on the plane with him so it was not damaged. Georg said when he first looked into the block, he already saw the form of a skull there and knew he would eventually carve it into such at a later time.

This quartz piece stayed untouched in his stockroom for a few years before but then finally, he was inspired to begin to do the carving to make it into a crystal skull. At first, for a few weeks, he just devoted all his time and worked upon this piece of quartz but finally, about four or five years ago, he finished it.

Georg told us that he had visited a number of times the Museum of Mankind in London, where the British Museum Crystal Skull was kept until recently. When he saw this crystal skull, as a carver he was able to determine from the style of the workmanship that it had been produced by a carver’s wheel. He felt that he personally could do a much more sophisticated job and thus this was one of the reasons he became inspired to do a carving of a crystal skull himself.

During the carving of his crystal skull, Georg used a dentist’s drill to make the teeth so they are extremely accurate. The actual polishing of the skull took hours and hours of time. In order to get the details to precise match a human skull, he needed to use a few very small wooden wheels with a paste that held a fine diamond powder onto the wheels.

Side Profile of the Crystal Skull

History of Idar-Oberstein

Idar-Oberstein is actually the name of two cities in Germany which have merged together (since 1933). Idar-Oberstein is located in the Nahe River Valley which is part of the Rhineland-Palatine region in the southwestern part of Germany. It is the largest city in the Hunsrück Mountain range and has a population of around 50,000.

It is currently best known as one of the most famous “Gemstone Centers” in the world as throughout the city are numerous shops that sell all kinds of gemstones and semi-precious stones plus the incredible artwork and jewelry that is made by the local carvers. It has been documented that the mining of agate, jasper and quartz began in 1497 as in this area were incredible mines of these gemstones. This eventually lead to the creation and demand for local carvers to live in this area. Originally, the river was used to power the carver’s grinding wheels. (Note: a number of the carvers in Idar-Obersteinn claim that mining and cutting of agate dates as far back as to the Roman times …)

However, in the early part of the 19th century, the mines tapped out from their minerals wealth and thus this region went through a temporary decline. However the industry had a resurgence when quartz crystals were shipped from laden rich Brazil in the 1870’s. It is stated that by this time there were more than 150 cutting shops throughout Idar-Oberstein. The carvers here work with all kind of gemstones and as an example of some of the objects they produce includes: dishes, goblets, bowls, snuff boxes, cane heads, parasol handles, fancy buttons, statuettes of animals and people and even a few crystal skulls have been carved by the talented artisans in this region.

The region also hosts the International Trade Fair for Precious Stones and Jewellery (Intergem) which began in 1985 that is held every year in September or October. It showcases many local dealers who sell fine and loose colored stones, as well as jewelry of various designs. There are a number of master cameo carvers that live in this area as well. The term cameo by the way is defined as carved gems with incised and raised engraving, respectively. The carving may be done either by simple manual tools or by rotary tools ( drilling and grinding ).

There are two museums in Idar-Oberstein which show examples of the work done by the local carvers: the Museum Idar-Oberstein and the German Gemstone Museum (this last museum is considered by many gem connoisseurs to be one of the best in the world).

From the book, “Mystery of the Crystal Skulls” written by Chris Morton and Ceri Louise Thomas (Published by Bear & Company, Santa Fe, USA, 1998): The authors had an opportunity to speak to Hans Jurgen Henn, who is an owner of one of the ateliers (carver’s workshops or studios in Idar-Oberstein). One key idea that Mr. Henn discussed for his interview related to the stone work done in Idar-Oberstein is that the dealers protect their business by keeping their customers away from their carvers. They never tell their customers the name of the carver of the pieces they buy nor do they keep any records about this either.

Mr. Henn showed the authors a crystal skull that was made in his workshop around 1993. It was a small skull but also anatomically correct as the one shown on this webpage. All of its feature were realistically carved including the teeth. This skull was also made from a very pure and transparent quartz piece and like the other modern skulls being made today, was done by diamond-tipped tools. So as Georg states, occasionally the carvers in Idar-Oberstein decide to make a crystal skull but when they do, they are very precise and accurate.

Why had this skull been carved, well according to Mr. Henn: “The stones tell us how they want to be carved and cut, and this can make things a little difficult. You see this stone, I guess, it was sleeping for awhile before he told us what he wanted to be.”

Posted in Articles by / October 16th, 2010 / No Comments »

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