Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rock Cover


Massive boulder? No, it's a lightweight imposter, and it's hiding your lawn's ugly utility post underneath. Why hire a landscape contractor when you can easily move these natural-looking, Thermostone plastic replicated rocks to enhance your yard, or cover ugly sewer-cleanout pipes or utility boxes. Four flanges let you secure it into ground. Won't crack in cold weather.


http://www.somethingawful.com/d/guides/skymall-guide-part7.php?page=3

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Handy Dry Stone Wall Barbeque Cover.

It's a great way to improve the look of unsightly things around the house. Dry stone walls have become increasingly popular here in Canada thanks to the hard work of proponents of the craft to the point that there is becoming a real demand for this hot new look. If you can't afford to have a real one built or you don't have the skill to build one yourself you can still buy a variety of imitation dry stone wall products to enhance the look of just about anything you can imagine on your property. Tomorrow let's look at some other products.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hand Pitching


This is new section of pitched pathway built in the lake District by professional waller and trail maker Gavin Rose.


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I first met Gavin in Mallorca at the 2007 Stone Symposium workshop in Deia where a large number of enthusiastic students learned to build the unique walls and historic cobbled stone pathways they have there.




Gavin has since been to Canada several times to take our Canadian bridge building workshops in Russell Ontario, Cobourg Ontario and most recently at the DSWAC annual event Rocktoberfest last year where Gavin introduced this method of pitching for the walking surface on Kay's Bridge which we built during the festival.


Here is what Gavin writes about this method.


This style of stone pitching has a long history in the Lake District in places such as slate quarries, where the steep grade of the track required to move material on the fells to lower down meant that the tread needed to be reinforced. In this particular case, a combination of trail bike traffic and water was severely eroding this unclassified road.


For those unfamiliar with stone pitching, one way of describing it is like a single skinned retaining wall with a very low batter i.e. a roughly 6 to one batter as opposed to the more normal proportion of one to six. As the track was lower than the verges on either side a pipe and stone culvert were placed down the middle and the pitching built over the top of it. At certain points in the pitching, water bars were installed to divert surface water run off into the culvert underneath.


To get an even surface I used a a simple technique that I learnt in Mallorca, Spain where pitching has been used for thousands of years. At the start of my pitching, at the down hill end, I placed a board across the road at the height I wanted the final surface of stone to be and placed another timber board cross the road at the other end of were the section of pitching would end - using a spirit level to get each board level. With the two boards in place either end I could then use a third board, with one end resting on the downhill board and the other end on the uphill board to determine the final surface of the pitching in between.


Then it was a case of laying the stones much as you would in a wall - placing them with their length running into the pitched surface and crossing the joins for strength - and using my board as a guide to get the right level(much as you would use a string line and frame on a wall to get the correct batter). Once the stone had been laid, gravel was meticulously worked into all the voids between and under the stones, using a stick, to help hold the stones in place.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Thinking Like A Tree

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I wonder if stones ever imagine themselves being other things?

Perhaps by fitting them together into other things we can help them realize their dreams.

See previous post Handy dandy obelisk.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Recycle of Life


Stones have definite seasons. They are all about rebirth too. They wait every day just like the plants until their time comes.In spring they peek out from their wintry homes where they've laid nestled in the ground and begin to warm themselves in the protracted rays of sunlight.
They eagerly anticipate being picked up and put back into the wall or taken off somewhere close by to be used in a new wall.

Fieldstones are the wingless harbingers of newness, they are like stone eggs, the eggs of some stone Phoenix perhaps – humble tokens in the 'Re-cycle of Life'. I can hear Elton John singing a re-cycled version of the song already.

I remember picking stones out of the fields every spring on the farm.
We loaded them in the tractor and carried them off to the side of the field and just dumped them.
I'd ponder the variety of shapes and couldn't convince myself they were all useless.
As each one passed through my hand I'd ask myself "What can I do with this one?"

I found out slowly that stones 'know what they are about'. It took me even longer to find out what my relationship was to them. Even then it took years of doing stone and brick restoration, years of working with them until I ended up becoming a waller.
It's not the money, not the honour, nor the pride of workmanship even, it's the being close to such sane loyal undemanding, totally inspiring parcels of matter on a day to day basis.

It's about the genuineness of the relationship between the animate and the inanimate.
Hours of picking stones off the land makes you peaceful, keeps you simple and ever contemplating. Stones teach you to wait for change.

They teach you tolerance too.Just the pleasure of gathering rocks alone and the knowing you are going to be able to find ways for you and them to work together– this can be the best part of your day.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bright ideas


People in a record 134 countries and territories across the globe will switch off their lights for an hour today in a unified show of support for action towards a sustainable future for our planet.




Earth Hour is not just about turning off the lights for an hour.
It's about 'turning on' to earthy materials again instead of wasting the earth with fabricated bye products.
About not relying on stuff that doesn't last and can't be reused without doing even more harm to the planet.
About looking at the basic stuff of 'earth' in a new light.
About not filling land fill sites with stuff that doesn't need to be buried.
About reducing the other useless stuff that we throw away at the dump.
About returning to materials like stones and rocks that you can reuse recycle indefinitely.
About valuing something that we've been burying, grinding, pulverizing, smashing, tossing and ignoring for too long.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Originality

...."For me, those that get all up in arms about sources of inspiration, the ones that misuse words like ‘plagiarism’ are rarely actively producing anything of value themselves. They’re merely trolls, eager to join a mob instead of spending their time and energy inventing, remixing and poking. If that’s all you can contribute--vague threats of lawsuits, insults and screeds--we’re better off ignoring you.

And for the self-styled producer who does nothing but copy and pass things off, we’re better off without you as well.

Now, more than ever, we can see the work an artist (in any medium, any endeavor) produces over time. If all an artist can do is steal, the truth will out. For the rest, though, a lifetime of consistent provocation, inspiration and generosity can’t help but shine through. Inspirations and all".

Seth Godin

Excert from....Originality

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Handy Wind Break


There is something charming about this idea. It's saying, "Hey dry stone walls look aesthetically pleasing and they are worth having around, even as gestures" I'd rather wake up to see these kinds of partitions than lines of starchy concrete waiting to be scattered in debris.

The site is called Camping With The Soul


http://www.campingwithsoul.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=122

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bred Rock




Don't stop hunting until youve found the perfect rock.....
The Rock Hound needs you to help it find the best spot in the wall.
The Rock-waller is the newer chunkier stronger American version of the British Stone-waller.
The Boulder Collie is always looking for a job like holding up a cheek-end or working with a Shepherd stone to keep sheep incloser
The Boxer stone likes to help out with the shape of walls square he can
The Irish Stone Setter is eager and faithful but also has a will of its stone
The Great Pyramid Rock is large and triangular. It's likes to help you scheme
The Greyround will race other rocks to be in the wall
The Pekigneiss is a rock that doesnt like to be taken for granite
The Pointer rock makes an enduring standing stone.
The Ridgeback is useful for coping.
The Schist Tzu needs to be laid along its Tibeting plain
The Wallmariner makes a good break-water or sea-wall.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Rocker Spaniel.

The Rocker Spaniel can not be left alone all day. Even though they have such a happy playful nature and can 'occupy' themselves anywhere, if you want them to stay that way you will still need to exercise yourself to keep them from wiggling and shimming back and forth.

When it's 'localized' (having found or been placed in a good home) the Rocker Spaniel is submissive and pliable. They do have a short expansion span however . At other times they can become too responsive. You may have difficulty training them in a course with other rocks of the same size. The Rocker may simply turn everything into an opportunity for 'roll playing'.

Rockers need to be brushed up against bigger stones.This works both ways as it makes the really big ones less erratic. The Rockers often need clipping too. They squirm a lot and have a distinctive rocky order which, in a wall can make it unbearable. Don't believe the bad hype about these rocks, however. A high-persensitive of them are not the crazy movers and shakers that they are laid out to be. But you do have to be careful not to give them any wiggle room because they don't like being far away from other rocks or given too much space in a wall. You have to make sure they 'stay' exactly where they're supposed to.

Young Rocker Spaniels have a nervous disposition in masonry and may not be able be dry stones all the time, but eventually they will stop having accidents


Monday, March 21, 2011

The Dolomite Pincher


You should never approach a Dolomite Pincher Rock quickly or thoughtlessly. While most rocks definitely prefer long periods of inactivity, they can accommodate a certain degree of unexpected jostling and never try to nip their waller while he tries to work with them.

In the contact sport of walling you can't always avoid injuries but with Pinchers it's a whole different story. You'd better not get them startled! A Pincher is an in-your-face-rock that bites first and asks to squish them later.

The Limestone Dolomite Pincher is a tough, solid looking incredibly agile rock, often hard to handle and, did we mention this? - likes to pinch. Many specimens are sleek and angular while others can be broad and chunky. But don't let their shape surprise you. These rocks are fast ! - especially the ones that are not held held 'fast' in the wall. They are not the passive aggregate type and they are certainly not 'pushovers'. They should never be left outside in your back yard, unsupervised. The best way to keep them in line is to build an obstacle course with them.

The Dolomite Pincher is territorial. They make great guard rocks. A large pile of them in the front yard can look quite intimidating. They will always try to pin your ankles and trip people up when they are stepped over so it's best to warn the neighbours to keep a safe distance. If you can't build a wall around your property to keep them back from being an eye sore, invisible fencing is probably not going to work either.

If you are hitting them with a hammer it is important to never make direct eye contact with them. If you want to take these kind of rocks for a good long wall it's probably better to look for the ones with the nicest faces and just leave the others alone to sort themselves out inside the wall, even if they do appear to be running the joint.

Go slow and exercise caution even with young
Dolomite Pinchers when attempting to put them in their place.
Make sure to look around and choose the right 'puppy' for you !

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Scottish Terracer Rock


The Scottish 'Terracer' is a bold compact rock that exemplifies strength in a small package–a focused and thoughtful rock whose determination to hold up its own weight, while at the same time catching anything pushing out from the ground, makes this a superb retaining wall material.

This building bundle is staunchly self-reliant, though course and crusty at times. Like the terraces they were designed for, the Scottish Terracers are built lower to the ground and have tremendous staying power. Walls made with Scotties are built more for structure than for long-distance. These rocks make for walls that swallow up squirrels and chipmunks with rollicking enthusiasm.

Steadfastly loyal to their wallers's intentions the Scottish Terracers can make intimidating barriers. They should be introduced to other rocks at an early stage and not allowed to be sharp. Otherwise they can be scrappy with other rocks.

To not trace along the wall with this kind of rock is a challenge, for no breed of rock has higher self-esteem or a stronger will to lie long-ways rather than sit obediently nestled into the wall -- this is not a rock for wallers who will easily compromise their standards. Firm, consistent placement is a must, for the Scottie Rock is proud, sensitive, and easily put out. He may retaliate if jerked or pushed too far with rough handling.

If you strike a Terracer and you go beyond what they believe is a fair dressing down, they are more likely than other breed of rock to bounce back or snap. Terracers are apt to "return pain" if they "receive pain." Be extra careful when putting your hands on them to try to alter their disposition.

'Standoffish' by nature Scottish Terracers make bad foundation stones or pavers, and so need extensive exposure higher up in the wall . Even then Scotties may sometimes jump out of a wall for no reason and go down right nasty.

While Scottish Terracers proportions are well defined and impressively modular they can be scrappy with other rocks of the same specs .

video

Music - A Gathering Of Stones
Dave Goulder and Friends

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cairn Rocks


If you're going to try building a cairn you'll need a lot of special 'cairn' rocks. Hopefully you'll find this type of rock all around where you're planning to build, both on the surface and under the ground. If not you will have to adopt a different rock material and a new strategy.

The terrain where cairn rocks prefer to gather is usually rugged uneven ground, full of outcroppings and glacial till. Cairn Terrain Rocks (or 'Cairn Terriers' as they're commonly called) are great for building free-standing mounded dry stone monuments. They are small to medium sized rugged rocks which love to do any job that you set them to do. They seem to like to huddle together in groups nestled on top of one another. Their shape is usually somewhat triangular, with smaller rear sections and larger faces. This makes them fit well in rounded structures. Take care not to upset them while you are building with them as they can often be quite aggressive and hurt you, or more likely fall out with each other.

Cairn Terriers must be put in their place at an early stage so that they don't try to pull some quick moves on you. The toughness that makes them suited to aggressively fastening on to other rocks can frustrate you when you try to use them in different combinations with less suitable shaped material. Cairn Terriers can be stubborn and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you have to prove that you are the one doing the building. Your walling must be absolutely consistent and you must 'stand your ground' with them. Make them sit up and mark well the place that you have decided they should be.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Brutal Standards


Let's look at the Standard Brutal Rock. This is a chunky breed of rock of medium-large to very large dimensions. It comes in a variety of colors. It is a rock that you will want to think twice about bringing home. It may look lighter than a Boulder Collie and fairly easy going, but it isn't. It has an irregular shape which coupled with it size can make it quite a challenge to handle. The Standard Brutals got their name for a reason. They like to have you wrestle with them and they are generally not very obedient either. The Standard Brutal Rock is one of the smartest of all breeds. He is a "thinking" rock who pays attention to his owner, learns quickly, and then resists whatever you are trying to do.
The Standard Brutal is by no means perfect or low-maintenance. They usually need a good deal of chipping and shaping. You need to do this in the field because 'housebreaking' them in the back yard can make a lot of rubble. Standard Brutal Rocks need a lot of daily companionship. They suffer from loneliness and separation anxiety if left alone too much.
When you do get it home you will want to put it somewhere low to the ground. Be careful that his presence doesn't cause conflict with some of the smaller rocks, especially where they are in a pack together. Remember this intelligent breed cannot simply sit in the backyard and be ignored.
Most Standard Brutals are sensitive rocks for their size, sometimes even hypersensitive. If you push them unexpectedly or startle them they tend to move quicker than you think. They could hurt you. These rocks if left sitting awkwardly on their own are not good with small children. Similarly Standard Brutals can get upset if there's too much activity or conflict or roughhousing in your neighborhood -- they prefer peace and harmony. Many Brutals together make a powerful wall but make sure they all fit in — you do have to watch your lines: some Brutal lines are high-strung. Ones that get seriously out of line should be put down.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Identifying with Rocks


The attraction (and humour) of owning a Pet Rock has a lot to do with 'rock identification', that is recognizing a rock - or petra (Greek "πέτρα"), often makes better companion and fits better in a home or around a property than most pets do. If we are looking for an undemanding companion that is content to stay in the house and sleep all day, that doesn't need walking or feeding, that won't chew the rug and isn't going to rack up a lot of vet bills or roll over and die on us one day, then a common rock does appear to be the perfect choice.

Genuine pet lovers are looking for more interaction. Even if it means having their time and finances eaten into and enduring the pile of crap heartache and pain that often accompanies having a pet; anyone who love animals will have difficulty with the idea of caring for a rock instead. It's too safe. It's too boring. They want to be needed and need to be wanted. Rock lovers, on the other hand, have recognized ( some of them perhaps only barely ) a different need within, one that can be only be satisfied by the presence of, and an interaction with, something less animate.

Pet Rocks not only satisfy the needs of the people who don't really want pets, they satisfy the needs of people who don't quite 'get' stones either. The rock lovers who are content with merely storing one or two rocks on a shelf do not understood the complex attachment rocks can have with each other.

While humourous and full of puns the instruction manual that comes with every Pet Rock portrays them as uninteresting, predictable, common and lovably unresponsive. We are not encouraged to discover their real worth or explore their inherent structural aesthetic potential. A genuine newbie rock hound might do better owning a pet first, in hopes of eventually developing an understanding for the kind of creative input and exciting long term commitment we can expect from rocks and stones. While pets are always looking to us for food and water, rocks which need neither, will ever continue nourishing us and feeding our imagination.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pet Rock Rescue


The 'pet rock' fad caught on quickly and flourished here in Canada back in the 70's as profiteers saw an opportunity to catch people's fancy with these cute cuddly aggregates. Unfortunately the enthusiasm for owning them soon dwindled and the whole 'rock-caring' phase vanished not long afterwards as public interest in anything to do with rocks, especially giving rocks a good home, dropped out of the public consciousness.

The brief enthusiasm the media generated to make people want to adopt rocks did little if anything to improve dry stone walling conditions here in Canada. Yes, rocks of all sizes were taken home and loved briefly, but soon after many of them were forgotten and abandoned.

Adopted without any thought to where these defenseless rocks would stay or how they would fit in, many stones and rocks were left uncared for on window sills and book shelves, or worse trapped in basements in sealed cardboard boxes or merely discarded a few weeks later in the trash. A lucky pet rock might be re-gifted and find a new owner who gave it a home in a wall or garden feature, but most rocks merely tossed. Like the pet hedgehog and the miniature pig, the pet rock has gone the way of the hoola hoop, no longer receiving the attention it once enjoyed with the Canadian public, as it lost its esteemed place to the more high-profile, more animate varieties of household pets.

In the next few days the whole subject of giving new homes to rocks will be revisited. The traits and characteristics of various rock breeds will be discussed and advice on choosing them, getting along with them as well as tips on training grooming caring and working with them will be looked at.

First it would be good to look at some of the original literature that came in the Pet Rock box. While every pet rock came with a useful instruction manual, not all the information was correct and some of it was a bit misleading in terms of not having owners being encouraged to develop their pet rock's full potential. It is important to understand too what each rock's unique needs are and tomorrow we will start with a brief overview of what to expect when you bring rocks home to stay with you .

It is hoped that this series will be helpful to anyone looking to understand rocks better and create a meaningful support system for, and with, them.

Again, as with other Thinking With My Hand blog themes, you are invited to make comments and suggestions concerning common rock breeds (and more unusual varieties too) that might be fun to discuss in upcoming posts.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More Water Under The Bridge



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The relaxing sound of water accompanies this short slideshow of photos of Kay's Bridge taken by John MacLeod around March 11th 2011 after a couple days of rain. The water flows freely under this dry stone bridge which we built last October at the DSWAC Rocktoberfest event held in Landon Bay Park near Gananoque Ontario.

We first visited this Canada Parks Biosphere property over a year ago to see about building a dry stone bridge there for our four-day international dry stone walling festival and coincidently that day the creek level was at the highest John had ever seen it.


John showed us the place where he thought a bridge would look good and I took a few pictures.
The sound and sight of the rushing water was quite spectacular.


Later that week I took some time and did this preliminary rendering of what a bridge might look like there, to use in promotional material to advertise the special October bridge building event. I just went back in my files and found this picture and am pleased to see that it's not that far off what it actually ended up looking like. The volume of water in both pictures is about the same.

Maybe the rails on the drawing are not the same and the arch is not as flat as the one we ended up building but everything else is pretty much water under the bridge.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The hands of time.



Even mortared stone walls when built correctly, meaning built structurally, the way dry stone walls have to be constructed, can withstand great upheaval and various calamities. This old ruin (a modern ruin by British standards) shows how masonry structures, having solid walls which are built stone-upon-stone, are able to last.

The 150 year old house on Isaac Rd near Roseneath Ontario has walls that still stand proud even after fire and time and weather have attacked it. What's more, these same stones (like those in dry stone walls ) can be used again in some other stone structure, instead of having to buy a lot of new material.


We changed our clocks yesterday here in Canada. We moved them ahead one hour. Don't ask me where that hour went. It's just gone until next winter when we turn the clocks back again and presumably we find it again.

I wish we could turn back the hands of time the same way and return to a day when skilled stone masonry flourished here in Canada.

Hopefully the resurgence of interest in proper dry stone walling which we are starting to witness here in Canada will begin to shed some 'daylight' on a time and tradition worth savouring if it can't be 'saved'.



Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's all water under the bridge.


Was thinking today with my hands about what a lot of work it is to build a dry stone bridge. Here is an amazing picture of the beautiful bridge DSWA Mastercraftsman Norman Haddow built in Scotland about ten years ago. The burn (Scottish word for creek) is in flood and actually going around the bridge, yet it stands firm and unmoving 6 years later. The fact that it is not made of solid concrete and can let some water through it must contribute to its strength against the force of the water.

I thought too of the amount of time and effort and stone that went into building Cornish Hollow Bridge, a small roman arch dry stone bridge which DSWAC members constructed in July of 2007 north of Cobourg Ontario. This bridge was the second one we built after having Norman Haddow come here from Scotland and teach us about bridge construction at Hill and Dale B&B in Port Hope Ontario where ten members of the DSWAC built a six foot span dry stone packhorse bridge. Leigh Bamford and I were involved in both bridge projects.

We used up over 40 tons of stone in the building of Cornish Hollow bridge which had a whopping 12 foot span. That's a lot material. In comparison, however I was considering the amount of water that has gone under it since the day it was built over four years ago.



This represents a huge volume, as you can see the bridge is actually built in a flood plane and sometimes in spring run off water has to go around it as well. And yet even with it having had so much water go under it , if were it to fall down, even in say, the next fifty years, that wouldn't have been enough water, would it ? The life time of the bridge would still have been too short for the volume of water that the builders expected would flow under it. The bridge would not be considered to have been a success either.

Even though the bridge may have done a great job and allowed water to flow unobstructed and unnoticed, it would still not be enough water to not make a big thing about it 'not lasting'.

I think that it is fair to say however that concerning bridges, if we were going to use an expression like 'that's all water under the bridge' we should be referring to a long enough lapse of time (relative to the normal lifetime of a properly built bridge, perhaps) so that certain things we have done or said in the past that we were hoping to merely 'dismiss', reflects an understanding of just how much time and water we are talking about.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Regrouping


Life is about regrouping - putting things back together.

It's basic mass.

It's about carrying and carrying on. Its about addition and subtraction.

Its about caring and being cared for.

It seems the stuff of life needs to be broken down again and again and then, rearranged.

The breaking down can be exhilarating or devastatingly painful.

The building up can be creative or completely draining.

The basic elements are lying scattered all around in various forms of three-dimensional matter.

In the rubble we discover some of the lowest common denominators.

The parts are smaller than any fraction of the whole.

The particles will settle eventually and then start the process of rearranging themselves.

They invite us to join them. And rejoin them in a basic rebuilding process.

They are the real stuff of life.

The challenge becomes determining what else is real, and then putting those pieces back together too.

Regrouping is about life.

Friday, March 11, 2011

This is the fork in the road


Productivity comes from interactivity and the exchange of ideas and talents.

People are happiest when they're encouraged and trusted.

An airport functions far better when we don't strip search passengers. Tiffany's may post guards at the door, but the salespeople are happy to let you hold priceless jewels. Art museums let you stand close enough to paintings to see them. Restaurants don't charge you until after you eat.

Compare this environment of trust with the world that Paypal has to live in. Every day, thousands of mobsters in various parts of the world sit down intent on scamming the company out of millions of dollars. If the site makes one mistake, permits just one security hole to linger, they're going to be taken for a fortune. As a result, the company isn't just paranoid--they know that people really are out to get them.

This is the fork in the road that just about all of us face, whether as individuals or organizations. We have to make an assumption about whether people are going to steal our ideas, break their promises, void their contracts and steal from us, or perhaps, that people are basically honest, trustworthy and generous. It's very hard to have both postures simultaneously. I have no idea how those pistol-packing guys in the movies ever get a good night's sleep.

In just about every industry (except electronic money transfer, apparently), assuming goodwill is not only more productive, it's also likely to be an accurate forecast.

Trust pays.


( Reposted from 'Seths' blog yesterday Assuming goodwill)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Walltercation

Can you imagine coming across a 'meeting' like this one. We discovered it Cumbria hiking from the Olde Dungeon Ghyll in Great Langdale to Little Langdale along the ridge of Lingmoor Fell

There they were, all the stone-faced constituents, gathered in a big stand-off. The 'joint' was completely silent. The entire length of the 'meeting' continued to rise in a kind of suspended line of tension. Neither side was backing down. Some of the really hard-liners in the both conglomerations refused to budge, even on the lowest levels. They were a rough looking bunch - cold and immovable.

Some of the more miserable ones had actually fallen out! Some stopped just short of making the others appear to be 'missing the mark'. Only a few had even tried to take a different 'slant' on things. But clearly there was a noticeable 'split'. Presumably there was an issue over some imperceptible difference in technique. This schism, where these structures still continued to confront each other, had evidently lasted for many years.

Perhaps it was a dispute involving jurisdiction. Maybe they couldn't 'meet' on some now long forgotten issue. Although it is hard to see any difference in the two, it seems neither side wanted to 'touch' on any area of compromise. Neither side was willing to 'merge'.

The two appeared to be equally as important, equally as 'correct'. Looking along both directions and putting some perspective on it, it's evident they both have a long line of support behind them. And both sides are actually still doing a great job! Although neither side has much contact with the other, both sides of the wall seem connected by a single genuine commitment to a strong structural dry stone walling tradition.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Twelve stones high

I recently received an update from Brian Wood about the completed workshop wall that Andy Geekie worked on in Yorkshire, an event which Andy wrote about and I posted on Thinking With My Hands last Thursday. Very interestingly this dry stone wall that was built by students in a public place as a permanent feature. Here is the article that Brian, of the Yorkshire Dry Stone Walling Guild, sent.

- This wall was built in April/May 2010 as a rather different training exercise by a 40 strong team combining tutors and members of the Yorkshire Dry Stone Walling Guild, with student groups attending three dedicated training courses. One student, a member of the Dry Stone Walling Association (Canada), came as a part of his UK holiday. The job was commissioned to enclose a new plant sales area at the Visitor Centre to the World Heritage site of Fountains Abbey near Ripon, Yorkshire.

The finished wall is 23 metres long and stands 1.82 metres high from base to top. Built in the traditional Yorkshire manner with projecting through stones, it contains about 60 tonnes of newly quarried sandstone supplied from Ravensworth Sandstone Quarry near Scotch Corner. The task took ten days and some 500 man hours to complete.

A small detail not visible in the photographs is a built in duct under the wall to carry rainwater from the building roof to a future water harvesting tank in the amphitheatre depression outside the wall. This feature had to be bridged, as can be seen, in the early phases of the construction for safety reasons and to help with the problem of reduced access height on that side. It was removed as soon as the wall had advanced beyond, it actually made access to the wall rather limited as well.

The National Trust’s structural engineer was concerned that the excavations for the footings seemed inadequate, simply prepared as is usual for a dry stone wall. We reassured him that this method has served such walls satisfactorily for centuries and also calculated the ground loading at the base of the wall. It was remarkably low with a figure of about 2.5 pounds per square foot; about the same as that exerted by a 12 stone man on his feet!!

There were then no further concerns and the project proceeded with his blessing.-



Monday, March 7, 2011

The Handy String-Line


We always use string-lines when we are building a straight wall. Always. We tell our students to use them and teach them how to use them. To think that people can build straight without them is pretty crazy. We occasionally, to get round something or access a tricky spot may remove a section temporarily or we may untie them to move a lot of stone across to the other side of the wall, but essentially these lines have to be there while we are building and they are in fact essential in the process of building a good straight wall.

And you can't just put them up and ignore them. A student has to know what he's looking for. He has to be able to line up his stones according to the level and plane that these string-lines are tracing. You have to check and keep checking them. And they can't be set up wrong or attached to loose batter frames or aligned incorrectly.

We have two ways of putting up lines. They can both be very useful. The first requires putting up one line either side of the wall, up to each level you are working to. When this level is completed the lines are raised to the next level. This is very good for doing walls with all the same heights of coursing. It makes it very easy. It helps too if you are creating, or in some cases recreating (repairing) a random coursed wall. However it does make it difficult to have several students working on the wall at the same time. There is inevitably always someone inadvertently leaning into or pulling back the guide lines while someone else is trying to sight down them.

Sometimes the solution to this problem, especially if you are building in a more random coursed style or working with more irregular shaped material, is the second method of setting up string lines – a method that I learned from Patrick McAfee a terrific walling instructor, heritage masonry author and stone and lime mortar expert from Ireland.

You set up two pairs of lines well above the height everyone is working. This way you can sight down onto the two lines, line them up and maintain the plane and batter of the wall with each stone you place with its face aligned along the same plane defined by these lines. All the while people can still be leaning over the wall or moving stones and not disturbing your sighting. Closing one eye and taking care to fit each stone properly you can keep all the stones faces flush with the wall along three dimensions.

It is still important to step back occasionally to ensure that the stones are all running level and horizontally along each section of random coursing and that you are still covering your joints all the time.