Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Walling in the rain.

The festival atmosphere was barely dampened by the hurricane winds and endless rain yesterday.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Like a Festival

Original old walls stretching nearly a kilometer on both sides of Balsam Lake Road to explore in the mornings and at the end of the day. 

Great lunches provided by our host

Relaxing hot tub and beer for tired wallers with more walls in the background

Celebratory roast beef and roast ham evening feasts

Plenty of stone and a weeks worth of walling fun with a happy gathering of old friends!
Kenny announced to everyone after supper, "It's just like a festival !"

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Laidlaw Stone

Well over a hundred years ago this large stone sign was set in place in the dry stone wall bordering the Laidlaw property up at Balsam Lake Ontario. The three dogs were the family pets.

After having been tipped over sometime since then and after years of neglect, the sign was resurrected out of the earth by myself and others attending one of the first  DSWAC training
sessions in Canada nearly 12 years ago. It was leaned back up against an old section of wall that had been badly repaired back in the 80s. 

In 2011 a full scale repair to that part of the wall was taken on by my crew and the Laidlaw stone was built back into the wall. The name had faded and was to be painted back on after our work was completed. We are going back there next week and I am eager to see how it looks.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

History in the remaking

Next week we are off to do some more much needed repairs to the 150 year old dry stone walls just south off highway 48 on Balsam Lake Road.

George Laidlaw, who lived from 1828 to 1889, commissioned these walls for his Fort Ranch property on the western shore of Balsam Lake. He raised sheep and cattle there which he imported from Scotland. Laidlaw, who originally came from Scotland, was a prosperous grain merchant and a promoter of narrow gauge railways. In 1880, Laidlaw commissioned a Scottish stonemason, Mr. Scott, to build the dry stone walls on Balsam Lake Road. Employing local labourers and horses pulling stone boats, Scott methodically and skillfully built more than 10,000 feet of wall.

150 years later, a lot of those walls are still standing and looking beautiful as ever.
(These 2 photos of one section of wall from the same angle were taken over 100 years apart ) 

The last time we did any major work repairing some of these historic walls was back in May of 2010.
Akira, Menno, Evan, Joe and I did about 100 feet of wall.

'The Boulder Dash'

Here's a photo of Menno laying out the huge foundation stones on that first Monday in May. He worked very quickly . 

Dan Snow writes in his blog

"The mending of old dry stone walls lies at the heart of the walling trade. It’s often where the beginner waller cuts his or her teeth in the craft. An old wall is a lesson book waiting to be opened. It teaches correct methods of construction by example, and offers many cautionary tales with full-color illustrations. Chapter by chapter, the story of a derelict wall section unfolds in reverse as it’s dismantled."

I value the opportunity to be working with another great crew of guys again this year at Balsam Lake. I suspect there will be more lessons to be learned from these historic, unpretentious, almost coarse (but not coursed) permanent livestock containment walls.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Stone Furniture at 'Inspiration Green'

Came across an interesting blog yesterday with a good compilation of some cleverly designed (and built) stone benches and tables. Great to see Jason H's and Sunny W's work here, as well as work by Lou French and other talented rock stars.
Weedle bench by
Sunny Wieler of Stone Art, Cork, Ireland.

Artistic free-standing wall and bench with turf top called The Wonky Wall, Collessie, Fife.

Monday, April 21, 2014


The earth hopes every soul eventually joins in the dance of living stones 
within the henge of enlightenment 

Images by John Shaw-Rimmington

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A dry stone wall makes a great place for hiding Easter eggs!

Farley so wants to help out in the Easter egg hunt.

Can you see any more Grandad ?

This one is way back inside the wall.

End of 'The Hunt'

Farley dreaming about having a basket of yummy chocolates too?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Shady Art

How about a dry stone feature that creates a figurative shadow on the landscape ?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dry Stone Walls in the Future

The year is 2415. 400 years after a virus wiped out half of the world’s population, the people that survived the virus now live in Bragna, a fortified city that is surrounded by walls isolating the people from the virus infested rest of the world. Released in 2005 Aeonflux is an action movie based on a video game by the same name . 

From the looks of this film it's likely defensive walling is going to last into the future.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Shrinking dog house?

Is it me or is Farley's dog house is getting smaller? I'm told he's still a puppy and will be growing for another 8 months. I may have to build him a new one.

Monday, April 14, 2014


When a total lunar eclipse occurs the sun, the Earth and the moon are in perfect alignment so that the Earth’s shadow completely covers the surface of the moon.

Early this coming Tuesday morning Canadians from coast to coast will get a chance to view a total lunar eclipse — the first of four that will occur nearly every six months.

By coincidence, Mars' closest approach to Earth occurs on the same night as that total lunar eclipse. The planet should be easy to spot in the constellation Virgo, while the moon, just a few degrees south, is in total eclipse as seen from North America. Spectacular !

Just what is it about 'alignment' anyway ? There is such a great 'rightness' about things that 'line up'. 

I've been a professional mason restoring stone and brickwork, and building walls for over 35 years now, and I'm still fascinated with it. I'm curious too about the pleasure we get from seeing structures arranged in a line, with the surfaces of things like bricks and stones being flush along a wall.  Whenever I go somewhere my eye is always squinting to align corners, planes and angles to see if they are parallel or plumb, and perfectly - 'in line'. When they don't, it's annoying. When they do, there is an inexplicable satisfaction.

And do you not think too, that a perfectly straight dry stone wall somehow creates the best kind of heavenly alignment between us humans and the basic elementary material of this world - rocks ? 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

MacPaint 1984 !

Apple turned 30 years old this year.

MacPaint was a dynamic on screen graphic program that ran on the original Macintosh 128 computer back in 1984. I was fortunate to have my father in law hand me down his old Mac 128 after he had bought a newer Mac. That would have been 1985. 

For me (and for many of us back then) the concept of being able to 'draw' on a TV screen using a plastic device pushed around on a foam pad was mind blowing! 

MacPaint was the program that started the whole digital imagery revolution. I spent hours and hours applying square pixels, connecting dots and painting with black and white patterned textures to make what now look like pretty primitive pictures. But what a joy to be able to go back there again.

Read about a new online reproduction of that original MacPaint 1 program here.

How many readers remember this image ?

Back in 1985 we were living on a 150 acre farm in Cannington Ontario. This was our barn.  I painstakingly 'drew' it back then on my Macintosh computer screen from a non digital camera photograph using that original  MacPaint program.  I remember applying, erasing and reapplying all the dots in the image above. I think it took me more than one evening.

Just for fun I tried to draw a dry stone wall yesterday on the new Cloudpaint /MacPaint. I think I've forgotten a lot.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Revisiting the Pizza Oven

Had a chance last February to see the oven John Scott and I built in California three years ago.

Matt starts it with a flame thrower

It fires up pretty sweet.

Patti made up some great toppings for the family and all the guests

Mmm mmm !

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Make Walls, Not Trouble

The camouflage used on armoured tanks like this P-51 was unique to Malta where apparently there are thousands of dry stone walls scattered throughout the island. The photo reminds me of a 'closed' group I keep hearing nasty reports about.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ever considered there's more than one side ?

How many stories can someone construct on Facebook until others start to realize there's a whole other side to them?

The other title I wanted to use for this post was -  What's not to 'like'.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Taylor MacDonald

Taylor runs a successful walling and masonry buisness out of Ottawa called Solid Masonry. He's got a fine website  full of useful information and glowing testimonials. Right now his company is looking to hire some more wallers for a new project he is doing there.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Detours may take us a bit out of the way but they help us avoid all kinds of terribly dreary construction.

Creativity often has to do with taking detours. We see new things along the way. We make associations and then, if we're not too dismissive, we join them.  To reject them is to be left mostly with just copying other's ideas and sometimes even posting pics of other people's work. 

I looked at someones blog yesterday (this,now their latest website of several over the years) and saw some of my stuff there again and thought, 'oh well', I still think I've benefited more from having been the one who took the creative detours and came up with the ideas. 

Originality will always bypass the more middle-of-the-road approach to doing things. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Bed and Breakfast Arch

Bed and Breakfast Arch
Completed by an amicable collection of  DSWAC members and guests during Rocktoberfest 2004

There is something about an old stone ruin
There is something about new ruins too
They speak a kind of depth to the soul
Creating depth in four dimensions
Pre-aged Architectural Sculpture ?
The art of making you feel you've stepped back in time
Or been there before
Or want to have been there before...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Give your terrain that touch of authenticity

I found this image (and the links below) while searching cyberspace for artistic mossy rocks. If you have time you should download Unity3d and take a lovely simulated walk in the countryside. 

Once again it seems dry stone walls can add so much, not just to real property, but even virtual reality.

Anyway, here is what they say about it....

"Give your terrain that touch of authenticity with this beautiful, rugged dry stone wall. Use it with or without leafy vines. Works great in a variety of settings, from lush green countryside to bleak forbidding landscape.

Package contains:
* Six modular wall sections: small, medium and large, each plain or with vines.
* Two LOD levels for each mesh.
* Materials with high res textures using diffuse and normal maps.
* Prefabs for each wall section, with collision.
* A demo scene is also included.

See an example of the dry stone wall in use at Summer's Day interactive landscape. (Press Shift for “instant travel” and click on the Ivy Walk icon.)