Thursday, May 13, 2010

Experimenting with your hands.

People shouldn't be afraid of stones. They shouldn't be intimidated either by people who call themselves masons or experts. They shouldn't stop from experimenting and practicing and working with stones every chance they get to build and shape and organize and arrange stones in pleasing arrangements. Discover how structural they are. Take a course if you need to. If you get a chance to actually learn and get some hands-on practice with someone who is experienced in creating landscape features, such as walls of benches or stiles and arches, you may really benefit and actually be surprised what you can learn, and how satisfying it is.

It's not rocket science. It is a lot of fun and the basics are not so specialized that it should exclude people from rediscovering that primeval connection we all have to stones from the beginning of time.

I am disappointed with those who would have others kept in the dark about these elementary things and trying to hinder people from even wanting to find out about the many wonderful aspects of creating with something natural as stone. Leave the concrete and steel structures for the experts. Build something real, something simple and at the same time hug some stones.

Synthetic materials are bombarding us from every direction. Our contact with stone by contrast is getting more and more scarce. Pick some up while it is still lying around for 'lay people' to work with. Lay some, one on top of the other, and handle it and then use it in configurations as you see fit on your property and in your garden. Start with something simple. Let the stones speak to you.

Perhaps take a workshop or a seminar. Look around and see where stones are being used creatively, effectively and without any pretension ( hopefully somewhere in your area) and start to learn more about what is possible. If you can find books or people knowledgeable in using this basic material and doing cool things with the stones (who aren't hung up on hiding the basic rules of masonry from people who dont want to join some secret or elite club) and try to learn all you can from them.

How else will you know if you want to devote yourself to learning this honourable and very timeless craft?


  1. Well said! Since back in olden days simple farmers and sheep herders have been clearing fields and stacking stones into walls. These non-walling professionals somehow built walls that stand proudly to this day in the middle of the woods here in Upstate New York, USA- in places where the house, barn, and farm have long ago succumbed to the elements.

  2. Well put Dan.
    If we learn all we can about how to build them, and keep asking questions, and keep doing it applying all we learn, there is a good chance our walls will stay up a good long time too.