Thursday, July 1, 2010

Saluting the flag.

It seems appropriate to honour the flagstone industry today by combining the flag of Canada with the 'flag' of patios paths and pool surrounds. Most wallers, masons and landscapers in Canada have at some time or other had to do flagwork. Often this kind of work is where they first start out handling and shaping natural stone. Later they might go on to build stone retaining walls and traditional free-standing dry stone walls, or they may just stay with it as a full-time occupation. With their backs to the burning sun, awkwardly crouched down, painstakingly shaping and chiselling the contours of the stones so that the joints are all a consistent width, ( and with no ugly 'sawn' edges ) many a patriotic flagstone 'craftsperson' has helped raise the standard of flagstone across the nation.

'Flatwork' is a term used for doing phony flagstone, out of poured concrete that has been stamped and then stained. Sounds awful, doesnt it? Contractors are trying to make it look like real flagstone, but eventally, after time, it looks like what it really is - a manufactured aggregate portland cement product.

I like to think that doing the real thing in a garden with natural flagstone creates a much higher standard.

In terms of actually raising the flag material, we have done that too. Here is a clip (below) of dry stone 'wallers' from all over the world raising a large piece of flag at our Canadian Dry Stone Wall Festival last year. The thick 6 inch slab of flag was slid up and over, to be used as a lintel stone over the window of the traditional dry laid Scottish Blackhouse we completed over the three day 'Rocktoberfest' here in Canada. This October we will be building a dry stone bridge over a babbling creek near 1000 Islands at Rockport Ontario in Landon Park on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.

Meanwhile this Canada day we should stand and raise our 'hands' to salute the men and women who are laying flagstone every day and laying it properly. When it's done right it can look beautiful and last for many years.

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