Saturday, July 10, 2010

Put on a 'Happy Face'

There's nothing wrong with sitting on fence now and then, especially a dry stone one. When faced with opposing walling ideologies sometimes it's best to keep as many gates open as you can. This may necessitate rejecting the pressure to become a 'Course Mason' (one who builds in courses and badmouths those who don't) while still avoiding the structural mistakes of the random 'Cheek-end Warrior'.

A skilled waller will discover a middle path where pre-stacked palleted stone are not required for their walls to look proper and/or be 'politically correct'. They will also love what they are doing enough to always be trying to get better at it, but not at the cost of making the whole process not only expensive but onerous. They try to use the stones available to them, rather than be dependent on uniform-bed sized stones that can usually only be purchased from stone supply companies.
Like conscientious food consumers who prefer happy meat (meat that isn't factory farmed) these wallers prefer 'happy stones' - ones with natural faces, usually if possible found locally or salvaged or at least acquired inexpensively.

A processed or shrink-wrapped 'product' isn't the traditional stuff of 'authentic' dry stone walls anyway. Good dry stone wallers don't buy into the lie that stones need to be specially hand-picked, graded, squared, sawn or 'faced' before they can be used in a 'regulation' wall.

Quarries too, rather than casting off or burying stone 'tailings', are discovering a clientele in Canada who may not be able to afford modular stones suitable only for textbook walls, but will appreciate this less expensive walling material, which generally is of little value to those in the 'professional' stone industry. Frugal wallers know how to work with such 'leftovers' and don't require expensive 'high end' stones to build a good looking wall. They do magic with common stones because what they are building is not necessarily an 'industry standard' but the structural equivalent of damn good meal.


  1. Excellent commentary John. I suspect very few of our original walls were built with material brought in from afar and sorted.

  2. Thanks John. Interesting that the word "original" is actually a 'contronym'. Ironically one can be 'original' both by doing and not doing something the 'traditional' way. Canadian wallers should try to be really 'original' and so build 'original' walls where we steer clear of industry standards including relying on palleted 'highly-processed' stone material.