Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dry Stone Shape Rings A Buddha Bell

The bell-shaped structure we built in Toronto last weekend reminded some of us of stupa bells ( Buddhist commemorative monuments usually housing sacred relics associated with the Buddha or other saintly persons) like the ones at Borabador, a world heritage site on the Island of Java in Indonesiaat Borabador .

The similarities came about quite by coincidence. However we came upon the reminiscent interesting 'perforated' design for three reasons.

First, since we were building this thing only to be seen the one night of Nuit Blanche we needed it to be lit up effectively, and it seemed a good idea to have it radiating light out of the centre of the hollow bell by creating 'wider spaces' between adjoining stones in each course of stacked stones.

Second we wanted to build as big a structure as we could with the 13 tons of stone we brought to the site (that's a lot of stone to move build and take down in less than 8 hours !) and by spreading the stones, we used up less material, to ensure we would reach our 9 foot high goal for the bell.

Third and most important, by straddling stones that had a fist sized (or even foot sized) gaps between them we increased the stability of the straddling stones above rather than them having a tendency to pivot on stones below, because often their slightly differing heights make them more difficult to bring to level when they are butted up closer to each other. I had to keep telling people to spread the stones further apart and felt like I was teaching a dry stone wall course called Walling minus 101. It definitely felt like 'anti-walling' ( since it was hard to get some of the wallers to build in this different style at first) but it was necessary in the case of us trying to build something this sturdy in the short time we allotted ourselves.

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