Monday, May 23, 2011

The Cheese Process

About 6 months ago a rather mean spirited colleague of mine took it upon himself to discredit me by uploading poor photos onto his walling blog that he took of something I had designed and had the opportunity of building 5 years ago at the horticultural school in Niagara Falls, along with several volunteer students and 4 volunteer wallers. We were asked to do something unique out of the stones they had on site at the park during the three days of the Niagara Garden Show. We were honoured to be asked and excited to do something for the school that was not going to have to be taken down after the show. Often we build things at garden and highland events that are very structural agreeing to take them down afterwards, even though people tell us they wish that the walls could be left there for their friends and family who missed the event so they could come and see later.

Our idea this time was to create something unusual that would generate even more interest in dry stone walling in Canada by showing a new aspect of what could be done than just walls. While the whole event was a great success and the much loved 'Cheese Wedge' still remained the pride of the school, it was starting to look like it was going to need a bit of restoring. Frankly we suspected this would be the case and have been monitoring it since it was first built. Last year 4, years after it was built when I went to inspect it, it still looked in mint condition. The picture below shows the condition it was in 2 months ago when I visited it again. It certainly didn't look as if any part of it was about to fall down. However we decided to make arrangements to have it repaired.

We had really stretched ourselves with the original cheese wedge project at the Niagara Botanical Gardens and knew we were pushing the envelope back in 2006. For this reason a site was decided upon that was out of the main foot traffic and it was understood that if or when the structure began to look the worse for wear, we would gladly come back and tend to it - which we in fact we did last weekend.

It had been worth it for the amount of interest it generated and the number of students and visitors who have since marveled at the structure and been intrigued to learn more about this method of construction.

Interestingly when I initiated the idea to the school of taking down the cheese wedge and suggested doing something different, less ambitious instead, the school wrote back to say they preferred that the existing Cheese Wedge be merely 'reinstated' as it was so unique and drew so much interest. I realized that the abuse the wedge had suffered was more in my own mind due to reading some naysayer's post than from any significant structural defects. Obviously the aging cheese ( like real cheese) was not seen as some big failure or the few signs of showing a bit of 'wear and tear' as anything to be criticized.

Tomorrow and the next I will continue this story of the cheese wedge and the recent workshop we ran in conjunction with the Niagara Horticultural School this May 24 weekend at which time several of us gathered again and successfully restored it without any great fuss.

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