Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rethinking and Rebuilding

The aged cheese wedge - June 11, 2006
Picture taken May 21, 2011

The newly restored cheese wedge - May 24, 2011.

Am I disappointed that the original cheese wedge had some settling issues? Of course I am. Do I regret having attempted to build it? Not at all.

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

The restoration was as rewarding as the original build. There have been lots of other pluses along the way too. Having seen that it has lasted as long as it did, we were able to make some important changes based on what we learned and so were able to rebuild it even better. It is gratifying too that not just the same stones but the original concept could be actually reused.

What would we have learned if we never tried to build the cheese wedge? Nothing.

What did we learn by committing our selves to doing it?

- That the project was actually possible and successful on many levels. Rather than discrediting the profession of walling, the structure inspired and in its new state still continues to inspire all who come to see it.
- That it lasted well for 5 years without any maintenance.
- That when we rebuilt it, we will were able to make something that will presumably last even longer.
- That the design worked. Though it looked like a challenging design and though it had never been done before we had every confidence it was something that was worth trying.
- That beauty, even though it sometimes ends up being a bit more transitory is still worth striving for because of its power to lift the soul
- That good can come from having attempted something as unusual as this dry stone structure, even though along the way it may require some maintenance.
- That unplanned rearrangements of stones sometimes happen to give opportunities for people to work together again (rather than just criticize each other) and share new insights, and further encourage each other's creative skills and so experientially come to grips with structural constraints that we could only try to imagine before.


  1. Three cheers for the rebuild gang and a great way of looking at the situation John. The whole things is like a metaphor of how things often go in life. I can think of a bunch of cliches to fit the situation but "live and learn" will suffice.

  2. danp- your neighbor from the southMay 25, 2011 at 6:31 AM

    Makes me draw parallels with my former profession of packaging engineer- designing protection for foods and other products to ensure they survive the rigors of distribution and storage while communicating info (marketing aspects). It often involved trial and error to perfect the right "recipe" of structural material that looked just right to the marketing geeks. The stone cheese wedge perhaps spoiled from some unknown force and had to be repackaged with newly devised structures while still communicating it's artistic message. Maybe a kooky analogy but it makes me philosophical.

  3. Congratulations on the reformation of the cheese wedge and to how it came to be - a great success!

  4. Not kooky at all, Dan. I think they are good observations and helpful analogies. And thanks too Chris for your vote of confidence.

  5. To complain about a simple criticism, OK.
    But to complain about a 'valid' criticism (which you validated with the rebuilding the wedge) is rather disingenuous. We should fix the mistakes (we are all going to make in life) and move on.

  6. Ah yes, that would have been a good point Anon, had the criticism been a valid and fair assessment of the situation. To publicly post a description of the cheese wedge inaccurately saying, "One would not dare touch it for fear of failure and total collapse" and go on to criticize the intent and skill of those who built it, in this case is more than inappropriate, it is false. The fact is lots of things eventually need fixing. It rarely means they are bad things to begin with, or even badly built. Even though the cheese wedge needed some reinstating, and now in fact, stands 'corrected', it was doing well structurally and didn't deserve that kind of discrediting.

    Those whose criticisms have been revealed to be grossly unfounded and malicious need to show a bit more 'structural integrity' and be willing to 'stand corrected' themselves. Let them fix their mistakes first, before they cause more damage and move on.

  7. I think it's a wonderful structure. May it's beauty last a long time to come.