Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's a small wall after all.

I was making Christmas presents for friends and family last week. I figure, what better gift can you give someone than something that you've made yourself? Moreover, what says 'I love you' more than a dry stone wall? Hence, I have ventured into building miniature dry stone walls again. This time I have a heavy duty dry stone wall glue gun, not just an amateur  'unofficial' one!  

The tiny stones I collected over the past few years were fragments painstakingly gathered from the ground at various walling sites I've worked at where life-size stones were being shaped. These shards are proving to be perfect for doing some nice delicate free-standing walls.

There are a lot of similarities between building walls on a miniature scale and full scale versions, but obviously there are some very striking differences as well. 
Tiny stones, while weighing proportionately less than big ones, seem to lose that all important gripping aspect more exponentially. Stones carefully balanced and even well fitted together have surprisingly little locking power. One might be tempted to think smaller stones could still be configured to hold together as well as the bigger ones in real dry stone walls regardless of their difference in weight. Not so. In fact, building anything structural becomes very difficult. 

Let's consider how this translates if were are building a real wall. While it is tempting to think it would be a lot easier to build any wall if stones in general didn't weigh as much as they do, in real life, it turns out if they were lighter it would be almost impossible. They would never bond properly. While most stones have basically three main properties, weight, hardness and roughness - it becomes strikingly obvious in wall building ( on any scale ) that 'heaviness' is an extremely important factor. 

Next week, let's consider other aspects of mini walling such as hearting, batter, types of tools needed and material/site accessibility. Another question worth exploring is - what helps make a miniature wall look convincingly realistic? Things like - keeping your finger out of the picture.


  1. John,
    I tried it once, building minature dry stone walls and discovered it was equally if not more difficult than building real walls. You have to find all the components that occur in a real wall, throughs, copes, quoins etc.

    Then you quickly realise as you say that stability has a lot to do with weight and because you dont have this then glue must be used. The only glue I had available was too thin. I retreated thinking I would return to it again some day with a thicker glue but alas have never done so. Thicker glue will act as a mortar though so it is'nt really a dry stone walling anymore!

  2. HI ! What type of glue gun / sticks did you find to be success
    ful keeping things together?
    That's a very charming miniature wall.