Monday, February 27, 2012

A keen new Canadian waller.

John Bland is a graduate of the Heritage Masonry course at Algonquin College in Perth Ontario where John Scott (a consultant with the DSWAC) has been the chief instructor. After gaining essential walling skills at this renown Canadian institute he attended a couple Canadian workshops, one being at our 2011 Rocktoberfest  in Caledon Ontario. With these hands on experiences, just a little less than year ago, he began work on this wall in Quebec. 

It's interesting to see the calibre of workmanship John displays and note that this is the result of good training, and obviously an enthusiastic response to the examples he has seen and the possibilities there is for walling in Canada, as well as his openness to participating in walling events here and a dedication to personally applying his skills at getting better. These are all aspects of Canadian walling which we as organization have been encouraging from our inception in Canada more than 9 years ago, and not in fact the product of any particular certification scheme.

John Bland is working on a wall for his parents in the west island of Montreal.  It's going to be an 80 foot long wall with a gate in the middle. His parents gave him the green light to build 'something outrageous' that incorporated everything he had learned, and had told him they were not in a hurry. 

"Thank god," He added in a recent letter to me.
"I started the project last march working only on weekends. I thought I would be able to get it done by winter that way. By mid summer I saw that my time estimate was way off. The project eventually consumed me.  In October I quit my job to try and put a satisfying dent in it before winter came. I managed to get one section about 80 percent finished." 

The stone is Covey Hill sandstone from a quarry called Ducharme. It comes from the eastern townships of Quebec. There are two colors. A dark blue which he uses for the cheek ends, copes and jumpers and a grey for the runners and snecks. 

"When the wall gets wet in the rain the colors really come out."

John says building is tricky. When he gets an idea in his head he tries hard to make it come alive. He admits to being a little obsessive compulsive. And realizes that this is both a good and a bad thing. 

"My work looks good but it takes a while for me to be satisfied. It's mostly John Scott's fault ha ha. He taught me all these rules for stone bonding and I think I may have taken him a little too seriously."

He goes on to say that he needs to learn more about what's okay and what's not okay in terms of each stones amount of depth into the wall. 

"I ended up 3/4 'throughing' everything as well as using through stones every meter. There is only one tracer I put in purposely just to see what might happen.. It's more towards the top of the wall In case I need to do a repair.  When both sides of the wall are complete I'm going to ask the city if I can do an arch going over the entrance way. Well see..  I still have a lot to learn. 

People pass by all the time and talk to me like I'm some kind of pro dry stone waller. I tell them I'm a beginner and I don't really know what I'm doing ha ha. More workshops!  "