Monday, March 5, 2012

Andrew Currie

Andrew Currie is a 60 year old Scottish dry stone waller and stone mason who lives on a horse farm with his wife Rebecca Currie, raising a breed called 'Canadians' on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, his home since 1979. He received much of his training working on the family farm in Argyle Scotland where Andrew and his brother used to help their father "gap" , making repairs to the dry stone walls which had been damaged, primarily by vehicles

I had been taken to see his walls during a trip I made to BC  teaching DSWAC workshops at Glendale Gardens in Victoria. I asked Andrew about the beautiful wall he built at the south end of Salt Spring Island near Beaver Point on Reynolds Road.

"We started that in 2000 and had it finished  before the end of the following year . I remember we were three quarters through it when the big earthquake hit Seattle, our cups of tea were jiggling, and we said , What the hell? We'd felt Shakers before but nothing like that"

"There were 50 tons of cap stones at least on that wall, and how long was it? Oh God, it must have been at least 250 feet long and consumed over 400 tons of stone."
Andrew explained that the footings were all stone chipped base, one foot deep, dug down to the hard pan. No material was purchased or brought to the island for the massive project ; all the stone was found on the 120 acre property. The finished wall contains huge boulders,  many of which had to be split with feather and wedges, or 'gone to' with a stone axe and  round granite rocks and lovely squarish chunks of sandstone.

"We used any stone, really. I call it using the 'stone of opportunity' . We used the tractor to move it all, and we used everything we found, and we needed  a lot for hearting. It's a pain in the ass to have to make hearting stone, but it is the most important part of the wall."
"Hearting is often the left over stuff  after a stone has been shaped, it is used for packing the inside of the wall, and slices of hearting actually had to be made he recalls. The wall itself is 7 foot 6 inches  tall and winds its way through a beautiful garden property. It is rewarding to study closely as the lengthy wall contains many interesting features."

"Butterflies! Yes, we'd split granite and it looked so beautiful. Holy crow, we'd say, don't  they look like butterflies. So we decided to build the winged shapes into the wall. Doing it structurally of course. We added windows, a niche here and there, flowers and whatever came to our imaginations. "

Andy went on to say that his clients were incredible. It seems Andrew was allowed to let his hands and his creativity take flight, quite literally.

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