Sunday, June 19, 2016

Putting our heart into it

Michael Clasen and Stephen Mattera from Vermont busy at the hearting; completed layer of hearting;

Sean reflects on the last week of work up at Opus 40, and vegetarian cuisine.

"The caps are finally going on, I’ll talk more about them in the final update in a couple of days when we’ve finished.   Progress in last few days has been slow, preparing for the caps is fiddly and not least because of the amount of hearting required.  Early on we were effectively “cladding” or “veneering”  the waste heap and albeit with a 3-4 feet thick veneer.  As we near the top we have 5 feet depth (into wall)  of hearting in places.  In any structure the hearting is crucial, in a wide tool retaining wall especially so.  It not only locks the back of the building stones in place, it provides the base for pinning/wedging the tails of longer building stones, and ultimately supports the tails of these stones.  It is as important as the building of the face, and where becomes the bulk of the build it takes longer than the face work, but it cannot be seen and there is a tendency for workers to concentrate on the face-work and then rush the hearting.  People forget that all the principles that apply to face stones also apply to the hearting for example most should be placed length in, there should be good fits, do not use two stones where one will do, keep the stones level, and cross joints- not just as an afterthought, do not liberally sprinkle smaller stones through the ‘build’, and never use gravel and keep small chips to a minimum.  

The hearting is critical in preventing movement in the short term and helping to control it in the long term, you want it to settle as little and evenly as possible.  Gravel and small stones might help you lock it all together now, but in the long run ‘gravel travels’.  As stones settle the smaller stones can fall between gaps, ad get under stones, acting as ball bearings and effectively lubricating movemet, speeding it rather than slowing it.  Most of this ought to be obvious in a 15 feet high retaining wall but it also applies to a 4 feet high free standing wall.  Okay so if there is only an inch or two between the opposite face stones you will run your hearting along rather than in, but where the gaps get bigger apply as many of the principles that apply to the rest of your build as you can.

Meanwhile on the rock face ‘old’ faces Karl Kaufmann and TJ Mora arrived last night for the final push.  TJ insisted that he would only return if he was allowed to prepare a pescatarian paella for me.  When the original Vermont crew were here he cooked a meat paella which I could not share in.  Who was I to refuse...   If you ever get the opportunity do not pass up on a TJ paella, it is a thing of great taste and beauty"

Photo-  TJ’s Paella


  1. It's was my great pleasure to serve SEan a good meal for a very hard days work. I can't wait to do it again.

  2. I came too late for the paella. Sean had eaten the entire pot!