Monday, October 31, 2016

Stone steps don't have to be boring #4

But they shouldn't be this scary either !!

These stone steps and walls are just down the street from us.
I think they may be on the corner of Elm Street. In any case they are a nightmare.

Happy Walloween

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Stone steps don't have to be boring #3

Style stone steps are clever and often a very stylish way of getting up into and over things.

These style steps lead you up to a newly built swimming pool.

These ascend up and around the side of a steep retaining wall

These steps lead you down to the lake shore.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Stone steps don't have to be boring # 2

Though cut and bored out of this huge rock with primitive hand tools, these stone steps are far from boring

The rock with its amazing staircase stands in a lonely field not far from Bentham Lancashire  It's called the 'Great Stone of Fourstones'

Friday, October 28, 2016

Dry stone steps don't have to be boring. #1

Here's a unique and well executed concept that transforms the utilitarian aspect of 'stone steps' into a clever and visually appealing dry stone feature.  Kudos.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

How many boulders in 1 lb?

"Roughly 9, but depending on how the boulders crumble, there could be more or less." Says Kimmie on their FAQ webpage " But you’ll for sure get your 1lb! "

ChocoRocks 5lb. Bulk (Gold Boulders)

ChocoRocks Gold Boulders 5lb. Bulk
Our Price: $41.00

These, of course, are boulders you can eat.

I recently learned about these rocks from John Scott who brought me some ChocoRocks back from Montana last month when he was visiting there.
He was fascinated when he saw them in a local candy store and knew I would be too.

The Natural ChocoRocks he brought back came in a 3 oz package and didn't have any boulders. Hmm.

The label says ChocoRocks are 'packaged in Reno Nevada', which is some 957 miles from the famous Chaco Canyon where presumably they are originally quarried.  Whatever the case ChocoRocks are a bite of a mystery.

Incidentally, around 200,000 pieces of turquoise have been excavated from the ruins at Chaco Canyon.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mission Accomplished

I had a challenging and yet very rewarding time teaching a workshop last weekend in Truro Nova Scotia.

Garden manager Darwin Carr in conjunction with Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture lined up ten students and requested I teach how to build a dry stacked wall on their campus and perhaps complete the project with a garden arch. I characteristically agreed to accept the task. 

The 5O foot long public wall installation was built by ten enthusiastic participants in the very beautiful 'Herb Garden' created by 'Friends of the Garden' in 2003 . The garden is situated just across the street from the college. 

The Wallace Quarry random sized sandstone suited itself (kind of) to doing a Feidin type wedge style wall. There were some huge flat chunks.   

On the Friday before the workshop we spread out the stones along the prepared base.  We managed to find two big square 400 pound boulders from behind the agriculture building to act as wall bookends. We dug them in 50 feet apart from each other.  

I taught for two hours in the audio visual classroom Saturday morning and then we went out in the rain and attacked the project.  The rain wasn't too bad and things went strangely smoothly and we completed most the wall and arch in the time allotted . 

Yesterday a few of us returned and beefed up the arch with a few more chunky stones and flattened off the rest of the top of the wedged wall, tightening everything up and chiseling the high points giving it a crisp flat look  ( as this adds so much to the look of any wall) 

I am a big fan of this style of wall now. Pairs of students can work independently along the wall and make great progress. Overseeing the work was challenging but my team of students caught on amazingly well. 

The vertical aspect of this type of wall allows for height to be gained efficiently and large vertical thru stones become locked in quickly. Any gaps can be carefully improved by wedging more stones and strengthened it without having to take sections down . 

Thanks to our Irish friend and expert in all things masonry Patrick McAfee for turning us Canadians on to this kind of walling. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Arch Friends

We were thrilled to the bone to finish our wall and garden arch yesterday. What a team. More pics tomorrow 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Drenched to the bone.

A 10:30 am pic and a 4:30 pm pic.

A 54 foot long wet/dry stone wall workshop nearly half completed.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A garden needs bones.

This garden in Truro at the University of Dalhousie Faculty of Agriculture is going to get a some 'bones' added to it

Bones are the solid elements of a garden that are visible even in winter

First come the heavy chunky sandstone wall shoulders. These were reclaimed from an old stone building in Truro that was taken down many years ago.

Then ten or twenty random tons of sandstone 'Wallrock' from The Wallace Quarry are maneuvered onto the site. This is the very same stone used in the rebuilding of the Parliament building in Ottawa after the fire of 1816.

These bigger stones will make a strong wall. They're moved with a big tree dolly. They will form the uprights to form a kind of upright skeleton for the Feidin wall.

All the bones of the wall are laid out in preparation for the workshop we are running this weekend. 

While they are not as light as the the plastic gravestones people decorate their lawns with, it does look a bit like we're getting ready for Halloween.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dry Stacking Pallets and Wet Stacking Scaffolding

Sometimes,when your doing dry stack walling high up, scaffolding is needed, especially if your building something like a moongate, which is what we were doing last week in Upper N. Y. state. 

When you don’t have any proper scaffolding you can stack pallets, and stand on them higher and higher as you stack the stones up over the form. 

Setting up scaffolding to build a bridge arch can be another problem, especially when it has to be set up in the water. Andre Lemieux had to dive down holding large rocks and try to stack them below the surface. He had to make four secure underwater piers to set two sections of scaffolding on, so that he and Kenny Davies and the other wallers at the Perth Bridge Festival last July, could work up high enough to stack the stone voussoirs up over the bridge form.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Find Farley

Northumberland News

PORT HOPE -- One of Port Hope’s most famous residents, Farley Mowat, now has two public monuments. 
A full lineup of Thanksgiving weekend events paid tribute to the internationally recognized author who died in 2014. The events were centred around the move of the boat roofed house monument from Catherine Street where it has been for 10 years, to the Eastside Ganaraska Park. The monument is the largest known dedicated to the author. 
Family members participated in the events, including his wife Claire Mowat, son Sandy Mowat, grandson Justin Mowat and brother John Mowat. The family donated a bronze bust of the author on the second floor of the Port Hope Public Library. The bust is a smaller version of a bronze statue depicting him and his beloved dog, Chester, created by George Boileau. The statue is in Saskatoon where the author grew up. 
Farley would have been “extremely happy” to see the boat roofed house in a public location within view of library, said Claire after the bust unveiling. The author believed in books and reading and likely would have been glad that the monuments inspire people to read, she added. 
Farley’s family had a long history in the area. Farley’s father, Angus Mowat, a librarian and First World War veteran, retired in Port Hope where he served on the library board. Farley and Claire moved to Port Hope in 1968, said his grandson Justin, adding they spent summers at a home in Cape Breton. 
“He really cared about Port Hope -- he could have chosen anywhere to live in Canada,” said Justin to a large crowd gathered in the library for the bust unveiling on Oct. 8. 
Farley forged a strong, long-lasting connection with the Port Hope Public Library -- he started a Christmas tradition, reading stories to the young and old, Justin said. 
“Where better to commemorate Mr. Farley Mowat than in one of his favourite Port Hope spaces,” said Justin. “I can even pull a Farley Mowat book off the shelf and enjoy it in the shadow of his bust -- I think he would like that.” 
Justin added a personal note about his famous grandfather. 
“To me he was always just my grandpa and he was just this crazy dude who looked like a child in an old man’s body and would say the most ridiculous stuff and did not care what other people thought of him ...” said Justin. 
Farley saw the statue Boileau created. He climbed up on a ladder “so he could look himself in the eye,” said Boileau at the Port Hope Library unveiling. Farley told him the statue made him look “oracular” or like an oracle. 
“That has been, thus far, the best compliment I have ever received,” said Boileau. 
He said it is an honour to have his piece in the library.
“Farley Mowat was a force of nature -- figuratively and literally.” 
The boat roofed house idea came from Port Hope dry stone waller John Shaw-Rimmington who met Farley about 12 years ago, he said. 
“We met at party -- he said to me ‘You should read my book ‘Farfarers,’ because he knew I was a dry stone waller,” said Shaw-Rimmington. 
The book details archeological examples of boat-shaped dry stone walls in Canada that pre-dated the Vikings landing. 
“I decided this was a really cool thing to make a replica of this boat roofed house,” said Shaw-Rimmington. 
He asked Farley if he would like to see a monument built for him rather than having tourists drive by his home in Port Hope. 
“He said ‘sure, knock yourself out’,” said Shaw-Rimmington. 
Ten years ago, about 10 or 15 dry stone wallers got together and built it on Catherine Street on Stephen Smith’s land. Smith, who also took part in the weekend events said he was relived to see the monument in public hands. He has sold his property and is moving to another home in Port Hope, he said. When the council of the day would not agree to build it in a visible downtown location, Smith, a friend of Farley, offered his property 10 years ago, he said. 
“I was glad to have it,” he said. 
Tourism buses and groups of school children would navigate the small street to see the monument, he said. Smith recalled a time when about 300 school children came down to see it. 
“Farley was thrilled -- he had a unique way with kids,” said Smith. 
Farley also loved the monument, Smith said. 
“He was delighted with the thing -- he threatened to put his ashes in it,” Smith said. “It’s a monument to his work.” 
Among those gathered to re-dedicate the monument was Ryan Young, a former Sea Shepherd Conservation Society crew member. Sea Shepherd, an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization, has named three ships after Farley Mowat, said Young on Oct. 9. 
“It seems that Farley is followed or animated in his life by ships of all sorts and boats so I think it is great that we are here once again in relation to Farley Mowat connected to a boat,” said Young. 
Young brought a message from Captain Paul Watson, the founder of Sea Shepherd. Watson, originally from Toronto, cannot enter Canada because the Japanese Coast Guard has an arrest warrant out on him. In the message, Watson said he wanted to be in Port Hope for the re-dedication. 
“Farley was inspiration to me in the ‘60s as a writer and even more so in the ‘70s as an activist,” said Watson. “When I think of Canada, the first thought that comes to me is Farley Mowat.” 
Farley is the true spirit of what every Canadian should be --- a defender of Canada’s nature and First Nations people and a visionary, Watson said. 
“He never shied away from controversy, never stepped aside from fear, never back down from confrontation,” 
The weekend events also drew friends such as Mike Austin, a London resident and life-long penpal of Farley’s. Austin wrote a letter to Farley when he was 11 years old, nearly 40 years ago, after he read ‘Never Cry Wolf’. The two exchanged letters until Farley died. As a tattoo artist, with a tattoo of Farley on his leg, Austin often drew on his letters. The last thing he sent Farley was a hand-drawn birthday card, which Farley never opened, he said. 
Port Hope is expected to continue paying tribute to Farley with a possible environmental writing workshop in the works and a new sign. 
This time next year, Mayor Bob Sanderson said he would like to see a sign on Hwy. 401 that reads “Port Hope, Home of Farley Mowat.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Four views of the HoneyMoongate wall and a pond shot.

Norman and I were delighted with what our walling participants accomplished last weekend, along with special guest rockstar helpers Dan, Scott, Brian and Tom.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Full Moongate

We Did It ! We're so happy, were just about over the moon!

Perfect Proportions

 A Niche For Wine

A Canada/Scotland Collaboration

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Not Quite a Moongate Yet

Yesterday before noon the students gathered for a one third moongate shot.

And then when we gathered later inside for audio visual presentations, Jim Russell went outside at 8pm and noticed the full moon had showed up too.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Promising The Moon

We've promised that we will be leading a stone moongate/walling workshop this weekendWe have advanced students and beginners so its going to be fun.

Brian, Scott and Dan already brought the stones to the site and prepared some of the base for the students last week. They discovered working on the base to be a challenge.

It is a bit counter intuitive, but building the lower half of the stone circular opening of a moongate is actually more difficult than building the upper half. Any guesses  as to why that might be?

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Pitch For The Curve Wall

Some fantastic walling went on here during the Boston Flower Show 

Back in June 2016 , along with his with his crew, Brian Fairfield of MaineStoneworkbuilt this wonderful meandering garden feature. 

The installation explores several avenues of styles that dry stone wallers can employ, bedsides standardized horizontal coursed walling.

This kind of work shows that Brian is not just committed to doing his absolute best as a waller (as he explains on his website) but that he isn't afraid to push the outside of the envelope creatively, either.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


After the very successful relocation of the Farley Mowat Boat Roofed House Memorial in Port Hope Ontario, Norman Haddow came with us to a job site yesterday and helped as we capped off our round stone wall using flat copes on.

Two years ago he helped on a different project where a wall we had made with flat stones was then capped with round stones.

Which do you prefer?