Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Thinking with tiny hands

While proper dry stone walling as a craft is catching on all across Canada these days, (as seen by the increasing number of comprehensive training courses being offered each year) it is a bit surprising that more younger wallers are not emerging from the ranks. Perhaps we need to start earlier.

The kids I worked with at the children's event during the Barriefield Festival last weekend in Kingston Ontario seemed more than content to be putting 'stone on stone'. They enjoyed exploring the many ways stones fit together and probably discovered the same pleasures of hands-on physics with all its nuances and possibilities , that full-scale dry stone walling has, only in this case, in miniature form.  

The miniature people I brought along for the event added a magical scale to the creations the children built.

This lady is contemplating picking up this huge chunk of limestone. I hope she doesn't hurt her back.

Doctor Who and his assistant helped the big kids with the building of a tiny dry stone bridge at the base of historic St Mark's Church.

Lots of grownups watched too as a tiny village of houses and walls and towers were made over the duration of the festival weekend 

While the thing about miniature walling is that you're far less likely to pinch your fingers, professional full-scale waller Dan Pearl, while building this mini Irish wall, seems to have somehow injured himself again. You're just not thinking with your hands, Dan.

Maybe he should let the tinier hands do it.

I watched Catherine build this wonderful cone-roofed tower all on her own.

These little guys built things with wooden blocks and discovered a lot about how things stay together without glue or interlocking snap-together plastic blocks like Lego and Duple. Instead of working to some 'standardized' design, their imaginations were unleashed. 

Of course their is always someone, no matter how small, who needs to use tools to make stones smaller. Sheldon was there working with us for a while, but then had to go and help all the bigger folks rebuilding the walls at the entrance to St Mark's.

My grown-up assistants at this year's children event were saints too. St. Diane and St. Mark together built this wonderful miniature reproduction of the church.


  1. I love this idea of miniature dry stone walling!

  2. These are great photos, John. I remember seeing your
    ‘Tiny Wall’ set up at Barriefield. I would like to play with them...too.
    Bruised fingers can happen, just like stone in a universe. Human know...