Sunday, June 24, 2018
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
We must not give in to A. I. - that is, Artificial Insanity.
There is still enough REAL to go around.
Non-plastic flowers still can bloom in our gardens and be picked and put in vases and last long enough for us to remember life is not an act, not a facsimile, not something we can pretend is close enough to real that it doesn't matter.
Of course it matters.
Life is not artificial.
Matter matters and it is ALL real.
Rocks may be our last chance to turn this rampant artificial insanity around.
Rocks are not trying to be anything else. Rocks don't need to be imitated. Rocks shouldn't be fake. The artificial has to stop somewhere. We have enough fake gold, pretend amusement, synthetic food, made up lives and fabricated lies to sink a planet.
The rocks can save us if we listen to them, if we don't mute their voices staring at plastic versions.
Our planet is mostly rock. Our earth is made of reality. It will not go well if we fool ourselves into thinking we will make do in some fake world we have manufactured for ourselves. No amount of insanity, or intelligence, can replace the truth of one single REAL rock.
Monday, June 18, 2018
Sunday, June 17, 2018
You rarely see Border Collies and border walls in Canada both ‘working’ together to round up sheep.
The place was Balsam Lake Ontario
The time? Last Friday.
The wall? Just one of some the many sections we’ve restored over the past 14 years.
The dogs? Just prizewinning shepherding dogs owned and trained by Kevan Gretton and Catherine
The ‘experience’ was a pilot event organized by Debra Soule, economic development officer for the City of Kawartha Lakes.
Saturday, June 16, 2018
The pilot program is going well.
The Balsam Lake walls, where we were 'work-shopping' yesterday, will soon be on an interactive map showing art and/or historicaly interesting points of interest in and around the City of Kawartha lakes.
There will be signs put up too, marking where these lovely old Scottish walls are, many of which are over 150 years old. We better hurry and get this interactive one completed.
Friday, June 15, 2018
I was asked to help develop a pilot program for the City of Kawartha Lakes Tourism,Arts,Culture and Heritage Development Department involving instructing a wall restoration course at Balsam Lake as part of a two day 'Experience' that will be offered as a package holiday adventure here in Southern Ontario. Yesterday we took down a section of 150 year old wall that was showing signs of collapsing and had spread out at the base. Property owner Doug Patterson and I, with the help of some capable promotional and marketing women, pushed some very large granite boulders back into place in preparation for rows of limestone material to be then laid above them today .
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Looking more like a 'keyhole' now, our 'bowl bench' is taking shape. This local limestone (from the Smith Falls ,Ontario area) breaks along parallel cleavage lines, leaving lots of flag material (or as Mark says 'plates') to choose from. We are finding laying it vertically in a more Irish style is giving the circle strength and a pleasing dynamic look. The trick too is not to have fresh breaks showing, ( just natural faces) or chisel too much so that the finished piece looks vaguely neolithic. That said, this installation is turning out to be a bit of a challenge. I like creating structures I've never done before, and so I remind myself that usually means taking a risk. As my friend John Fisher the sculptor says, "True artistic output is an act of desperation".
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Here's a visualization of a project we're starting this week. A dry laid concave circular reclining area nestled in a inverted bowl-shaped hill. The splayed entrance invites you towards the narrow opening that then opens up into a cozy protected 'gathering area'. Hopefully the grassy mound and passageway will have similar appeal to that of various rounded sections of ancient Roman earthworks I've seen on my visits to Britain..
Monday, June 11, 2018
Eight students, two day workshop.
Students who took the May 20th Dry Stone Walling Across Canada workshop in Rockport might be interested to see their shorter section of wall has now been completed and matches the longer wall we built last year on the other side of the lane.
Again, well done to the students, and to everyone who was involved.
Monday, June 4, 2018
Photo by Paul Murphy of Merchants Gate Films
Even though we didn't quite get it finished during the five day festival of Stein and Wein in Langenlois Austria, we made a significant landmark nestled among the rolling hills of this beautiful vineyard landscape.
In my talk the previous Friday, I had pointed out that when you are building structures with dry stone, you can pretend that they are supposed to be rustic ruins until you come back to finish them. Then again, if it is to just be a ruins, and you need more work, you can keep adding to it for as long as it is expedient.
Many thanks to Helmut and the whole crew who made this part of the five sided hut such a success. Sorry to leave my Irish, Austrian and German friends behind. Missing from this photo are Martina, Elizabeth,Reiner, Herman and Renate who also were big helpers.
Sunday, June 3, 2018
Several types of stein are being used in the construction of the hut including dense limestone and dimensional and irregularly shaped granite. There are many different students and professionals in the project. The challenge is to get the Stein and the volk to work together.
I have been so impressed with the hospitality and provision of those hosting this event. There has been a much appreciated routine of good tasting Austrian cuisine and an amazing variety of refreshments each day.
The project has taken five days now and during this short time I have made many new friends and been reacquainted with others I've had the pleasure of working with before (from Ireland Austria and Germany) who all have discovered this same love of stein. It's a wonderful niche to explore.
Saturday, June 2, 2018
Another hot day lifting heavy stones onto the walls of the five sided hut .
Great helpers, great food, great learning, great experience and great exercise . Thirsty work too. Luckily there were copious clusters of fresh grapes on the vines in the vineyard where we're working to refresh our parched pallets .
But I jest. They are jest photoshopped.
Friday, June 1, 2018
Thursday, May 31, 2018
You can just see small pink dots on the base stones marking the outside and inside of the five sided dry stone hut we are building at the Stein in's Wein festival in Austria this week. It's slow going and most of the work done by the wallers and students so far ( except for a few more shaped corners) will not be seen, since the foundation stones here are all still below grade .
But, as in any serious dry stone construction or creative work, the hearting and the base is not what you actually see and yet it is often the most important and painstakingly slowest part of the job.
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Monday, May 28, 2018
I've been asked to give a quote on repairing this section of old dry stone wall on Amherst Island that was damaged by a truck carrying wind turbine component equipment.
Photo by Brian Little
Many of the walls on the island are in danger of having similar damage done to them unless the trucks drive slower and follow the proper MOECC rules and regulations set in place to protect and respect the properties affected by the influx of trucks creating wind turbine construction upheaval.
Sunday, May 27, 2018
“Zen pretty much comes down to three things -- everything is connected; everything changes; pay attention.” Jane Hirshfield -poet.
In the picture above, all the stones in the wall are the same shade of grey (connected) even though the ones at the top look darker (changed)
Did you notice? (pay attention)
Saturday, May 26, 2018
I am very honoured to be one of the guest speakers invited by Helmut Schieder to attend this year's Stein and Wine dry stone and wine event starting May 30th, near the town of Langenlois in a part of Austria that is known for its vineyards and extensive wine production.
You can read more about the stone festival itself in a great blog post Sunny Wieler wrote describing the the 2015 event attended by a great bunch of rock stars including Patrick McAfee Sean Adcock and Nick Aitken, to name a few .
Last year Helmut organized the building of a small double arched bridge.
The year before, the participants constructed a Irish beehive hut.
This year we will be building a five-sided vaulted-roofed structure with stained glass window openings.
Friday, May 25, 2018
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
People who have more than enough stone think I’m kind of strange. But the fact is - I don’t like to waste stones.
I remember days when it was hard to put a stone on the table.
When I was young where I lived there weren’t that many to go round.
It was a job, some days, just to find one.
Often, me and my friends would come home empty-handed .
That’s why I try to make use of every stone I am given.
That’s why I make sure none go to waste.
All I have to do is think about people who are less fortunate than me, people who are without stones on their property, or can’t afford to buy them, or have no place they can go gather them, and then I look at the pile of stones I have and they don’t look so bad.
Who am I to say a stone is a bad stone? Who would have the gall to say a stone is useless? What makes a person so special that they think they can just throw stones away?
No, people should be glad for every stone God gives them.
Sunday, May 20, 2018
|Photo by Mark Ricard|
We had a royally good time yesterday at the 1000 Island Dry Stone Workshop at Rockport Ontario.
Students gathered early and learned the basic principals of how to wed stones to one another in order to build a strong princely wall, and then we all joined forces to add another 28 foot section of six foot high wall, to the existing 100 feet of wall, along the border of this lovely village property, just east of Gananoque.
Having an example structure already on site makes it very convenient to point out all the features of a properly built dry laid wall. There's really no need for diagrams if you have the real thing there. The batter, the through stones, the bonding, and cheek-ends are all visible. The only thing students are not able to inspect is the 'hearting'. Ironically, how the stones are placed in the wall, is often crucial to whether the wall stands against the attacks of time and weather.
By mid-morning a steady barrage of rain fell on the troops, but it didn't dampen our enthusiasm. We remained victoriously DRY stone wallers.
Reining day people.