Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Mother Earth News Magazine Apr/May

stone material culvert property

Taking on the task of building a dry-stacked stone culvert — that is, a stone culvert that doesn’t use mortar — presents the very satisfying opportunity to build something that’ll be strong enough for you to drive a vehicle over and will look very much like a beautiful dry-stacked stone bridge. There’s no reason to go with bags of sand or cement, blocks, plastic, metal, or anything man-made in your finished culvert. With a little bit of effort and the right stone material, a culvert can become the showcase of your property. After all, it’s the first thing people will see when they pull up to your drive. Why not make it stunning?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


The equinox, the seasons, and the changing length of daylight hours throughout the year are all due to one fact: The Earth spins on a tilted axis.

The vernal (tr. spring) equinox (tr. equal night) is upon us today, Tuesday, March 20th.  Both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres will be experiencing an equal amount of daylight hours. For those of us here in the Northern Hemisphere, it marks the beginning of SPRING, with daylight hours continuing to lengthen until the summer solstice in June.

The green arrow on the rock shows an imaginary revolution of a rock representing for the purpose of illustration - the earth on its axis) It has equal shaded green to non-shaded green. This shows on one spin of the earth there is equal length of darkness to daylight at the equinox.

The green arrow in the photo below showing the orientation representing autumn and winter months prior to the equinox, when the earth axis is turned away from the sun, has more of its circular length in darkness,  and so we in the northern hemisphere, up to now, have had days with less daylight (and thus nights are not equal to daylight time. We've missed our time in the sun.

But now it's time to have fun in the sun, 

Spring is nature's way of saying. "Let's Party"

(sorry, for all of you down under)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Multi-Dimensional Stone

Time is a kind of weird 'extra' dimension that can be added to the three dimensions that we commonly understand 'space' to be.  

How would four dimensions look if we tried to show it the same way we see this three dimensional cube (above) on your two dimensional iPhone or laptop screen?

Below is a view of hypercube rotating in four dimensions, where (in four-dimensional space) all eight cubes are always the same, but here are being visualized as having perspective, just the way the rotating three dimensional cube is being 'visualized' in two dimensions above.


There are lots more dimensions, scientists tell us.
Time is divided into three dimensions. Past, present and future. So that makes 6 dimensions already.

How do we show a 6 dimensional object? - Say a three dimensional object (like our cube) as it is as it was and how it will be, - visualizing all 6 dimensions on the same screen?

I'm not sure.

Then there are the dimensions of 'possibility'

How many?

Scientists can't say, but we know there must be lots !

But here's the thing, I figure that stone contains all the dimensions.

Stone is all 'potential', in '3d space', and in past, present and future 'time'.

Don't ask me how I know. I just know.

And so, because we've been given so many dimensions to work with, anyone who understands and tries to create with it, will always be able to do really cool things with the stuff.

Dimensions in stone 

Thanks to Nick Leung for explaining and demonstrating some of these concepts on his website.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

What makes a dry stone waller

Here's a short video that pretty much sums up how I feel about my job. Good stuff. Walling is the best.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Irish stone dough.

When dry stone Waller Paraic Poil was visiting here from Ireland he helped out with a big stone wall project Mark and I were working on. While he was staying With Mary and I, he fancied having some home made bread and showed us how to make his mother’s traditional Irish soda bread.

I noticed he took great care mixing the combining the brown, white flour and the baking soda with the right amount of buttermilk so that the dough was not too moist. After he had firmly kneaded it into a round fleshy lump it looked not unlike a round rock. 

Lots of parallels have been made comparing stones and bread. What was particularly interesting for me however was the visual of the relationship between ‘dry stone’ and its doughy counterpart not being too moist, or rather being ‘dry’ enough. A wetter mixture would be incorrect. It would be too gooey to work with and would not hold its shape, nor would it have the right look or yummy taste after it was baked.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Have a nice day

Sometimes it's too easy, almost glib to merely tell someone to 'have a nice day'. How does one actually implement that suggestion if its cold and miserable and you still see snow on the ground? 

I'm not sure. But I do know that if you spend a day or two in the middle of May learning how to build with stone (no mortar) almost always, something nice is bound to happen .

A two-day beginner's dry stone wall workshop is planned for the weekend of May 12 to May 13 2018. Participants of all ages will learn the craft of dry lay construction as we continue to build another interesting section of dry stone wall, which eventually will become part of a dry stone gate entrance to a beautiful rural property near near Port Hope Ontario Canada . 

Join us for our 'Let's-Celebrate-Spring-Walling-Event'
This unique hands-on wall building course will be taught by proffesional waller and stone sculptor John Shaw-Rimmington. Cost for this two-day hands on seminar including printed instruction sheets, lunches for both days and a possible audio visual presentation on Saturday night is only $250. For more information please write to

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


No erosion, faintest wear
Some icy patches here and there.
They weather well exposed to air 
I’ve looked at walls like clouds.

But now they only build with block 
The reigning king is 'cultured rock’
So many things make piles of crock
Cuz none of it is real.

I've looked at walls and clouds both, now
From real and fake and still somehow
There’s no pollution with real walls
Which don’t make clouds of dust at all.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Both Sides Then

The Welsh equivilent to a Cornish hedge is the Clawdd, pronounced ‘cloud’. It is all dry laid using local stone laid vertically, and packed with dirt infill and sod/turf on top.

In Oct of 2012 at our Dry Stone Walling Across Canada festival near Montreal Quebec, Akira Inman and Andre Lemieux (standing both sides of the clawdd) were taught how to construct this unusual type of wall by our special guest speaker and professional waller Sean Adcock, and then, with help fromother students, all under Sean’s clever supervision, together built this lovely example, which Sean then photographed.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Dangerous substance

How is it that of all the possible high-tech or suspicious looking things that get detected in people's carry on bags at the security check line at the airport, it's still a simple rock that gets them all confused and requires that you be taken aside and open your bag very slowly

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Spring Ahead

Our dry stone sundial at Fleming College needed shifting several degrees yesterday to adjust for the time change. It took a lot of time to move, (about an hour) but it'll take way less time when we change it back in the fall. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018


I found it amazing to see in many places during my travels to various parts of central and southern California, real live ‘tumbleweed’ - or rather, real dead tumbleweed.  You see the stuff rolling across the highways as you're driving along and can’t help noticing lots of round prickly clumps of it eventually ending up in people’s gardens and dotted everywhere along the dry flat California landscape. 

It occurred to me that dry stone fences might be useful in stopping this invasive weed spreading across pastures and grazing farmland . Beautiful walls made of natural stone everywhere would then not just be considered to be a very practical form of ‘livestock containment’, it would also be a very useful type of .......‘deadstalk containment’ too. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Grinding out some new lyrics

It's a dusty job 
with a noisy tool,
That I try not to use 
shaping stone as a rule.
But today I am working 
just as fast as I can
But I'm not gonna breath 
all the dust and sand
Cause I'm gonna be a
Paper mask grinder 
Paper mask grinder 
Paper mask -

It's a couple of bucks, 
give or take a few.
I'll be using more masks 
in a week or two.
I could use them longer, 
if they didn't clog up.
Turned inside out
man they really suck.
Paper mask grinder,
Paper mask grinder
Paper mask -

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


To work with flawed material is to decide to discover a perfection that could not be atttained with expensive primo material.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


Even though the common dry stone wall is a fairly adaptable creature and can survive in almost any environment, over thousands of years of development it has acquired a taste for a certain amount of visual refinement, and often prefers to be around architecture that is not just pragmatic. 

The wall we had the opportunity to build this week with leftover stone material, though it looks terrific and enhances the look of the building in the background, will always look better when it is one day ‘teleported’ from its industrial location to a more pastoral location, with a house, maybe similar to the one in the photo. 

Like so many things involving stones and style - it has a lot to do with context.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Flawed material has the most perfect potential for improvement .

Hoping to somehow create a masterpiece this week with all these broken pallets of leftover random stone material, all of it presenting a rather underwhelming pallet of colour and visual interest.

Having to use only broken, sawn, guillotined, mortar-stained stuff to build a good looking structural dry stone wall presents a bit of challenge. But there is always hope. And how often with stone - hope prevails.

What appears to be a sorry selection of flawed material,   with some care and imagination, magically can come together still to make something that often looks close to perfect.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

There for the Comparison

Without having something in the photo to compare with, it's difficult  sometimes to comprehend the overwhelming presence, the impressive power and scale of what it is your'e looking at.
That's why I made sure the rock was in this picture of me. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Wave

Sean Donnelly’s dry stone installation The Wave as interpreted by me in the inspiration of The Great Wave off Kanagawa, also known as The Great Wave or simply The Wave, a woodblock print by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai

Here is a short video about The Wave

Thursday, March 1, 2018


Impasto is a style of painting using heavy strokes of thick paint usually with a pallet knife. It seems to be a good technique for depicting stonework. In this case, the impasto ‘look’ of the fireplace we completed this week is accomplished using a digital image and then adding a special filter from an app called Glaze. 

The clip below shows the three rocks I tried to paint ( not very successfully ) in that same digital impasto style and then morphs into the final filtered digital image, as a kind of comparison. 

The impasto technique highlights the gutsy textures and irregular plasticity of the surfaces of the stone, while still capturing the gesture and recognizable ‘impression’ of the human form. 

For anyone looking to create more impressionistic images, of dry stonework particularity, it would be worthwhile practicing painting in this style, or merely experimenting with impasto filters.

Link to short clip >