Sunday, July 22, 2018

A stones throw from the high school

Last week we visited the bridge we built in July of 2017 . It's looking very settled in and part of the landscape Good to see too there's no stones loose or missing, even though the bridge is opposite Haliburton High School.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Did it really happen?


If a wooden form is removed from the bottom of a dry stone arch bridge in the middle of the forest, and no one sees it, was it ever really there?

Friday, July 20, 2018

Valuables in the Vault

We put a lot of time in the vault. There was a big investment of energy and a lot of mental effort. There was the value added in the shaping, the fitting, the figuring out what will work in what space , the taking stock of what stones we had left, banking on the bankers and being able to finish and maintain the high standard of workmanship that we started with. 
There's a lot of valuable stuff in our vault   saving up for the And now any time soon we'll go to the vault and withdraw  everything else ( the wooden form) so we can just look up inside the vault . We trust we won't need any bridge financing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Good Bridge with Good Form

Good bridges need good 'centering' , in other words 'good form'. We know this one is good because we just used it to build Mitchell's bridge and it worked perfectly. Today we will complete the abutments and start going over the form with the granite voussoirs.

Monday, July 16, 2018

What a Performance



Here in Ontario we have something cleverly named High Performance Bedding (HPB)by some aggregate industry advertising spin doctor. It's basically tiny pieces of crushed limestone, without the dust.
High Performance Bedding (H.P.B.TM) is the rather over-excited name for bedding material used to provide drainage layer under slabs, retaining walls and between flagstone. Apparently it is approved as an ‘alternative’ material by the Ontario Building code to the formally recognized HL6 clear stone.
It sells like crazy.
But surely it's a stretch to call it high performance ? Having had initially great expectations, I have long since given up holding it cautiously in my hands waiting for it to somehow 'perform' -as I sit perched on the edge of my seat, expecting it to put on some amazing show. . . Nope

It's just tiny gravel folks. Nothing to see here. Move on.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

A bridge is not a dam.




I build bridges. 

Bridges are built so as not to hinder or stifle the course that nature has already taken, no matter how inconvenient that flow seems or how expedient our own course has become.

A bridge does not say to the river, “Stop what you’re doing, I am more important”

A bridge does not block the silent flow of the moment, or the stream of spontaneity or creativity It does not try to impede the activity that goes freely on below, however contrary to the direction we have chosen to go. 

Spanning things (not hindering the flow) is of a higher order than just connecting adjoining purposes. In this respect, causeways are very unsuccessful bridges.

The thing that flows beneath a bridge can often be more important than the bridge itself, or the things it connects.

There are comings and goings of life (of people and situations) that flow constantly across (above or below) our path which we shouldn’t need to criticize or block completely just because they appear different or not useful to our own interests. 

Bridges are the solution to differences of opinion, style, technique, orientation. A bridge is a structural compromise across dynamic flows, not a stagnant stalemate between enemies. There is no need for conflict, no need for 'either or' ultimatums, no need to have the falsework stay there under the bridge blocking the expansive  flow of cooperation and good will ever possible between man and man, or man and nature.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Metamorphic Stone



The bridge at Pontypool went through a transformation yesterday. Not unlike the metamorphosis of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, late in the afternoon, after three solid days weighting in the hot sun as we systematically shaped and assembled them, the stones shed their original form supporting them, and, almost miraculously, changed into a floating arc of beauty.  

For the next two days the bridge will need time to have its wings dry laid and have its cobbled walking surface emerge, After that we're anticipating this whole garden bridge project, which has been such a splendid experience to be part of, will begin to 'take off'not just visually, but also 'notably', as the bridge, with its slanted abutment design, is quite different from any of the previous ones we've done here in Canada 




Thanks to the enthusiastic team that participated in this workshop, including the 'Fike Team', Mack, Zack, Brian and Reid. Big kudos to to Oliver, and of course to my main helper Mark and my client Dave.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Bridges without anything but Humans


Stone bridges can be made without mortar. 

Stone bridges that span many feet and take the weight of all sorts of heavy traffic and cross great chasms, can be made without a lot of things. They can be made without complicating engineering reinforcement requirements and without many totally unnecessary manufactured products, things that unfortunately, in this so called modern age, you might be pressured to using.

But the fact is, they can be made without having any  steel or concrete in them. They can be made without nails, fasteners,rebar or plastic holding them together. And can be built without using bobcats or cranes or heavy equipment. 
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Beautiful footbridges of stone that last hundreds of years can be made without anything, (except a little bit of wood) some rocks and a friendly bunch of enthusiastic people. It mostly needs people doing what they do best - getting along.


Monday, July 9, 2018

Dry Walls and Stone Boats



Last Friday, after completing four days doing the boat /bench installation on the shore of Head Lake in Sam Slick Park, I moved inland with my students to do a half day of dry stone wall instruction along the perimeter of Haliburton Highlands Museum property near HSAD.

The fieldstone material here is very different from the quarried material we were using before. Rounder, weathered, and distributed long ago by the glaciers. These particular stones had been piled here at the time the museum opened and were waiting to be made into a replica of a historic wall settlers might have constructed after clearing the land. (Perhaps the bigger ones would have been dragged off the fields in a traditional 'stone boat') 

They would however, have been difficult to form into any kind of sculpture of a 'boat'. 
They would all rather just be part of a ‘dry’ stone wall. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Messing about with a Stone Boat



"There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." Kenneth Grahame
1908

Friday, July 6, 2018

A Dry Stone Boat


These happy sailers just completed 4 days on a course along the shore in stone row boat building workship, I mean workshop. Even though the weather was scorching and there was no breeze, the crew did a fine job of staying on course without any talk of mutiny or anyone rocking the boat too much. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Field trip to the quarry



Yesterday we went to a local quarry so the students could see how the granite near Minden comes out of the ground. and is processed. Mostly by one man, Ryan, who works at the quarry and is happy enough to show us how this lovely layered Liquorice All-sorts material can be split into 2 inch flags fairly easily with a large splitting hammer. 

A field trip like this helps fill out the day and is a change from the hot work it's been so far this week moving and lifting stones. More fun to watch someone else sweating.

We were there too on a mission with my trailer, to pick up a few 'parts' for the stone boat we are building.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Design a Stone Boat


Yesterday, after a morning of class instruction in dry stone walling, and an afternoon of designing in miniature with small stones, my class has come up with what we think will be a good dry stone bench concept for the park.


Monday, July 2, 2018

Hot Doggedy


Last Friday Mary and I went to the quarry in Minden and chose all these rocks for the Haliburton School of Art and Design course thatI’ll be teaching this coming week. 
Farley just sat and watched. He was way too hot. 
Drop by if you’re cottaging in the area. The workshop project is in the park right next to the site where last year’s class built a charming little dry stone footbridge.