Saturday, December 28, 2019

I have just three words for you, son.

The film The Graduate was released over fifty years ago. It was a good film. There's a poignant moment in it that I'll never forget. After just graduating from college, the advice given to Benjamin from his dad's employer Mr McGuire was just one word - Plastic. 

The scene is distressingly, ironically prophetic.  

It's likely Benjamin never got into plastic, but the rest of the world lost its mind and scrambled to produce and use and throw away as much of the stuff as is earthly possible. 

If only we had stopped back then and listened to the voice of reason. If only the waste and destruction caused by over producing the stuff could have been foreseen and avoided. 
What if there had been something far less harmful to the planet had been promoted?

Is there a chance that Benjamin got into dry stone walling? Perhaps. Maybe others would have caught on to how cool it was, and how non destructive.  Sure, we'd still have to use paper bags, and glass jars and not get into over-packaging stuff and avoid producing and buying a lot of tempting consumer products, but having a generation of people who loved and work with natural stone surely would have been part of a much needed healing process for the earth, instead of the 5 decades of plastic we've subjected ourselves and the rest of the planet too.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Remembering the Stone O Zone

Merry Christmas 

Happy New Year 


Happy Holidays 

from me to all of 


Saturday, December 21, 2019

Welcome to the Solstice

There’s a   L  O  N  G    N  I  G  H  T  ... ahead of us.
See you on the other side.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Touching the Emergent Properties

All properties of a complex system that are not relations between it and something else derive from the properties of its constituents and their effects on each other when so combined. Emergence is an epistemological condition: it means that an observed feature of the system cannot be derived from the properties currently attributed to its constituents. But this is a reason to conclude that either the system has further constituents of which we are not yet aware, or the constituents of which we are aware have further properties that we have not yet discovered.  Thomas Nagel. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Reading something novel.

It is very unlikely that anything can be truely random.
The concept of random is inconsistent with a closed system of conscious reality.
So randomness is a bit of an inexplicable phenomena.
It's not strange that there is order in the universe . It's the novelty of chance injected into it every moment that is the surprise

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Wall is a verb.

The word Wall is many things. Not just the end result.
And 'to wall' is like making music.
It is the whole event, not just a finished static structure.
Walling is an allegory. A expression of life in all its continuity - creatively combining spontaneity and permanence .
It is an event that needs to be appreciated in its entirety.
The whole process is a creative dance with natural material using mass, balance and dynamic friction.
Join the stones and join the dance.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Abducted to Stone

The Gallacticus Orbitory is a recently discovered saucer shaped dry stone interstellar craft believed to have landed here in Ireland many eons ago. Little is known about the galaxy it came from, its initial trajectory or its original orbit.  Was the craft supposed to have landed on earth or did it just crash here? 
Did any other aspect of this mysterious dry stone craft survive? Evidence suggests that all the well built stone walls found here on earth, which amazingly have no mortar holding them together, are the work of descended beings who were (or still are) captivated by the cosmic attraction of this advanced stone technology .  It is believed that some kind of secret bonding knowledge was originally imparted to humans by Stone Age space travellers many thousands of years ago, and the stonework we see on earth, like the craft itself, has remained curiously intact to this day.

Panpsychism in Focus

It doesn’t take much of a brain to understand that maybe everything has consciousness, even stones.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Permanent Balance

Nothing is permanent. Balance is no exception. The prolonging of balance, (for it not to just be temporary) requires constant adjustments to outside change. Balance without controlled refinements is usually quite short lived. While some things balance for what could be considered an unusually long time, all balance is brief compared to static 'non-balance'. 

The brevity is what make balance rare, and this among other attributes is what causes it to have value. 

Balance is sought after in every aspect of our lives. It is this ephemeral equilibrium we seek, and if we find it, strive endlessly to try to maintain. 

Balancing stones is a metaphor for that process of seeking. It capsulizes that all-consuming need to discover some invisible symmetry, some unlikely aesthetic, using intuition and all our powers of alignment, to find an equivalent balance in our everyday lives. . Hence the tower of improbably balanced stones becomes our icon. 

And when we see it in a stone balance, it seems almost magical. For real balance, not the reinforced concrete type,  really is sacred, and worthy of honouring. 

But how?

All non-balance by contrast is dead. We need not build memorials to dead things. But, could we really build a proper monument to the goddess of balance? 

What would it look like?How could it not end up being ironic?

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The space between

Walls are not just for keeping things in or keeping them out. They are about everything in between too. It is between walls  where all the space contained within their parallel narrownesses is experientially defined. This is where we feel strangely suspended between two confining yet releasing masses.

If we wait and are still enough we begin to feel a fundamental sense of connection. There is sensation of completeness as we channel the energy flowing along a double walled path. The combined effect of two stone masses in such close proximity is strangely calming, strangely exhilarating. 
It is a kind of a parting of our own personal sea of experiences. 

As we travel through, we can run our hands along the stones and help complete the circuit. Life we discover is not just about connecting dots. Parallel walls like these provide an opportunity to also connect lines. And held within them, we become that infinity where parallel lines meet.

Thursday, December 5, 2019


This simulation of Handhenge was part of our proposal package we submitted for an installation we plan to build for Burning Man 2020.
It will involve nearly 100 tons of random shaped quarried stone. To be taken down afterwards and built somewhere else.  To read more about it, go to 

Off in the distance

Farley sits proudly in front of the arch we built a few years ago. It calmly stands, overlooking the steady flow of traffic streaming into and out of the huge metropolis of Toronto. I like to think drivers look up from the line of traffic stopped in every direction and smile. That they think pleasant far away enchanted thoughts about how magical life is. I hope it blesses them and reminds them that stones are our connection to the universe, not money or the monotony of ignoring our connection to everything.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Touch Stones

What is touch?
How close do we get to touching anything or anyone?
The molecules that make up the tips of my fingers push into your being, but how much actual contact is there?
We assume because there is some sort of back pressure that our matter, (the physical and even metaphysical stuff we are made of) has met, but this is only an illusion. Science tells us the universe is mostly space and that there is still an almost infinite space between any of us, between everything in fact, no matter how close we get.
Combine this with the fact that some things are not even supposed to be touched - fire, the edge of sharp objects, live electric wires, paintings at the art gallery, ceramic figures at the gift shop.
It is any wonder people start to become untouched by it all,  and feel that everything outside of them is untouchable 
In such a world/universe where so many things can’t  be touched, or are not even supposed to be touched, there is, for the discovering, this curiously touchable-looking material called stone.
There is no sign on the mountain, on the rocky boulders , or the stone buildings, the dry laid walls, the stone bridges and terraces , or any of the pebbles on the beach, ‘
No sign saying 
‘Please don’t touch’
Most plants maybe shouldnt be handled, the trees must not be taken away, the clouds are illusion, the water in the river slips through our hands.
So many mysterious substances appear but can not be entered into.
So many things you cant put your finger on 
'Stone' the prime medium of touch.
More importantly, there is a feeling that it should be touched.
A sense that ironically, within its hardness and the silence, here is the door 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Time lapsed.

I started so fresh. I look so naively positive, so tentatively eager. The first day of another two week session. At the end of the two weeks I look to weak to stand up. Dusty, tired and looking forward to returning home. Over time my body lapsed into a folded heap. The rocks have obviously taken their toll on me. Monumental work leaves one monumentally exhausted. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

All done.

This is a project which is not dry laid. The stones are set in black tinted mortar on concrete sills of between 7 inches and ten inches deep.  The stones are all locally sourced from the mountains. Some of them came from basement excavations and some from rockslides. 
It’s a lovely oatmeal textured granite. I loved working with this material. However it’s not fun to be beholden to the demands of using cement mortar. It’s seems it’s either too wet or too dry too much too little, the wrong colour and always messy. Hopefully now this is done we are looking forward to some dry stone retaining wall work on the property and finally break loose from the annoying constraints of wet masonry.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Inside the narrow columns

Seventeen basalt columns have now been placed close together into a circle around the centre speaker stone, to complete a New-Neolithic structure celebrating the powerful presence that stone creates in a world of less impressive man made  materials like plastic and styrofoam.  

The stones are spaced leaning slightly towards the middle. 
Standing inside, it's not hard to feel the energy of these anthropomorphic shapes that feel like they have solemnly gathered there to make plans. It definitely feels like there is a purpose to their alignment. Perhaps answers to the mystery  to life could be discovered within this circle? The first mystery to be solved of course will be how to get the wheelbarrow out  we left inside the henge. 

Saturday, September 21, 2019


The stones are huddled together around the altar, waiting for the human sacrifice to appear.

Monday, September 16, 2019


A cone-vergence of sugar pine cones and sublime inspiration . Cones replace stones in this whimsical collaboration of @lamicus1 and @drystonewaller up in the High Sierras.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

From The Kingston-Whig Standard

When Andrea Cross looks at one of the many century-old dry stone walls on Amherst Island, she sees the past and the future.
Cross has lived full time on Amherst Island for 19 years. The stone walls that line many of the roads and fields of the small island in Lake Ontario, 10 kilometres west of Kingston, are living monuments to a chapter in the island’s history, when it became home to several Irish immigrants in the early to mid 19th century.
Cross, a lover of history, connected to the walls and their stories. Most of the walls were created by dry stone wallers who emigrated from the Ards Peninsula in the County Down, in Northern Ireland.
Many of those walls still stand to this day, thanks to the somewhat frozen-in-time, undeveloped state of the little island, which is home to approximately 450 residents and is still steeped in agricultural practices for which the walls were originally created.
In fact, Amherst Island has the greatest concentration of known historic Irish dry stone walls in Canada. That fact alone makes the island a fantastic venue for the annual Dry Stone Canada Festival, which returns to the pastoral location for the third time in five years, this year on Sept. 14-15 at The Lodge in Stella.
Cross has been involved with the festival since its first iteration on the island in 2015, and that involvement was born out of a deep interest in the walls themselves.

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“When I saw the dry stone walls, I thought, wow, this is a connection to our past,” she said. “This is something that needs to be protected and celebrated for future generations.”
So that’s what she did. In 2013, working as a member of the Loyalist Township Heritage Committee, Cross started a project to document historic walls on the island and helped to create a bylaw that would protect those walls.
“I believe that’s one of the first such projects in Ontario,” she recalled. “We were sort of blazing a trail to figure out how to set up a bylaw that would fit within the Ontario Heritage Act.”
Cross then reached out to the Dry Stone Walling Association of Canada, also known as Dry Stone Canada, inviting members of the organization to visit Amherst Island and see the walls.
“They were blown away by what they saw,” she said. “They knew that this was a special place, that other wallers would appreciate and needed to see and would probably like to gather and celebrate and build a legacy structure to celebrate a festival.”
With members of Dry Stone Canada, Cross brought together the first dry stone walling festival on Amherst Island in 2015, the Canadian International Dry Stone Wall Festival, which was attended by federal politicians, international dignitaries and renowned wallers from around the world.
That event earned Cross and Dry Stone Canada a Lieutenant-Governor Ontario Heritage Award.
Many connections — to Ireland, to ancestors of settlers, and among wallers from around the world — were solidified at that 2015 festival, which saw the creation of a legacy project to honour the island’s Irish history.
“A lot of people who have walls on their property, they don’t take them down, they leave them there,” Cross explained. “They appreciate them, and a part of it, I think, is some of those walls were built by ancestors of the people who still live there.
“There are a number of fifth-, sixth-generation islanders who have gone back to their roots in Ireland and have commented on how strange it feels to go through the cemeteries there, because side by side, they’re the same names (as here.) There’s such a connection. That’s what I’m personally trying to do. To bring us together again. To make that connection.”
In two weeks, dozens of wallers will descend on Amherst Island once again to participate in workshops, create a special project, and celebrate the art of dry stone walling together — and they hope that the public will come out to watch.
“People are really excited,” Dry Stone Canada president Hilary Martin said during an interview leading up to the festival, which will see five build projects, restoration projects, walling and carving workshops for all skill levels, a special area for kids to create projects with expert direction, food, vendors and live music.
Two of those walling workshops will be community-focused builds: a dry stone wall base for a sign at the Amherst Island Public School, and a cob oven at The Back Kitchen, a volunteer, community-run restaurant in Stella, the island’s only village.
“This is a way to give back to the island,” said Martin, who thanked the many community members who continue to show support for the festival.
The oven at The Back Kitchen will be used for making pizza, and that build will take place in the five days leading up to the festival.
“With luck, we’ll be able to cook pizza on Sunday at the festival,” Martin said.
The tall ship the St. Lawrence II will be anchored offshore in sight of the build site at The Lodge, adding to the step-back-in-time ambiance of the event.
The festival will begin and end with a land acknowledgement and circle ceremony, to acknowledge the fact that dry stone walls enclose and represent incursion on Indigenous lands.
“Because we are aiming to become more conscious and aware of the relationship of walling to land, and to the long legacy of settler presence in Canada, we’re trying as an association to incorporate learning moments and connecting moments to become more thoughtful and aware and educated around those things,” Martin said.
Martin said there is an excitement surrounding the festival “that’s hard to describe.”
“We have wallers that come from around the world, across the province and other parts of the country, up from the States, basically to work for no money,” Martin said. “No one really understands that. The thing with the festival is it’s like an annual reunion of our stone family.
“(There is) a willingness to put the work in to make it happen in the community.”
The island community appreciates the walls, even if they are not all wallers, and Martin said it feels rare to be in a place that has not only “miles of dry stone walls” but also such a culturally active community.
“People care about the walls,” she said. “Some people don’t get it, and that’s fine, too. But … once you see a dry stone wall and understand what’s going on, how it is constructed without mortar, how it shifts with the freeze-thaw cycle … then you start seeing them everything, but they are still rare. On Amherst Island, they just are everywhere. As a waller, it is a great place to be.”
The public is invited to attend between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
The recurring festival raises the profile of local history and treasured remnants of the past.
“The walls just feel so much a part of what the island is,” Cross said. “And it’s a very special place.”
For more information, go online to

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Back Breaking Work

A friend of mine who designs and builds impressive dry stone walls sent me a Sketchup file of a clever looking thing he's going to be building for a client. I texted back to tell him I thought it was pretty cool. I made a casual remark about how much easier it was on the back to draw than to build.

He texted back. "Actually it's hard on the back. 

"That's funny" I replied

"It took me twenty hours of work in a computer chair to get that far. My backs actually killing me."

"Crazy! Getting the build on grade was difficult I bet?"

"Yeah the straight part went super fast. The graded bits were exponentially slower.  I basically had to build the wall in cyberspace... and then there were the copes!!!" (frazzled emoji face)

He went on "It's funny but sitting in a chair is way worse on my body than walling. And I have a good chair. I could never work in an office."

Sunday, September 1, 2019

New Angles

After making two saw cuts in a 12 inch thick block of limetone its time to use my newly fabricated angle iron wedges. The cuts are less than 3 inches deep.

Two pair fit snugly in the small 1/8th inch wide saw cuts

After some tapping with the sledge the thick block opens along the line of the two saw cuts .

 Here's what they look like from the side.  They do a good job of splitting the thick stone block and unlike feather and wedges, there are no unsightly drill holes to dress out. After the saw marks are pitched off, the big block will have a new natural face without a lot of extra chiselling or hammering