Thursday, January 31, 2019

Pine Cone Design for the Stone Zone.

We’re going to have a very enjoyable opportunity turning ‘stone to cone’ soon.  Let’s see how close we get to the thing looking like this rendering.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Gravity Glue meets Dr Who

Gravity Glue (Michael Grab) and Dr Who (me) collaborated on this blocky stone balance arch yesterday. Wonderful joining of stone energy and creative passion.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Filling the crags

After packing soil between the rows of upright flagstones in the newly created garden topography, we begin to give the crevice stone floor a flora flourish.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Now the fun begins

Time to get creative with the flagstone . The crevice garden starts to look like a contour map flowing up and over the ridge that is being retained. Big chunks of granite are introduced to add some dramatic topology.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Crevice Continued

Align the stones in the crevice garden in rows and bed them the way you would bed cobbles

String lines in several directions can help give an idea of the sweeping slope of the grade, but the final surface needs to be a gentle convex or concave curve, or a combination of swoops.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Crevice Garden preparations

Work began last week on the new crevice garden.
The prep work involved mostly digging in the mud removing twelve inches of soil.

The first row of lags are laid upright in a diagonal row across he middle of the space. The line of the  tops of the flagstones determines the general swoop of the topography from upper patio thu the middle to the lower walk. 
The beauty of the crevice garden is that it is beautiful AND does away with the need for a conventional terrace wall, while still retaining the slope and grade of the hill. The stones in the crevice garden create a gentle rolling slope, something you can walk down rather than step off and fall over. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The tallest of the three

The most recent job Sean Adcock built was a third tall wall, this time a garden wall in Beddgelert, North Wales.
About 8 feet high (8-10 inches buried),this wall made of slatey material had lots of tracing in the bottom half especially. The throughs were put in at approximately  24 and 42  and 60 inches, all laid 36 inches apart. The batter was about 1:8 ( Sean usually does 1-6) becaue the wall needed to be around 16 inches at top for coping.  A seven foot wall (before copes) would have had to have nearly 4 feet of base At 1-8 batter, only a three foot wide base is needed.

The reasons a wider base was not thought to be a good idea were many, including the fact that the original wall was 3 foot narrow presumably allowing  more garden room.
In the end the owner, a builder suggested he lay a 3 foot concrete slab footing for the wall (the appropriateness of which is an argument for another day perhaps). 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Tallish Wall

Ruthin wall, in North Wales, was built last year end of September 2018. It’s worth taking a long look at this wall. Single skin retaining wall, most of the stones in lower half are 2-3 foot into bank. The footings and end were done with machine but all the rest wrangled into place by hand. Sean says, maneuvering a big stone up to the wall is often harder than putting it into the wall.

This magnificent wall is just over 6 feet, including coping.  

“Nothing hugely special”, says Adcock, “taller than I normally get to buid , built just before the Blaen y nant wall.   It’s my favourite type of stone for building, slightly rounded glacial bouldres/fieldstone, and of many, the only one I am reasonably happy with (bearing in mind I am never happy).”

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Tall Wall


Sean Adcock did this major repair to an agricultural wall in Blane y Nant,Wales, last year.  It’s a sheep pen, partly retaining (about four feet)and the rest just under six feet tall of free standing wall, (on the uphill side). Where Brenda is climbing it is nearer eleven or twelve feet. 
Sean says he dug out below stream level and wrestled into the base a row of massive boulders each weighing a ton or more then immediately behind these a row of slightly smaller stones were set as the footing for the wall. The first two courses were all stones that were too big to be moved by hand ( track excavator was used) This more or less brought the wall to ground level. 
The wall was a little under 4 feet wide at ground level and from this point was built almost entirely from the uphill side!  Battered 1:6 it is around  24  inches wide below cope. The cope is formed by an irregular cover with a rubble cope on top.  There are no throughs .
 “The stone was plenty big enough anyway,” says Sean, “ ie at through stone height it was around 3 feet wide and the building stones still met/overlapped in the centre of the wall” 
Sean remembers it was horrible stone with “all sorts of silly shapes”
This Property used to be Sean’s main site with over 70.000 square feet of wall face surface rebuilt here over fifteen years, now just occasional repairs and projects.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Ocean’s Bounty

This windfall of rocks, stones and beach pebbles was tossed up onto the parking lot at Point Arena in the big storm last Wednesday. Some of us were there yesterday helping clean up by gathering a carefully hand-picked selection of this beautiful material to be used in future installations back at the Stonezone. And, of course, we had to leave one or two stones balanced, as a thank you to the sea.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Working in mud and rain yesterday

It’s was not too bad building walls kneeling in the mud, working in a steady drizzle yesterday. That’s because it’s way less difficult than. building in an ‘atmospheric river’, which is what were experiencing today. And so were taking the day off.

Sunday, January 13, 2019


I imagined that very long ago there must have been an ancient city here in Yosemite National Park 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Was there a once upon a time ?

These Kern Canyon cliff formations suggest there was once-upon-a-time likely a civilization of enchanted rock dwellers here in the Sierras, living in ancient structures carved out of the bedrock, creating elaborately clustered habitations for themselves 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Time is an Element

The Squire (the squarish granite rock), having told the other rocks how he had ended up meeting the beautiful round stone Rhonda, when he had been first washed up on the beach at St Bees Head, continued to tell the story of how their friendship slowly evolved.

At first they gave each other a lot of time.   They learned to appreciate each other's various facets. The main thing that they had going for them was the fact that they were both fairly elderly. It was an important part of their makeup. Being many million years old enabled them to have perspective, and not feel they had to rush into anything. The fact that they were both 'mature' was one of the essential elements to their 'getting along, as essential as oxygen and silicon, the other two most common elements contained in rocks.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Stone Love

Having been asked how he and Rhonda (the roundish stone ) had met, the Squire, (the squarish stone) launched off on an epic tale about their romantic past.

"Many many years back, Rhonda left the glacier and eventually ended up living on the west coast of what was not yet England, not far from what was to become town of St Bees. She spent all her days on the beach sunning herself, listening to rock and roll ( the sounds of tumbling stones and smaller pebbles being rocked back and forth by the ocean waves) and enjoying the constant changing of the seasons. 
Years passed and much of the surrounding coastline eroded away - in one area exposing the high red sandstone cliffs now known as St Bees Head. Rhonda had been fortunate enough to keep her place on the coast though many other rocks living closer to the ocean had come and gone."

"Finally," he said "some time after that, humans came on to the scene. They gradually moved into the area." 

The Squire was guessing, about 3000 years ago. "That's right, isn't it, Rhonda?"

"You're telling story dear, I'm going to stay out of it."

"Well anyway from that time on, from what I gather," said the Squire, "Rhonda didn't have a dull moment. She was often picked up, sometimes two or three times a day by various strangers passing by along the beach."

"I never minded the attention." Rhonda added.

"Many years passed, and Rhonda enjoyed the reputation of being one of the oldest residents along that part of the coast"

"But go on, tell the story about the big storm."

"Yes well," returned the Squire, " here is where I come into the picture. Some time later, I'd say back about 175 years ago, while I was sailing from North America in the hold along with a lot of other granite ballast, we strayed from our course and ended up running aground not far from Whitehaven. Running aground was tough break for the ship and the crew, but it was a nice break for us. I spent a good few years enjoying a long relaxing ocean-bed holiday."

"The storm, dear."

He paused again, looked at the rain and then launched into her favorite part of the story.

"At the turn of the century a very big storm blew in off Iceland. There were huge great breakers the size of small mountains, smashing into the shore. It churned the coastline waters up so violently many of us were washed up onto the beach."

"We ended up meeting and falling in love."

"I believe you wanted me to tell the story dear?"

The Squire went on  "I had been cast up onto the briny shore only to find myself lying beside the most beautiful piece of rounded granite I had ever seen in my life. "

"You were quite a hunk yourself"

"I knew it was going to be the start of a lovely long 'rocky relationship'. Oh, It was quite 'Tectonic' at first, of course . We discussed how far the continental drift had strayed, and how the earth's lithospheric crust was made.

They both sighed and looked at each other adoringly. 

"We talked of many things," Squire mused as Rhonda gazed off dreamily into the hills.

"Of shale and schist, and sealing cracks
And amethyst and slates
And why debris forms mountain scree
And why the earth has plates

We spoke of sub-atomic mass
Of particles and strings,
Of quantum leaps and isotopes
And earth's magnetic rings."

The Squire stopped and took a breath. "Things started to develop fairly quickly after that."

To be continued

Monday, January 7, 2019

Blind Folded

You can't stop that special stone from seeing. You can try to blindfold it but it still sees everything. And it still looks at you in that all knowing stone-like kind of way. It doesn't have to say anything. 

You can try to pretend you don't see it. Or rather, ignore the feeling that you have this sense that you both have some sort of special connection. You can try to imagine you don't need it. And that you can walk past it on the beach. 

Or you can think that you can just cast it off into the lake, and be done with it. 

Or better yet, bring it home and put it on a shelf, and that will be enough. Maybe write something on it. Draw over it.  Maybe just cover it completely with paint?

But in the end it still sees inside of you. It knows you better than you do. Because the connection is there. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Folded Hands

I close my eyes and fold my hands
My fingers turn to flattened strands
They bend in grooves along each digit
And thus I have no way to fidget

My folded hands, I must confess
Look stranger yet, when more compressed
They buckle in and merge in layers
And thusly poised, I say my prayers

I find my words more concentrated
With hands thus bound and laminated
I know not how to unclasp them 
I have no strength to ungrasp them

But when my words have all reached heaven
I thank the Lord, and say 'amen'
For when I open up my eyes
The folds are gone, to my surprise.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Sheep Folds

There are sheep in the folds
And folds in the sheep.

But not oppressed 
Safe in snuggly sleep

Fitted sheeps 
Tucked into corners 
To keep them from
Their sheepish fits.

No wrinkle of danger 
No cause to be afraid 

Rocks with flocks 
Hemmed in at every stage 
      So as not to in crease their chances of wandering straight off the...

Origami walls and ledges 
Neatly wrap the outside edges
From the straights
And from the narrows 
The sheep all safe from
Slings and arrows

Folded wooly blanket coziness
Enclosed and fully flanked in stoniness 
A shelter from unruly wind and cold
As safe as in the days of old.

origami 'mouton' by Beth Johnson
poem and illustration by me

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Folded Into Itself

The Mobius Strip is an inviting shape to try to use in a dry stone wall design. It is a wall with only one side. It circle/spirals around as it folds into itself. It's a surface that continues becoming the top, the side, the bottom, the side and the top again.

We could be at the top of our game and still really only be at the bottom (the 'game' being our work) if we only built mobius shaped structures. 

How would we know? 

Like much of life, top and bottom are often the same side of the same thing. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The layers keep folding over.

Folds are one of the most common phenomena you can find in geology. A fold is usually produced by plainer layers (usually sedimentary rocks) which are curved by sympathetic efforts. The kind of folding in the photo below is called a Chevron and its main feature is that the angle of hinges is very acute, almost without curvature. The undoctored photo (below) is of a completely natural stone fold formation found in Greece.   The image was found on Geologiaaldia's Instagram feed.