Monday, April 1, 2019

One man's garbage can is another man's "yes I can".

I came across a photo recently of me standing beside what would have been essentially my first attempt at building a nearly full-scale dry-laid arch entranceway.  Leaning on that temporary arch of glacial field stones, assembled those many years ago, as part of likely the first dry stone wall 
demonstration ever at a Highland Games event in Canada I remember the strange confidence I had felt that my arch idea was going to work. I had never done one before.

I hadn't planned to build one that weekend at the Uxbridge Games. It was supposed to be just a wall demonstration. But by the end of Saturday I'd already used all ten tons of random stone to build a sample length of wall. 

I could either take it down and rebuild it on the next day, or try to think of something completely different. The idea of knocking a hole in the middle and using the freed up stones to build an arch occurred to me as I was driving to the Elgin Park that Sunday morning.

I had to think fast. Next to my DSWAC site there was an empty plastic trash barrel which I decided to 'borrow' for the arch form. I secured it in place with pieces of wood so that the top of the barrel laying on its side would support an arch opening of stones you could conceivably duck your head and walk under.

The arch project attracted way more onlookers that afternoon than my efforts the previous day trying to get people excited about merely building a wall 'without mortar'!
There's nothing like the risk of failure to get people thinking about gravity and physics and the wonderful mystery of arch construction. 

When the form was removed there were cheers of excitement and congratulations. I was elated and relieved that the ad lib demonstration had been such a success.
After the crowd had inspected the arch and all the questions answered and comments addressed, the people dispersed.
People came and admired it the rest of the day.

A fellow came over later in the day, and tossing the wrapper of his ice cream bar into the plastic barrel, walked over to me marvelling at my lowly arch and asked how on earth I had been able to manage to position the stones over the opening all at the same time in order to make it. 
I pointed to the garbage can.