Tuesday, June 25, 2019

We have this impression that we're in control

We have this impression that we're in control. The thing is we are kind of in control, but it goes both directions. There always has to be equilibrium. For a universe to allow something to go one way it has to be able to go the other way too. Sometimes at the same time.

Monday, June 24, 2019

To bee or not to bee.

We completed our bee bowle structure yesterday. The bees in the ‘skep’ you see in the niche on the right , loved it. The bees on the right have not arrived yet.

The entire project including a lovely set of stone stairs, a large retaining wall, a tree well, an access ramp, several niches, bee sculpture and other carvings was created by the friendly gathering of dry stone enthusiasts and professional instructors you see here.

My two best helpers Christina and Helena sat down for a brief moment for a photo before Helena (on the right ) had to return to the Czech Repepublic.

Friday, June 21, 2019

An Irish Tower

Patrick McAfee gave a great presentation here in Austria last night at the Garden Landscaping School in Langenlois. This is an Irish Tower he designed, taught us how to build and helped construct himself in California.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A visit to Hubert Seidl’s

Thea alvin sits in front of dry stonework by Hubert . It’s a kind of aqueduct that sends water to a stone-lined pond he’s made in a peaceful dry stone courtyard.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Reclaiming and repurposing the past.

Hubert Seidel has been building with hundreds of tons of reclaimed stone over the last dozen years. His property near Krem Austria is a delight to visit. Arches niches sculpture aqueducts seating areas ponds, and much more are there to be discovered, and enjoyed. I need to devote another page to his work tomorrow. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

A bit of an inspired innovation

It occurred to me on a recent job we were doing, that horizontally laid stones in a coursed retaining wall with ‘vertically’ laid backing would be actually much stronger than having both back and front stones conventionally laid horizontally. I’ve asked a colleague, and he agrees.
The upright stones at the back are much tighter, they can’t sheer/slide the way they would be prone to if laid flat, and they are much easier to fit in place than trying to lay them level.
So that’s going to be the way we do it from now on.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

On Target

Why are we so concerned about the cracks. We are always trying to get rid of them, or at least make them smaller . We have the sense that the crack represents failure. We don’t like the way cracks make something look old, and therefore kind of useless.  We think, if there were no cracks everything would be okay.

But cracks are here to stay. In fact they are kind of okay! Sure, some big ones might need to be seen to but there is often no need to try to make the smaller ones smaller. There is definitely no need to try to glue everything together so there are no cracks.

In a dry stone wall it’s the pattern of cracks that allows the thing to stay connected.
Something that doesn’t have any cracks, or can’t crack, can end up breaking, and that, is a very different thing.
Cracks in a way, are what keeps things together.

Cracks allow for movement while keeping the context of overall shape.
Cracks allow for renewed tightness between the whole.

If we aim for tightness it means the thing will have to have joints. 
If there are no cracks there is only static resistance. Nothing grips. A thing that can’t crack can only shatter. We need to get a grip on the fact that it is the humble crack allows for us and everything else to stay on target. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Hands Free and Vertically Challenged

With so many hands-free devices at our finger tips, all this handy technologically designed to keep us safe, makes it hard to find things for our hands to do that involve the possibility of getting them scratched or pinched. Luckily there is still the activity of building with stones. 

Maybe the old expression - it’s all fun till someone gets hurt - should be changed to, it’s not that much fun if there’s no risk of getting hurt. Anyway apart from a few scratches, we had a bang up time building with about 40 tons of this pile of very odd shaped chunks of random granite, even though it was pretty challenging to try to build ‘vertically’. 

 It comes in such a lovely variety of pastel shades. Well actually, it comes in trucks from a quarry an hour north of Salzburg. 

Thanks to Pflastermeister Ing. ( Mario and Carola Tomasek) for the opportunity to present a different spin on the craft of building in the dry stone method, for the hand full of students here in Schwanenstadt, Austria. More photos to come.

Friday, June 14, 2019

From chaos to order.

As dry stone wallers, we look at the chaos of a random pile of stones and try to make some kind of fence of it.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

How much do students gather in another language.

Teaching walling in Austria this week with my fragmented vocabulary ( very broken German) the problem of overcoming the translation barrier is happily hurdled by having the students first learn to build miniature 'barriers' with 'broken fragments' of stone that they previously gathered.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Volkswagens and Crib Mattresses

Like when you say 'it was the size of a Volkswagen', I’m thankful there are common things that people are familiar with, that make it easier to describe how big some of the stones are, that we have to try to move sometimes - like crib mattresses.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Making the world a little less ugly , one ‘Johnny on the Spot’ at a time.

Our two day ‘Hide-a-porta-potty-with-a-dry-stone-wall workshop’was held last weekend. It went well. And now the portable toilet is well hid. No, it wasn’t right there, being used while we built the wall!

Anyway, the upper third of the wall was completed later by Mark and me . It’s over 8 feet high and hides a lot of shitty plastic.

I really don’t know why you don’t see a lot more dry stone partition walls like this, or maybe I should say, I don’t know why we can’t start to see a lot fewer of these ugly toilets at outdoor venues everywhere ?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Painting with her eyes

I Collect Rocks, Paint Eyes On Them And Return Them To The Landscape To Be Found Or Lost Forever 

On a recent residency with Q Bank Gallery in Queenstown, Tasmania I began a project of transforming collected rocks into painted eyes and returning them to the landscape to be found or lost forever.
Queenstown has an extensive mining history and there were many unusual rocks everywhere. So I began a collection and what started as something for myself grew into a treasure hunt/community art project.

Jennifer Allnutt is a contemporary figurative artist based in Melbourne, Australia.


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Writers Block

As a person who tries to think of ways of doing fairly interesting things with pretty ordinary stones, Its much easier when you experience any kind of Creative Block