Thursday, June 23, 2022


 If you walk far enough along the shore of Lake Ontario where we live, you come to a long section of a crumbly cliff made up of many loose chunks of rugged weathered limestone 

It's looks like it was all dumped there from above where the railway line comes troublingly close to the cliff edge. Perhaps train loads of rocks were tipped over the lake side in an attempt to shore up the shore . In any case the area below makes a great place to experiment with different building methods and/or just playing with stone ideas. You just have to be careful not to cause an avalanche !

This is where the germ of the 'the dry stone ship crashed into the shore'( or perhaps less violently,  ' the ship run aground ') idea came to me. 

I'd been trying out different techniques for building the cocoon installation I had been starting to think about doing sometime around January 2021. The opening I had now started to dig into the side of the cold rocky cliff supplied me with lots of stones to then build up the sides .

The resulting shape began to look less and less oval looking ( cocoon-like ?) and more pointed , more like a gothic portal opening, or maybe a ship's prow. 

I built into the cliff as far as I dared and extended the walls of the boat shaped opening with the newly acquired stones, towards the water's edge. The resulting space provided a shelter from the wind and a comfortable resting place.  This playful shore project was the beginnings of thinking about designing (and building permanently) not just a cocoon now  but rather some kind of boat shaped dry stone portal thing .  Craig and Brian came back with me later in February to add more stones to the gunnels and then sit comfortably out of the cold wind while I took a photo.

To be continued 

Saturday, June 11, 2022


About fifty students from the local Bobcaygeon public school were invited yesterday to visit the historic dry stone restoration work we've been doing at Case Manor.  I wondered how I might plug into their world and do a bit of a comparison. It occurred to me I might get their attention by asking if any of them played Minecraft . Just about all of them raised their hand. 

 I pointed out that building dry stone walls is like building real walls, and maybe even more fun, than making pretend blocky things in the digital world of Minecraft. By the surprised look on their faces, I think that idea had never occurred to them.

 They were totally on board ( and not bored ) from then on. They asked questions and watched inquisitively as we discussed things like  throughstones , hearting and the merits of building with gathered random chunks of local limestone, instead of newly manufactured stuff ( or virtually generated modules) 


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Amazing Stone Feetwork

. ' '

This is not the usual hands-on dry stone stuff. No. This time it’s a ‘feets-on’ experience.  And what a curious complexity of sensations it is, as the feeling is transmitted up through the feet shuffling across a floor of loose pebbles. This tingly tactile feeling , usually only experienced walking barefoot along a stoney beach, has been somewhat replicated inside the Temple of Imperfections, where several wheelbarrow loads of flattish beach pebbles have been laid down in a thin layer, across the concrete surface of the floor. The choice of having the pebbles spread loosely around, in no fixed arrangement, was a departure from the fixed spiralling pattern usually associated with pebble work laid in cement.  The pebbles can still be played with , and attractive patterns can be created by those who enter the temple , but it's the ‘foot-feely’ pleasure of walking over  loose stones that becomes the most attractive part of the unconventional floor treatment we decided upon in the end . I was delighted to hear the positive account of a chiropodist, who told some fellow barefoot bystanders inside the temple, after entering the structure barefoot during the StoneZone open house tour last winter, that the activity of walking on such a 'beach-like' floor would definitely be of great therapeutical benefit.

‘Look Mom. No hands!’
A talented participator the day people were invited to see the temple (barefoot) enjoyed doing some fancy footwork during his visit

Amada Stinson did this lovely arrangement, after everyone left.


Saturday, June 4, 2022

The Oculus Man

Super talented stone mason and all round wonderful person, Matt Driscol was the man given the job of creating an oculus out of stone, actually two of them, ( avoiding the plural ) for the opening over the top of the dome.  

The process involved carefully drilling many holes around the circumference in a 24 inch diameter circle in a large flagstone slab of mica schist, and then chiselling and hammering ( disconnecting the dots? ) to eventually dislodge a fully intact circle of stone, and thus thereby creating the round opening in the slab we needed for the dome. 

We decided on a second oculus, which he cut out the same way, but first drilled and cut a smaller circumference circle, and then drilled and cut out the final 24 inch ring dimension from that ( you can see the resulting bonus ring of stone hanging on the tree on the right )

The first oculus was hoisted up (via the Gradal) and then lifted by hand over top of the a course of random stone 'tiles' around the roof opening and then, after fitting the final course of (pre-shaped) stones over and around the first oculus, the second oculus was then lifted gently over the top of everything. , creating  a kind of semi-watertight seal, and a beautiful finish to the Temple of Imperfections