Friday, March 15, 2024

What to do with the whites.

The dark gritty oatmeal textured fieldstone granite distributed across the rolling landscape here in Virginia is peppered with a beautiful salt-coloured quartzite material. In some places in Rappahannock County these stark white rocks make up about twenty percent of the usable material for building dry stone walls. The question presents itself : What do we do with it ? Does it look good randomly dotted in the walls. Sometimes not.  From a distance it can look like wet plastic shopping bags having blown across the fields, all got hung up on the walls. This is usually not a satisfying look.

If we are intent on using all the stones available, including the white quartzite, there are several imaginative solutions to the problem. One wall I’ve seen here incorporates the white rocks by creating random belts of coursed white rocks worked into the mix.


Another idea involves using the white material strictly for the tops of the walls.

One outbuilding I came across in my bike ride had dark stones making up the whole the west side and used all lighter coloured quartzite rocks for the east wall.

Whatever the case, the building material we wallers choose to use is not purchased at some big box building supply store. It’s not manufactured cookie-cutter, all one size, one colour stuff. No it is sourced locally by hunter gatherers like ourselves who are thankful for such abundance of diversified natural material however it comes. We appreciate, and take seriously the challenge of, being able to accommodate its diversity of colour and shape, and happy enough to put it all to good use. 

I think there is a parable here somewhere.