The Stone Eye – Three Dry Stone Building Styles

Showers every day added up to 2” of precipitation and sloppy working conditions at the stone eye project this week. Safety glasses fogged and the mud sucked at my boots but I was glad to be outside making progress on the construction. The lead-sinker hanging guide-point system is proving to be very reliable and flexible. When I need to move a group of points out of the way to pitch stone into the center, I simply swing them up to the wire grid and hook them there temporarily. As I finish an area of stone work I unclip and remove the point lines.

Moving into a new area of the construction I string up more sinkers. The distance they drop down from the overhead grid is determined by their master-plan X/Y/Z coordinates. For instance, where the #74 X axis intersects with the #15 Y axis the sinker hangs 34” below the grid, that point being the height of the stone work at that specific location. I’m always looking toward the next two or three points in space as I set a stone because it has to be aligned to conform with the developing curved surface.

Creating compound curves in vertically set dry stone requires most pieces to be hammer trimmed. Sometimes the face needs shaping. More often the sides need work to create a more pie-shaped piece to fit snugly with the stone coming before and the one coming after. The stones rest on each other’s edges, or, as the curve leaves the side of the construction and becomes the top surface, they rest on the crushed-stone center packing. In the case of this sculpture, the style of walling goes from horizontal coursed walling, to vertical random walling, to edge-set paving. 

© All rights reserved Dan Snow In the Company of Stone

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4 Responses to The Stone Eye – Three Dry Stone Building Styles

  1. Jeff Fairfield May 17, 2012 at 2:09 am #

    I’m practically speechless, this project absolutely sets a new standard Dan. I sincerely enjoy reading the updates and looking at the progress photos. I look forward to seeing the finished piece, as well as the opportunity to catch up with you in June.

    • Dan Snow May 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

      Even after you have followed the basic rules of dry stone construction for decades there is always some uncertainty as to how well a work is going. That is what keeps it interesting. What makes it thrilling is to conceive something so different and complex that it remains a mystery all the way to the end. Look forward to seeing you in June, Jeff.

  2. Matt Carter May 16, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    What a project! Even in sloppy weather it looks like a joy to build. (probably not always as fun as it looks, though.)

    • Dan Snow May 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

      My desire in life is to “bathe in the eternal mildness of joy,” as Herman Melville wrote in ‘Moby Dick.’ The only bathing I did this week was in rain water!

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