A recent certification test day at The Stone Trust that I was an examiner for got me thinking about the term “free stone”. It can be synonymous with the term “dry stone” but I believe it has more far reaching implications.
Working with “free stone” offers freedom from and freedom to.
The basic rules of dry stone walling, as outlined by the DSWA, are simple and effective. When they’re applied, at home, for a client, in a workshop or during certification testing, no second-guessing is required. The path forward is clear if not always straight. To a large degree, the rules create freedom from uncertainty.
A day alone surrounded by rocks allows for single, un-distracted focus. Progress is methodical and steady. Step by step the wall takes shape. The solitary wall builder is free from the interminable consensus-seeking discussions that often whittle away the workday in a group setting.
Rules are steadfast but not hidebound. With an understanding of what makes a sturdy wall, a stoneworker can expand on the basic form to create new shapes. The logic behind the body of technical methods that constitute the craft of walling can be applied to other schemes. Skills allow freedom to explore.
The stone, itself, will suggest the use of different approaches and procedures. The material encourages experimentation because no two stones, or collections of stones, are alike. An improvisational process develops from direct interaction with it. Stone gives permission to be alive and free in the moment.
Thanks to the ten candidates who successfully completed their Level 1 and 2 tests. It was a pleasure to work with fellow examiner, Michael Weitzner, again. Special thanks to Jared Flynn for helping candidates prepare for their day and making the center a truly unique dry stone walling venue.