Dry stone workshop instruction has taken me to new places, given me a chance to experiment with a variety of stone types and introduced me to lots of interesting people. Stone is the common denominator for getting us together in a workshop but it becomes less and less the focus of our day as we get to know each other. Personal and professional stories are told. Personalities emerge. Working side by side, trust grows. Friendships are forged. Everyone has something unique to offer to the mix. Participants go away at the end of a weekend, or a week, with mutual appreciation. Workshop walls may not be the highest form of craft but they're special in other ways. Something more has been created than just a dry stone structure.
Thinking back to last August's workshop at the English Harbour Art Centre in Newfoundland one individual comes to mind. Bela Simo was born in Transylvania, Romania and trained as a sculptor under a stone carving parish priest in Austria. He lived for eighteen years in the Canadian Yukon, spending many summers in a canoe exploring the wilderness, alone. He now has his studio in Clarenville, NF. At the end of our workshop Bela suggested that everyone sign their name on a rock in the wall with a marker. He then etched them into the stone surfaces with an electric grinder. The signatures were the perfect finishing touch to our collective enterprise.