Rebuilding a Dry Stone Globe


The stone globe I built in 1983 had become timeworn. The hollow construction cracked open under the strain of carrying its own heft for thirty years. Barbara and Ernie commissioned the original. Their daughter, Nicole, asked me to bring it back to its former glory.

In the intervening years I’ve laid up hundreds of dry stone constructions. I like to think I’ve learned a new thing or two along the way. The process of rebuilding the ball taught me that I both have, and haven’t.

The weakness of the original design stemmed from my youthful daring. I believed I could make a sphere that contained a spacious void. Even though the core became invisible as soon as the work was complete, it gave the piece an inner life known only to me and my clients. And that was worth the risk of working to the extreme limits of dry stone construction.

Its ability to endure the rigors of outdoor exposure over a long period is the hallmark of dry stone. The physical decline of the globe wasn’t something I expected to see in my lifetime. In remaking the piece I was much more conservative in the construction. This time, a much smaller void was concentrated in the top third of the work. The stone is more tightly fitted and the foundation deeper.

One thing that stayed the same was the shape forming method. I erected a central shaft that supported a spinning arm. A plumb bob suspended from the arm was raised at two inch increments and slid, first out, and then in, along the arm as a guide to maintain the correct circumference. The principal behind the guide mechanism I invented to build the globe when I was thirty three still holds true at sixty two.