Posts in Dry Stone
Embracing Ambiguity in Outdoor Spacemaking

It’s the spacemaker’s obligation to create flexible surroundings that can adapt to situations as they develop. Not knowing what’s to come is unsettling, but without one foot in the unknown we can’t prepare a place for advancement. A built outdoor environment can be exciting simply for its possibilities.

Read More
Arch Bridge Workshops

While there remain, across New England, examples of stream-vaulting bridges built more than 100 years ago, the builders of those spans have long since left us. That’s why it’s particularly poignant that The Stone Trust’s recent tour of historic dry stone bridges coincided with the construction of a new one.

Read More
Dowsing for Genesis

Basically, wallers are spare-parts jobbers. The loose pieces of indigenous stone they collect and parcel out are really nothing more than the duft of earth’s crowning mantle. In rare cases, bedrock, stone’s “birthmother”, is present on a building site and can come into play as a defining element of a dry stone design.

Read More
Modeling Clay as a Medium for Design Development

Clay sketches are the instruments of communication I use to express ideas. The truthfulness of any idea is uncovered by thinking and working it through using three-dimensional materials. With clay, a concept forms through the fingers. Questions about a design come up in the activity of applying clay that might not otherwise be addressed until a project is underway. Solving problems in small scale is more easily done than at the full scale of a construction site.

Read More
Dry Stone Walling Workshop at The Stone Trust

It must be said, “The Stone Trust Has It All.” That’s the conclusion I came away with after spending the weekend instructing a Features Workshop there. Not only were the participants an enthusiastic group of talented individuals, the panels they created display the wide variety of possibilities that dry stone offers.

Read More
The Solitary Stoneworker

Conditions being what they were of late with snow storm after snow storm, I stayed away from the stone project in-progress and gave myself a propertyless assignment. The premise was to compile a collection of photos that illustrate the work life of a solitary stoneworker; with myself as the subject and past projects as the source material.

Read More
The Holy Well

Excavation of the hillside spring revealed layers of geologic stratification. Top soil lay on coarse gravel over pure sand on top of clay hardpan. The design called for ground water that trickled out of the sand layer to be trapped in a hollow under a half-shell overhang. Recycled slate from building foundation ruins and cobbles from a gravel pit were combined to shape the dry stone installation.

Read More
Stone Well Cover

I can only imagine the pride a 19th century homesteader might have had, on the completion of a hand-dug, stone-lined water well. The clear, cold water contained in it would have been an essential ingredient for any hill farm’s success. Some old wells are still in use today at venerable New England homes, while other 30 foot deep examples of the well digger’s art may be found next to abandoned cellar holes in the backwoods. Although underground and out of sight, such a towering achievement deserved to be crowned, and many were, with a beautiful stone well cover. The cover helped keep the well from contamination, and children and livestock safe from falling in.

Read More
The Growing Pumpkin Seed

Temperatures in the 20’s F, steady 10 mph winds gusting to 25. Stones fastening themselves to the surface of the ground with frost. Time to close down walling activities for the year, right? Wrong. The wind chill was definitely bracing on the work-site hilltop this week but building went on apace. In fact, some things got easier as a result of the cold. No more wet gloves or bucket loader-eating mud holes. Underfoot turned to hard, no-slip surfaces, bringing welcome stability for plucking and plopping stone.

Read More
Building the Ruminator

In the beginning the idea was to make it a solitary object out in the field north of the garden. I had visions of a compost carousel with four pie-shaped stalls. Then it was a long barrow-shaped affair with tractor ramps to the top of the bins. I knew little about composting but I was having lots of fun with modeling clay imagining the construction of a dry stone Ruminator. Scale model making is an enjoyable pursuit that helps develop spatial acuity. The process of shaping clay is slow enough for deliberation to take place and fast enough for a form to observably emerge. Results unfold in an organic fashion.

Read More
English Harbour Arts Centre Stone Art Workshop

The English Harbour fog machine has been churning out invisibility for a solid 24 hours. Before I arrived here a week ago the southwest wind that funnels moisture off Trinity Bay into the land bowl above the harbor had kept the village cloaked in a cotton wool shroud for fourteen days. Fortunately, the recently concluded environmental art workshop maintained blue skies above for each and every one of its five days. There were long-distance views in every direction from the headlands where the six participants worked on their dry stone installation.

Read More
Woody Point Workshop

Last evening the atmosphere softened to dusty rose across the far horizon. An osprey wheeled its way around the shoreline heading across Green Bay toward an incandescent object rising from the shimmering surface of the sea. Two hours earlier, I was at Ken Tuach’s stone yard wrapping up a day of DSWA examination. E and I then made a mad dash from western Newfoundland to the Baie Verte Peninsula just in time to glimpse the majestic iceberg across the water before the darkness descended.

Read More
The Millstone

The use of an old millstone as a lawn ornament is a notion that never grows old. They’re seen laid flat with flowers growing from the central axle hole, or set on edge with the lower portion buried in the ground. The mill building, where the stone once turned, may be long gone but the stone endures and remains a symbol of industry and ingenuity from times past.

Read More
Turtagrø Dry Stone Walling Workshop in Norway

While the Northeast of the USA was sweltering, the weather in the Jotunheimen mountains of Norway was bracing. Cold winds and cloudy skies for the Turtagtrø dry stone walling workshop had me and the participants glad for some vigorous physical activity to stay warm. Of course, for the Norwegians it qualified as mild weather. As Morten gleefully pointed out, “If it’s not snowing, it must be summer!”

Read More
Repairing a Dry Stone Retaining Wall

Due to a number of structural problems, an eight-year-old, dry stone retaining wall in Hanover, New Hampshire was dangerously close to collapsing. I was asked by the property owner to remedy the situation. The rebuilding of a 6’x30’ section of retaining wall is often a straightforward business. But because this wall was in a well established, backyard garden with poor access and little room to store materials at the site, the build was a logistical puzzle. Concern was added to those challenges when, as work commenced, a municipal sewer line was discovered to be located scarily close to the back of the wall.

Read More