Posts in Lecture
A Stone Livestock Pound

What was the first public structure built to safeguard harmony in early agricultural communities? Who were the hog reeves and why were they sometimes recently married, young men? What did impecunious pound-brechers do to deserve 30 lashes? These questions and more will be answered during a program I’ll be giving at the Dummerston Historical Society’s quarterly meeting Thursday July 18th at 7:30 pm. I hope you’ll join me for an evening exploring the history of Dummerston’s town pound and take a walk around the dry stone pound, erected ten years ago, next to the Historical Society building.

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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.

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Writing and Reading

This past Wednesday I did a reading at the Aldrich, Barre Vermont’s public library, a beautiful old edifice that well serves its modern patrons. Excerpts from my three published books were assembled under five themes and read from newest to oldest. Audience members remained in their seats for a full hour! The after-questions were intelligent and sincere. I’m grateful to all who came to listen and converse.

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Dry Stone Art in Nature

Longevity self-validates. Just to have lasted decades in an occupation brings with it a certain degree of credibility. A reputation develops around what’s been done. The integrity of the stoneworker lies in their accumulated projects.

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TCLF Garden Dialogues: Artists in Residence: Vermont

A fourth generation of the Key family has begun to ramble Winhall Hollow. Pond and stream, woods and fields, are the wider setting for their active home and garden life. Into the mix comes long-time friend and dry stone specialist, Dan Snow. He has constructed numerous stone features on the grounds around their house and barns. Stone from the property has been used to fashion steps, patios, retaining walls and fences. Robin Key’s landscape design has seamlessly woven a contemporary aesthetic into the historic fabric of the Hollow.

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A Year in Stone

Once again, dry stone construction has taken me around the seasons. Work that employed the simplest of means culminated in a complexity of projects and events. There were presentations, workshops, consultations and proposals. There were utilitarian constructions, memorials and art installations. There was even a grant awarded and inclusion in a magazine article and a book. The year in stone took me around New England, to other countries and back in time.

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Two Presentations: Sourcing Stone for Dry Stone Constructions

The subject of both talks focused on three questions: What makes sturdy dry stone constructions? Where does stone come from? Where do designs come from? In the second question, I pressed the point of seeking out alternatives to what has become the most common go-to place for stone procurement: The Home and Garden Center. I encouraged audience members to investigate six potential local resources: reclaim and reuse, quarry grout, farm dumps, gravel pits, scarified ground and loose bedrock. I suggested that by hunting for the treasures that may be laying just out of sight on the fringes of mainstream retail commerce they can reduce global environmental impact, construct works that are naturally compatible with their surroundings and keep their dollars circulating in the local economy.

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Garden Inspirations Workshop at the Historic Latchis Theatre in Brattleboro Vermont

Escape to Vermont for a green day in January! Please join me and other garden enthusiasts from around the region at the historic Latchis Theater in Brattleboro for a “Garden Inspirations Workshop” on January 25, 2014. Julie Moir Messervy, Helen O’Donnell, Gordon Hayward and I will offer lively presentations with images on the big screen. All ticket proceeds will go to the Seats and Ceiling Campaign of the Latchis Theater.

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Built to Last: Dry Stone Design and Construction

In my presentation, I will offer a prescription for getting the most out of your building stone resources, and for performing field observations of existing dry stone structures with the aid of four key points for solid construction. The scope of the talk will range from practical advice on managing a building site to imaginative suggestions for creating stone-centric designs. The blending of greenscaping with grayscaping to foster ecological relationships, and echo historical patterns of land use, will be discussed in the session. I will offer ideas for addressing landscape erosion control issues with durable, sustainable dry stone structures.

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Architecture and Design - Alive at Keene State College

Over the past few months I’ve been a guest speaker and adviser to senior students in the architecture department. Their thesis project was to develop a program, and design the buildings and grounds for The Water House,  a destination spa and environmental education center being built in western Massachusetts. The studio was sponsored by the New England distributor of Marvin windows, A.W. Hastings. Prizes were offered to the top three designs, judged by me and and a dozen other landscape professionals and regional architects.

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Working Stone

Two days worth of indoor stone slinging last week completed the central stone feature at the Vermont Flower Show. Jared, T.J., Jamie, Brian and I finished up “Craggy Mountain” just as the trees, mulch and flowers closed in around us. On Friday I offered my slide-talk, “Working Stone,” to a standing-room-only crowd. The following words were part of the presentation’s introduction.

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A Craggy Stone Peak at the Vermont Flower Show

The past two days have been a swirl of activity as months of planning finally came together, including the 25-ton dry stone installation created by Jared Flynn, Jamie Masefield, T.J. Mora, Brian Post and me. Behind the scenes, Charley McMartin coordinated the collection and delivery of the stone and will take care of the break-down Sunday night.

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Gardening on Granite

Recently, I was a guest reader during a lecture by Gordon Hayward about his most recent book, Gardening on Granite, at the New Canaan Nature Center. The book was commissioned and privately published by our friend and client, Teddy Berg. Between its 160 pages of photographs and prose is a beautifully documented story of building and planting a mountaintop garden in Walpole, New Hampshire. I worked intermittently, over an 18-year period, creating walls, features and follies on Teddy and Peter Berg’s property to create the framework for Gordon’s garden designs and installations.

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ET Modern Gallery Presentation - Stone and Art in Nature

Blustery winds carried a host of folks into ET Modern Gallery for my presentation, ‘Stone and Art in Nature’ on Saturday. So many of them were old friends that it felt more like a party than a slide show. Edward Tufte’s Chelsea gallery is a fantastic venue for informal get-togethers. His latest sculpture series, “All Possible Photons”, shimmers and shadow-dances on the walls.

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TICKON Diamond Mines

The building of “Diamond Mines” was a delightful experience due to the many wonderful people who helped make it possible. Thanks go to my new Danish friends; Alfio, Lone, Ole, Birthe and Trine. To on-site workers Francesca and Jared goes my grateful appreciation. Always behind the scenes and in the middle of it all was Elin, who supported me in every moment and was my guiding light at every turn.

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TICKON - Diamond Mines Discovered in Tranekær Castle Park

Working hands inform thought and awaken understanding of the art builder's place in the natural world. Undulant lines and patterned spaces are the result of many choices made by the art builder who recognizes, and utilizes, the unique character of stone.  The presentation will examine the many uses of stone in art; how stone can support a design, or simply be the art itself. It will also explore the "give and take" experience of working in nature, and the connection to spirit expressed through stone.

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