Posts in Workshop
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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Length In: Developing a Frame of Mind in Dry Stone Walling

A belief set in the mind of many beginner dry stone wallers is that a wall is what it looks like on the outside, when it actually is what is not seen, on the inside. To accept a wall stone at face value is to believe that what shows is most of what that stone is, but in a well built wall, most is concealed, securely trapped inside the construction.

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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.

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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.

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Action in a Resting Place

Understandably, the present strives toward the future, but there’s nothing to say we can’t, from time to time, turn around and walk backwards into it. In that way, momentum can be maintained while gazing back, with love and affection, on those who have come before. They might appreciate it, and our steps may be lightened by the expanded outlook on our place in time.

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Gravitational Pull and Push

Walling puts stone in relationship to gravity as much, or perhaps more, than it puts stone in relationship to stone. In walling, stone is the language through which we speak to gravity. Students open a dialogue with gravity when they place a stone. With time and practice they begin to direct that conversation.

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Newfoundland: Not Just About “The Rock”

Newfoundland’s well deserved nickname is “The Rock.” You can’t go anywhere on the island without running into some new geologic wonder to explore. An ample supply of loose building stone is what first drew me to Canada’s easternmost province but in the five, annual pilgrimages I’ve made to Newfoundland since 2010 I’ve discovered that there’s much more going on there.

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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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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.

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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.

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Woody Point Dry Stone Walling Workshop

The creation of a low, curving wall that leads the way up a hill to the newly restored St. Patrick’s church will be the goal of a dry stone walling workshop, July 19-20, in Woody Point, Newfoundland. Ken Tuach, a Level 3 DSWA craftsman, has asked me to join him in presenting the workshop to area stone enthusiasts. This two-day workshop will offer a challenge to beginners and improvers, alike. Workshop participants will be building a short retaining wall on a gentle slope. With a low student-teacher ratio, participants will learn the best practices and techniques for dry stone walling.

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Environmental Art & Dry Stone Walling Workshop Newfoundland Summer 2014

The purpose of the workshop is to discover terrestrial habitats, artifacts, microcosms and vistas that excite curiosity and wonder about a place, identify existing order and disorder for the purpose of exploring ways art can be an evolutionary partner with the environment, and to seek out conditions conducive to the development of creative interrelationships with the natural world. The workshop will take a hands-on approach to making art that springs from, and is absorbed by, its surroundings.
DATE: Sunday July 27 - Thursday July 31, 2014. Participants interested in a 2-day workshop, are welcome to join in on the Wednesday/Thursday of the 5-day workshop.
LOCATION: English Harbour Arts Centre, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, Canada.

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Stone Trust Workshop May 2014

On Friday, the Stone Trust workshop organizer, Jared Flynn, was overjoyed by the prospect of rain for Saturday morning. Having produced many dry stone workshops alongside Dutton Farm Road in Dummerston, Vermont over the past three years he knew what the makings of a classic weekend looked like. It starts out damp and dreary. By noon the rain stops and the orchard view appears in the valley. On Sunday morning pale skies turn blue and Mount Monadnock crowns the horizon line of distant hills. And so it was this year for fifteen stalwart participants. Saturday’s drizzle made way for Sunday’s sun.

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Stone Trust Dry Stone Walling Workshop

Who pays good money to do hard labor on their weekend off? Are they a bunch of nuts? No, they’re two dozen good eggs who joined in on The Stone Trust’s dry stone walling workshop. Lead by DSWA instructors Andrew Pighills, Brian Post and me, they studiously applied the rules they learned for wall building and restored a long stretch of fence (originally constructed one hundred years ago by ten Italian masons) to its former glory. Thanks to all for a great weekend of walling.

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English Harbour Arts Centre Dry Stone Walling Workshops

Reflecting on the recently completed 2-day workshop at English Harbour Art Centre, I begin to see that perhaps the most useful function I perform as a walling instructor is offering permission to those in attendance to try something new. For a participant, the workshop setting is a green light at an intersection that otherwise would be blinking red. Because the building site has been prepared with footings dug, guidelines strung and stones laid out on the ground, around, the usual impediments to getting started building a wall have been removed. A participant feels free to act and is encouraged to begin.

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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!”

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2013 Dry Stone Workshop at English Harbor Art Center

A distant foghorn, waves lapping against the harbor shore and the “blow” from a humpback whale surfacing in the bay; these are the sounds that often greet visitors coming to English Harbour, Newfoundland. This summer’s workshop goal will be to create a companion piece to the “Mock Maze” that was built in 2012. Participants will collaborate on creating a design, and then construct it on the grounds of the art center.

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Dry Stone Walling Workshop in Norway

Every baker knows it takes good ingredients to make a tasty pie. Now that plans for the dry stone workshop at Turtagrø, Norway have come together, I can see that our week in July is going to be a fantastic time. We have a beautiful setting, excellent accommodations and an abundance of building stone. All that’s missing are a few more enthusiastic folks to sign up and meet us at Tutagrø. I hope you will be the one who completes the pie!

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