Posts tagged dry stone constructions
Self-Archeology in a Stone Environment

The most enjoyable takeaway from examining a wall that has remained true is a validation of the beliefs held while bringing it into being. Dry stone walling is about action in the moment but the results take a while to be proven out. The labor of building is lightened by seeing how honest effort ultimately endures.

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Rocking Back, and Forth

Nothing begins without looking back, so, to get 2019 started, I’m taking stock of 2018’s doings.
Thanks for following along. Now, let’s get this new year rockin!


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Stone Puzzling

A stone wall builder creates the puzzle as they complete it. The way each piece is picked and positioned answers an immediate question and offers up a new one. Every choice invites another. Action in the moment reduces the work ahead while increasing the choices to be made. Though the labor is demanding, it’s tempered by the gifts brought by doing it. Many small satisfactions weld themselves into the gratification of a desire to complete the picture of a stone wall settled into its place on the land.

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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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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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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.

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Mother Earth Asks Dr. Stonework

Having landscaping and stonework done can be a geophysical boost to Earth’s well being in the long run but it’s not without short-term costs. Before the shovel goes in, here are some FAQs for a planet considering a surgical procedure.

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Going Public

Navigating the process of a public art proposal feels like a long walk by flashlight through a snowstorm. Signs are unclear and paths become obscure along the way. Because the destination is not a geographically fixed point, there remain, at the conclusion of an artist’s unsuccessful bid to win a competition, questions about where they traveled, and why the trip dead-ended.

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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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A Ripple Effect in Stone and Steel

As part of its 40th anniversary, the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont commissioned me to create a permanent, interactive, environmental art piece. The result is a 1,000 sq. ft. dry stone and stainless steel sculpture that rises like a geologic upthrust from the open space alongside the museum entryway. Visitors can walk, climb and sit on the undulant surfaces of the work, or, simply view it on their way to, and from, the building.

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Pumpkin Seed

The seed shape is fructuous. Its asymmetricality suggests continued growth and development. The entry point of the garden, the pinched end of the seed, expresses the concept of compression used by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in his design of foyers. His idea was to constrain the vestibule area to hasten movement toward the voluminous inner space. Compression springs expansion. The sense of garden bountiful is increased by passing through a narrow portal.

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Swept up in Stone

The autumn 2014 issue of Garden Design magazine is a beauty to behold. In its newly re-conceived subscription-only, advertisement-free format, the magazine is like a coffee table book with sumptuous photographs on every page. My thanks go out to the Garden Design staff for including my work alongside that of many talented artisans, to Lindsey for a clear and compelling article, and to Gemma and Andy for the truly splendid photography.

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Woodland Farms Garden Conservancy Open Days

The prospect was uninviting. Could I build a stone disguise for an electrical transformer? The call came at a busy time late in the last century. I advised the caller to check back again in a year. One year later, to the day, I received a second call from Rick and Susan Richter. The request for a short wall around the transformer was still on the table but they had a few other items they were interested in having me build for them on their Springfield, Vermont property. A dry stone fence around the fruit and vegetable garden was now at the top of their to-do list. Thus began my ten year working relationship, and continuing friendship, with Susan and Rick.

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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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From Newgrange to Morrisville: Laying Loved Ones to Rest

Much of the art and architecture of ancient cultures was funerary. The Egyptian pyramids and the Taj Mahal, for example, are tombs. Artistic creations such as The Terracotta Army of the Qin Emperor and large pieces of pottery that marked Early Greek burials were artistic creations separate from the venerated human remains. Works I’ve done recently fall into both categories.

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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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