Although Finland has a flourishing stone industry it is confined to
high quality granite for veneers and kitchen worktops and such like. I
have to get stone from quarries that usually crush the stone into hard-
core so in effect your scraping the barrel for decent stone. When I
look at the stone used on some of your projects I could weep at the
quality of the stone. It has taken me a long time to make contacts here
and finally start to get stone that ican at least split with feathers
and wedges. Much of the stone in Helsinki area is migmatite which is
basically a waste of time trying to split into workable shape.
I thought the weather conditions in Canada would be similar to here in
respect to frost penetration depth. I have to go 50cm deep to prevent
frost heave and if needed (clay for instance) put in a drainage pipe to
carry any excess water away. Like everything else in Finland there are
rules and regulation and they are followed to the letter. Maybe that's
why the society works in such an inhospitable area, both geographically
Fortunately I get to escape sometimes and I travel around the Baltic
area looking at dry stone structures. This preserves my sanity as I get
to meet on the odd occasion another stone lover. I was glad to have
read about your recent erection of a Bee-Hive hut. Life is full of
coincidences as it just happens I am leaving for a short break this
coming week to Croatia to look at the Croatian "Kazun", a local beehive
style hut, which litter the countryside in the Istrian area on the
Slovenian border. They have their roots in Greece I believe and the
style dates from 2000 BC. I plan to build on here in Helsinki next
summer so the visit is more a fact finding trip than for pleasure.
Problem here is l could find it difficult to get stone of such a
regular shape as you used in Canada to such good effect.
I have visited your web pages from its earliest conception and have
marvelled at how professional it has become over time. It is probably
the best maintained and topical stone related web info site on the web
along with Stonexus which I quess you are aware of. As a fellow Scot
residing overseas l suspect you carry the same mental baggage of making
sure you leave a good impression to the natives of your ability to not
only integrate but pass your skills onto a future generation.
In the fifteen years I have been working here I have only met two
other guys who can build to a good standard and one of them is over 70
and lives beyond the Arctic Circle. I found myself stagnating from a
creative perspective, building solely retaining walls,the odd free
standing dyke and paths and walkways. With the rise of the internet l
found the DSWA which spurred me on a touch and then yourself and
Stonexus which have rekindled my hope in continuing this hard craft.
Maybe I have to get out more often!!!
Whatever, it was nice to write something down and as a last question
is your membership confined only to Canadian citizens or do you have an
"international" membership? Ultimately I would love to come over to
Canada to spend sometime working or at least do a workshop combined
with a holiday. I will of course keep visiting your web pages and enjoy
the stonework within.
All the best,
What a wonderful letter.
I feel like you and i could become good friends
The work you are doing in Finland sounds challenging
As you probably have surmised i HATE veneers
and crushing stone seems like a crime
And yes i can see why it is a struggle to do real structural dry stone work
when you are so limited by the stone selection available there after the commercial vultures have finished with it
I dig a 6 in deep footprint for my walls, the width of the wall , where i in put 3/4" clear sharp stone aggregate in the trench , not to stop the frost but allow drainage and proper bedding of the base stones
i like to think that no matter how severe the frost the a well built dry stone wall will accommodate the movement rather than fight it and break apart
I must look up the Croation Kazun you mention.
I wonder if any of our members have heard of this specific name for the beehive structure you have described
yes you can become a member no matter where you live.
thank you for your kind words about our web site and the association
please do try to visit some time and join one of our workshops or demonstration events
wall the best!
Thanks for your comments.
The garden wall came out fantastic and
I've gotten lots of nice compliments.
The larger wall we decided to abandon,
because its location blocked a view of a garden
under a lilac in the rear of the yard and
because the patio is quite small to start.
Adirondack chairs around the firepit was
The patio also came out nice and
looks especially good wet.
I did not use any sealer/glosser/etc.
I'll dig up some pics for you.
Thanks Jim Wesolowski for sending this email. Your blog site is well worth our members having a look at and reading your thoughtful musings about the attractiveness of dry stone walling.
Hello, I have enjoyed looking at your site and thought you might enjoy
another web page on working with stone at:
It has to do with a stonemason's philosophy of working with stone and his
stone creations. If you would like to link this web page that would be fine
with me, the page's stonemason/writer.
In Southern New England, USA
I concur with mr Grabowski. It would be great to have some sort of forum to pass information along!
Thank you for your inquiry Dave
The dry stone arch is just north of Mt Pleasant, Ontario, on the west side of Emily Park Rd, ( the main north south road that runs through the small town of Mt Pleasant)
It stands at the crest, high on the hill and overlooks rolling pasture hills and the road to the east
I would love to know where the stone arch was built in mt.pleasant ontario.
I am a local and am interested in seeing if the arch is still there. please
please tell me with where it was located or what road it was off of. thanks
John, just a short note to let you know how much we appreciate the artistry and creativity displayed in our beautiful dry stone wall. It is certainly the centre of attention on the street. The wonderfull collection of photographs in the book of your work, including your most recent project, is a pleasing addition to our coffee table collection.
We are certain that the upcoming house tour will focus local attention on your highly regarded wall building skills.
Our sincere thanks,
M & B Anglin
My husband and I really enjoyed the stone wall workshop at Kingsmere last summer. There was a moment on Sunday morning where I just felt an overwhelming ‘wow’. It’s amazing to think that we were creating something that will be appreciated for many years to come and be a small part of a historical site. I’m certain there are many other stone wall projects our my future. We have always enjoyed working together on projects on our property, but I think that stone wall building will become more of a passion than any other.
Hi John: I was just wondering if it'd be possible to set up some type of
member to member website, where members could post questions or topics that
others, novices, or people with less experience would be able to answer,
help each other, show off their successes, get advice, etc.
The Dry Stone Conservancy/US has such a site, but your efforts are much
more informative, and have been referred to others by me on their site. Please don't take offense, as you've been tremendous in helping all of us
novices, but it's just another option.
All of the members listed are pretty much professionals, and I don't feel
comfortable bothering them with minor questions.
Also, at the Port Hope Seminar, a few attendees were talking about
planning building walls and another person would say get a hold of me and
I'll help you. This type of networking would be beneficial to the art of
Dry Stone Wall Construction and Conservation. We may not be perfect, but
that's how we learn.
Thank you for considering this question, keep up the good work, and here's
hoping you and Mary many more successes in the new year.
Yours truly, Gerry Grabowski
I will be delighted to publish a page on Ontario's first dry stone hut in
pierreseche.com. It is nice to see that the art of drystone building is now
firmly entrenched in your country. My congratulations to yourself and DSWAC
members for building this fine hut.
I have inserted a link to the DSWAC website in the pierreseche.com home page.
First, congratulations on a Very Successful Rocktoberfest. I enjoyed the
pictures, and seeing them, tells me that everyone able to attend was
treated to a well planned, informative, instructional weekend.
The varied activities gave all those in attendance something to take
back, or enjoy while there, especially the other previously built
structures and bridges in the area..
At the rate you're going, Canada may take over the British Isles as the
Dry Stone Wall Center of the Universe.
I myself have created many projects using field stone with mortar but have always been interested in the dry wall technique. The Dry Stone Wall site is both informative and a pleasure to the senses. Thanx Scott
Thanks John, I am so pleased I was able to get Theresa Forte to feature this great workshop experience. The student feedback has been incredible.
Again many thanks on behalf of all who participated and Niagara Parks!!!
Thomas G. Laviolette NPD
Acting Director of Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, Butterfly Conservatory,
School of Horticulture and Parks Floriculture
What a wonderful festival! Each year I can hardly imagine that the current one can be as good as the last. The Cabanne was outstanding, the Christmas trees and the children structures a delight, and well done to the students on the course, they did a fine job. I really enjoyed the food and probably most of all the amazing feeling of friendship and comunity which pervaded the three days. Despite coming as an outsider I felt the warmth of welcome and the memory will stay with me.
Thank you to all who organized and energized Rocktoberfest 08. It was an honour to work with so many skilled and enthousiastic wallers who share such admiration of stone and passion for building. It was also wonderful to see so many Algonquin grads be a part of what I strongly believe to be the best association in Canada. The Dry Stone Festival is a must-attend event for anyone working with stone and should be an annual pilgrimage for all stonemasons across Canada and beyond. I left inspired, humbled and well-fed. I look forward to seeing you all again next year!
PS. Thanks for the opportunity to work on the dry stone hut ...it is trulli Canadian!
Thanks for the flickr link!
It’s nice to see all the images of the completed structure at the festival, the guy scaling the exterior, and the ring of builders’ faces in the inside shot; you arrange stones very photogenically!
The cabanne is impressive. The cabannes I've seen in the Pyrenees are
much rougher and less precise. I think it is a really
cool structure and I was thrilled to see you've built one.
Thank you all for another incredible experience! - I always leave these events renewed and invigorated, inspired by what can be done and how effortlessly monumental projects can be achieved with coordinated and enthusiastic participation!
Well done on making the festival a reality. You certainly have done a magnificent job in raising awareness and admiration in the area of stone and walling. I am honoured even to consider myself a part of such a great group of persons and am looking forward to next year!