November was the last workshop hosted at the Rockin Walls Training Center for the 2014 season. With a great turn out of 11 students. My Amish friend Mark Peachy from Dry House Restoration came down with his crew, brother Benjamin and helper Samuel.
Mark and I had traveled to up to Canada in September to the WillowBank Dry Laid Stone Festival 2014. Mark took his level 1 DSWA certification and passed. It was great to have him assisting on Saturday at the Rockin Walls Training Center. Mark offered a wealth of hands on experience from his years of historic restoration of wet work.
The day started off with meeting in the our summer kitchen for meet and greet including some hot beverages and snacks. Next if was time to watch the video on how to build a dry laid stone retaining wall by Richard Tuffnell. Then into a bit of content before heading out.
We then headed up to the workshop area to strip out of the wall from the October 2014 workshop. Within 30 mins of sorting an organizing everything was down to the ground. As you can see in the back round the DSWA banners hanging for quick referenced for everyone to refereed too as we worked for the next 2 days.
Many of the participants from the October workshop 2014 came back to enjoy another round of building the wall. Those who returned from October workshop Jack, Ryan and Carrie or had masons experienced such as Travis took on the Wall Ends. (cheekends)
During this workshop since I had several experienced masons. I felt it was important to offer a few added skills for there tool box of knowledge.
~ 2 Examples foundations - below grade, on grade.
~ Explanation of how to build wall frames. What they do and options of materials to make them.
~ Covered all the " Try Before you Buy Tools" from my SPONSORS. Going over how each and every one works. I also demonstrated the use of each on a banker table.
~ Next I moved into how to maintain and what tools are needed to sharpen Carbide tools such as chisels. Much to my surprise many of the experiences masons had no idea you could even do so. One fellow actually just bought new chisels every year. Don't worry I know where he lives come Halloween I'll see if he'll be so kind to fill my bag of battered Trow and Holden Tracer chisels.
~ Last bonus was hands on Hammer Drill time with reclaimed granite - Feather and Wedging. Everyone had a chance to mark out, hand trace, drill, and place the feather and wedges to split their stone.
With ample amounts of PA Field stone the participants made great progress. The experienced masons - Ned, Reg, Mark assisted others next to them as they built. Carrie and Ryan gave there hand at the wall end. I believe the first day got the better part of them since the decided to stop a littler earlier then the rest. But come Sunday they hit it hard with clear mind and determination to get it done. Some times its important to know when to walk away. This can be an extremely hard lesson to learn because you keep trying and trying to solve a solution and keep coming up with the same answer - nothing. When you get to this point you just need to take a break. I find if I'm walling this is a great chance to just do mindless work such as pack the wall with hearting. If your asking what this is - well sounds like you need to come take a workshop. With Ned an experienced wet mason he stepped up and assisted the two reach there goal of completion. Great team work by all!!!
Carrie being safe with here protective gear as she's hammer drilling the stone for the feather and wedges.
Next it was time to place them. No I didn't try to color coordinate with Carrie a head of time on the colors for my feather and wedges. I like to use hot pink because this is one of the few colors that will get lost in leafs or grass once they fall threw the stone after splitting onto the ground.
Next Reg from Ponds Patio's and Waterfalls putting the hammer to the stone.
Ryan jumping in next. Everyone had the chance to learn this great skill. Nothing feels better then hearing and seeing your first stone split. What a rush with a feeling of accomplishment!
A beautiful pile of 6" wide granite stones now are ready for there next job when the time comes. (Chances are these will be used in a up coming flat work (patio, walks) workshop Oct or Nov.) This technique is a very affordable solution to splitting stone instead of having to pick up a Cut off saw (gas saw) which makes so much noise and dust.
Sunday 6 made it back. The Amish do not work on Sundays since this is a day of rest for them. ( I need to practice this) Travis and his dad from Arbor Ridge Landscape (specializing in water features) had previous commitment. So everyone moved in on the wall rocking an incredible about of quality freestanding 4' high dry laid stone by days end.
Sunday at noon everyone headed back down to the summer kitchen for another incredible hot meal cooked up by my wife Teresa. Who was so kind to offer help from her busy day with her Non Profit CalmAcres.Org She flipped the room and set everything up for everyone to enjoy a fresh hot meal on a chilly day. Jack keeps telling me he only comes to the workshops for the Coffee and hot meals. Thats Jack I'll have to find some more stones to keep you busy this year when you come back. : )
Ned stands proud by the wall while (right to left) Ryan, Ryan, Carrie, and Jack
Our neighbor stopped by with his dog (Yellow Lab) who every Sunday goes for ride around the back roads of our neighborhood with is owner in there John Deere Gator. As you can see he brought out smiles in everyone at the end of two days of hard work.
Great job by everyone who made it. I look forward to seeing many of you back for 2015 Workshops. With more 1 day and 2 day workshops. Rockin Walls Training Center offering the only "Try Before You Buy" Program in the USA. Come out to put your hands on tools you might only see in a catalog. Why spend the money when you can try before you buy. Helping you understand what really works the best for you! Many new sponsors coming for this year!!
SEE 2015 Dry Laid Stone Workshop schedule at Rockin Walls Training Center CLICK HERE!
For other certified dry laid stone workshops in the USA visit www.TheStoneTrust.Org located in Vermont.
Thank you ~ Mark J.