Monday 13 October 2014

Plans for the Big Carry

I've been asked to participate in The Researcher's Night back at the McMaster Innovation Park on the evening of October 25, 2014.  My immediate response was that I was not going to carry all of that stone back again.  However, the theme for the evening is "The Sustainable City", and the spirit is to get the people attending involved in the research and art on display.

I could rent a truck to get all of the stone back to MIP, but that doesn't feel right.  So far, this stone has travelled over 4 km being carried.  Why not try to add to that total?  If I can recruit lots of people to help, we can carry the stone back in one "Big Carry".  Here is the stone that I have ready to go now.
Most is the same stone that made the previous round trip.  I've used some to make that greens garden, but have been adding back to the pile with other stone that I dug out of the yard when planting some trees, and can add even more if I take some stone from other areas of my garden where the stone structures need to be rebuilt anyway.  The pile that is ready to go now is more than a metric ton.  If each person helping me carry it back to MIP carries 10 kg, then I'll need to recruit more than 100 people.  If I allow people to use wheelbarrows, dollies or wagons so that they can carry more, we could do the job with fewer people, but will still need a pretty good crowd.

All Home

It is now more than a year later.  Like many bloggers, the discipline to keep on blogging was something that I let slip.  I did, however, complete the project as planned.

I needed all the time that I had available to carry all of that stone home again.  Since it was the middle of winter, the stone was just piled at the side of my house.  In the spring, I used some of it to turn part of my front lawn into a garden for greens.  I set it back deep enough that the risk of walked dogs peeing on it was low and planted it with arugula, chard, kale, radicchio and mesclun mixes.  It has been a beautiful and delicious addition to our property for two seasons now.
The rest of the stone was built back into a rectangular pile, and during the summer we often saw chipmunks scooting in and out.  I enjoyed having it just waiting for the next stone project.

Saturday 12 January 2013

Carry Back

I've now got until March 7th to carry the stone back home again. The first decision to be made was how the completed Carry should be dismantled. I've decided to work from the back to the front so that what remains shows how high the pile was for as long as possible. The first picture below shows Carry less than two weeks after I started to carry home.
December 12, 2012
Today is a month later and the pile of stones that I've brought home is starting to look impressive. Until I decide what to build next with this stone, I'm just piling it outside our back door. The weather here today is climate change warm at about 13 C or 55 F, so most of the snow that we've had is gone.
Partially Home - January 12, 2013
One surprise that I've had carrying the stones back home is that at the end of each day when I choose the stone or stones for that trip, I often remember a stone from the trip in. What I'm tending to recognize is the shape of the end that I choose to be at the bottom of the pack since it's best if that is square, and since most stones aren't, what I remember is how off square it is and wondering what discomfort it will produce during the trip.

Another surprise is that the walk home is much more uphill than I had noticed before. There is nothing like carrying about 60 lbs of stone to make you more sensitive to gradients. I've already taken the two largest stones since they were worrying me. I'm not getting any stronger, and carrying them in felt like my absolute limit. I wanted to be sure to carry them home on a day when the footing was good and I felt strong. With those two done, a feel like the remaining ton or so of stone should be no problem.

Sunday 25 November 2012

The Show

The opening for the McMaster Innovation Park Art in the Workplace 10th Exhibit is this Thursday the 29th from 7-9 PM.  One of my jobs as part of the organizing committee has been to help with the installation.  Last weekend, a group of us spent the better part of Sunday getting all of the art onto the walls, stained glass into the windows and sculptures arranged in the sculpture area.  This show includes some really great work, including this sculpture by Jennifer Wilson-Bridgman, which I find breathtaking.
If you can make it, come on out to the opening.  The best part is being able to meet all of the artists and to find out what inspires them and how they make their art.  For more information, go to...

Sunday 11 November 2012

All In

My goal was to carry in the curb weight of my car, and this past week, I reached that milestone. Now, I'll take a break from carrying stone for a few weeks until the 29th, and then I'll start to carry it home.
November 8, 2012 - 3,100 lbs
The 29th is the McMaster Innovation Park Art in the Workplace 10th Exhibit opening (7-9 PM). I want the structure complete for the show, and then I'll be a bit pressed to get it all carried home again by early March next year. At least I don't have to worry about finding the stone and cleaning it up now.

The last few loads included a lot of small stone as I tried to fill in the gaps. I also took some time to rearrange some of the stones so that on odd shaped stone that was sticking up is now positioned flush with the top surface. People who work with stone call those odd shaped stones "problem solvers". The idea is that you can use them to fill awkward spots in your structure. While that is a good attitude to have, the truth is that stones that look like they are going to be difficult to work with, usually are.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Where I'm Finding the Stone

I have a lot of stone on my city lot.  Retaining walls ring the lawn, and at the back of the lot, I have walls terracing up to the abandoned lane way.  I had a fair amount of extra stone piled at the very back.
Back Yard Still Intact
However, once I got started collecting and cleaning the spare stone that I have, I realized that I was going to need something more if I wanted to leave all of the walls and steps that I've built over the years intact.  I live at the base of the Niagara Escarpment, and there is lots of stone laying below, but that is public parkland and off limits as far as I'm concerned.

A little less than 2 km from my home, there was a large dump of fill and in that fill, there is a lot of decent stone.  The problem was that it needed to be collected and cleaned before I could carry it to work and add it to my Carry structure.  Since this project is all about carrying stone, I decided that I'd carry the stones that I collect there home, hose and clean them off and then carry them into work.  I chose an area beside my house as a staging area and piled dirty stone there until I could clean it up and move it to another pile of stone ready to be carried into work.
One in the Hand, Two in the Bag
(and a large one in the backpack)
I used that pile as my source for a while, either walking around to it on my way home from work, or making extra trips to gather stone on the weekends.  A few weeks ago, the pile was bull-dozed flat, so the stone that was sitting on top was now buried or pressed into the muddy surface.  Since then, I've been using a similar smaller pile of fill a little closer to home.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Whole Ton Creation

Last month, my wife and I stopped by the You Me Gallery on James St North in Hamilton to check out the Occasional Whirligigs Show. One of the whirligigs was a crown by an artist named Helen Sovereign.  I wondered to Bryce Kanbara who runs the gallery, whether she was inspired by her last name to choose a crown as the basis for her whirligig.  I then wondered what I could do with my last name, and the answer was immediately obvious.  It just took me another couple of weeks to get there.
October 11, 2012 (about 2100 lbs)
Oh, and thanks to Bryce for encouraging me to document this project.  That gave me the push I needed to start this blog.