Joe Dinwiddie: Education,Education,Education.

Passing on knowledge is a gift from one person to another; that which was hard won is shared with others unselfishly with the aim of enriching the lives of those being taught. Joe Dinwiddie, now based in Santa Fe, describes himself as an educator, through the teaching of dry stone walling he aims to inform and inspire. Looking at best stone construction practices across the globe he has used his background in Vocational training to develop his own methodology for passing on the skill and worth of the technique. Employing innovative teaching methods, (keep an eye out for the dancing masons!) he has extensive experience of delivering dry stone walling and stone construction workshops. The collapse of the stone trade from the mid 20th Century and the subsequent growth of manufactured products has conspired in the demise of the conveyor belt of talent emerging into the trade. The traditional route into the craft of master handing over their skills onto apprentices is all but bust. Routes into the craft of stonework are not as easy as it once was, education of the younger generation into the joy and interest of the trade is essential if it is to thrive. Joe has over the last few years designed a stone arch teaching aid that he uses in school settings to engage students. What at first could be seen as simply a little toy, in Joe’s hands it is transformed into a ‘gateway’ for developing minds to step into and through to explore the wider wonders of maths, science and the arts. Furthering this learning he has worked with schools and teachers to build outside learning spaces designed around astronomical and calendar observations. As stone is used less and less especially within commercial situations those professionals that are essential for support, clients, architects, structural engineers, they too have lost the knowledge and confidence in the material, it has become an unknown quantity to them, Joe sees this as an area of practice that requires some additional focus in the future, a responsibility for those committed and versed in stone to educate those they need to realise municipal and commercial projects. It is endlessly fascinating to me how others use their knowledge of stone, how from learning their craft scrabbling around a pile of rocks they expand it into so many other interesting fascinating and rewarding areas of endeavour. Joe’s enthusiasm is taking him in directions he probably never foresaw when he started loading those first rocks into a wheelbarrow, that he is opening up the field to so many others is to his great credit, as Yeats said – ‘Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.’

Joe Dinwiddie: Education, Education, Education. Audio File only

Sheiling for Deirdre and Naoise

Video recording the two summers I worked on creating the Sheiling for Deirdre and Naoise, atop Beinn Ghlas in rural Argyll. Rarely does a project come along that gives back so much. Set in a stunning location it was a wonderful ‘office’ (mostly it did rain sometimes) to build such a special and meaningful project. Many different aspects added to the fun of bringing it to fruition. This little 10 min video goes someway to detailing what it symbolises and what an amazing experience it was for me.
Sincere thanks to Marc Jeanbourquin for his kind permission to use the music recording.

Pieter Schaafsma: The man beneath the stetson.

The Man beneath the stetson. Founder of the popular Facebook Group Custom Creative Stonework, Pieter is a true stone enthusiast. A multi talented designer and artist he is an advocate for the use of natural stone. With a passion for creating ephemeral stone balances he also enjoys building dry stone walling projects around his properties in Arizona and his Ranch in Southern Utah. He also has a cute wife!

The Man Beneath The Stetson – Audio only

Norman Haddow: A stove side Chat

Interview with Norman Haddow – Churchill Fellow, DSWA Master Craftsman. Learn more about Norman’s personal journey into the ancient skill of dry stone walling. A fully qualified Botanist he enjoyed a varied early career in Industry in London and Scotland, before transitioning into a life dedicated to ‘building walls without mortar.’ After attending a DSWA training event he has gone on to establish himself as one of the elder pillars of the craft, with some particularly eminent clients. Receiving a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship in 2011 he travelled to Slovenia to research traditional shepherd huts. Still dyking into his 80’s his story is an inspiration to those interested in this most ancient and fundamental craft. To those of us who want to work as long as possible he shows its possible to remain fit healthy and still able to follow your passion. Follow Normans Facebook page where he shares his passion for the craft in …wallsaroundtheworld by clicking the icon below.

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Norman Haddow: A stoveside chat – Audio only
Norman with an impressive cheek end & equally impressive cheek hair

Carvings Installed – South Wall, Forfar Botanists Garden

Having spent the last two weeks creating the carved elements for the South Wall for the Forfar Botanists Garden, this week has been taken up with installing them into their final positions.

Correctly spacing them meant that I have had to be very careful in watching my levels as the wall grows in height, the main fear I had was that if I didn’t control the spaces between the elements by the time I started creating the alcoves for the sculptures they would looked ‘pinched’ within the height of the wall. Now that it is complete I think I pulled it off – phew!!

Forfar South Wall complete