once I built the first true arch, I decided to build another one right next to it, along with a little lintel arch right next to it. I had begun building a staircase onto the left side, but the second column from the left began falling apart as I was working, so I stopped what I was doing and took photographs. the second arch I built, the middle one, is made up of much smaller elements, though the formwork I built with was the exact same as last time. here’s a couple photos with the formwork included:
I know the image with me in it is wicked blurry, but it was the only photo with any reference to scale, so I feel I have to include it. the whole structure actually IS pretty large. I mentioned this is the last blog post; the more time I spend on a stack, the better it’s going to be, but the worse my photos will be because of how tired I am. the trade-off is kind of depressing.
either way, the stack came out nicely. now that I’ve broken the seal on true arches, I may start using them pretty frequently, no matter how tense removing the framework makes me. I’ve always loved colonnades, and I have some ideas for some ideas for playing with scale and rhythm with the arches; Tatami proportions come to mind as a starting point; Fibonacci ratios are more fancy, but may be hard to accomplish with my limited range of size possibilities (the size of your worker and the size of your elements create practical boundaries for any build), and, frankly, I kind of like Tatami patterns better anyway, simplistic though they may be.
with the sunlight hitting the rocks on these cold days, I really appreciate the golds and yellows hiding in the grays of the stones. there are some beautiful moments of color locked into these rocks that aren’t what you think about when you pick up individual stones.
here’s a video of me climbing up on the stack. it stood up to my added weight just fine, but the whole first arch collapsed when I jumped off… boohoo! all good things must come to an end, anyway, and I have to destroy the work before I leave, so I guess nothing was really lost.
time after time when I visit the beach, I build corbel arches – arches where the stones simply edge out from one another slowly towards the center; I’ve always been envious of the people out there building true arches.
on the right, a true arch. on the left, a corbel arch. without mortar, the corbel arch (when built without support) cannot sustain stability beyond slightly less than a 45 degree angle, assuming perfectly interlocking elements.
I decided to bite the bullet and try to make a true compression arch last time I went to the beach. the results were alright. I used two large elements as an interior scaffolding just to be sure that it wouldn’t fall as I built it, and so that I could have a uniform shape.
I made sure to get a small set of photos before I removed the interior blocks, as I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to hold up. removing the supports was harrowing. because I work with rounded elements, someone loosely stacked in comparison to a true mason’s work, there is a fair amount of shifting that can take place whenever an element is re-positioned or excised. the little grating, popping, and tapping sounds as stones move across one another to find a new equilibrium strikes fear into my heart every time. sometimes the sounds just get louder and louder, and the whole stack comes crashing down. this time, I got lucky and the whole thing stayed right where it was.
as I recently noted, I am having trouble with the fact that every time I do a quick stack, I can take decent photos after because my arms aren’t tired, but after great work, my hands are shaky as hell and I can’t take a decent shot to save my life. I don’t have money for a tripod right now, but I will be looking out for one at second hand stores and the like. someone recently mentioned they’d like to see time-lapse imagery or sped-up video of my construction process – this could be a lot of fun, too, but once again, my income isn’t flexible enough to buy a video camera. maybe later.
part two of this stack coming soon!
this stack had more to do with siting than anything else.
I have to knock most of my stacks down at the end of the day, as I have no clue what could happen while I am away from them. if they’re small or mostly horizontal, I’ll leave them up, but most of the time the work is vertical and precarious enough that it warrants knocking over. because of this, I rarely get to see one of my works endure.
while I was at Ft. Williams recently, I walked around the coastline to another portion of the park where I used to stack with some frequency. there’s a giant wedge of rock that thrusts out from the general landscape; it’s about fifty feet long, thirty feet high, and only ten feet thick. since few people go down to the cove area it shelters and even fewer people would even be able to climb the outcropping, I decided to build a stack halfway up the formation.
you can see here the fissures in the rock face I used to haul myself up. I had to stand on tip-toe to reach proper holds, and lowering myself off of the ledge onto the slippery rock below was frightening. it was fun to expend the effort on making something that would stay perched up there for a while, however. the rocks I used to make the sails and the base they sit on were quite heavy, and I almost fell off when hoisting them into place. the whole thing is quite stable, and I expect that the weighted top will ensure that it stays in place for quite a while.
I had some real difficulty getting good shots, as my hands were wicked shaky after climbing up and down the edge of the cliff. the fog didn’t help, either. however, going back and seeing the little stack cast up there multiple times is more rewarding for me than a good picture, even if it doesn’t make for a great blog post.
Happy Thanksgiving, folks. I hope you’re enjoying it with all those you hold dear. I’m probably prepping or chowing down as we speak, or going for our post meal walk.
I myself am thankful for rocks, sunlight, a mortal shell that willingly complies with my efforts, and time to think. I am thankful for a family that supported my creative desires as a child, never chaining me with an undue obsession with safety. I am thankful for food and warmth to nourish me when I return from my endeavors. I am thankful for the medicine that allows me to live a normal life, whereas less than 100 years ago I would be nearly guaranteed death. I hope you have things to be thankful for, as well.
anyway, on to the stack!
I noticed the big, flat rock from my View of the Fog stack lying on its side and thought it would make a good table top, because the texture of the rock is really pleasing. I had already worked on some other pieces and had some back pain, so I wasn’t up to lifting the slab onto some carefully constructed pillars, only to have my back give out, drop the slab, and destroy everything. “what the heck,” I said to myself, “if I build pillars on top of this it’ll be like a table someone flipped.” I was in goofy enough of a mood to do it. once I had the larger plates on the top in place, I decided I could just keep aggregating and build another tabletop on the legs of the flipped table, un-flipping it, so to speak. considering my framed frame, I’m in a rut here with my doubled processes!
it was sturdy enough that I could climb up on it. I can tell you, I was super nervous sitting up there. it was pretty stable while I sat up there, but the second I began to climb off the whole thing went toppling down. yikes. thanks to the nameless gentleman who took a photo for me and talked to me with his 3 year old son for 20 minutes, it made the whole process more fun.
once again, a happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. enjoy your day, be grateful for the bounty in your life, and stay excited!
the third in my quick stacks from a few recent trips. it’s not like my other works, all that much, as it’s more of a collection of doodles.
this work was actually built moments before I started working on yesterday’s post, the piled point. I was experimenting with driftwood’s deflection under load and the inherently accretion-based methodology of my work. each time I added an individual stone to the log I was working upon, the log would bend further, fundamentally changing the equilibrium of the entire stack. I began each individual point of interaction with the driftwood involved pointing upwards, way above my head; the logs were wedged under one another or larger piles of rocks. as I continued adding stones, the logs would bend until they touched the ground or they lifted their restraints on the side opposite from my momentary focus. people were curious about the whole thing, and ended up interacting with the more stable portions.
however, interaction at stable points results in magnified force at unstable points, and the translation is hard to predict. there were moments where adding a grape sized pebble lifted a 500 pound log. there were moments where tenuous connections were cemented by additions to levers three moves away. some of the individual moments were beautiful instances in their own right, though the totality was kind of a wreck. here’s one nice instance; the way the chunk missing on the right from the top stringer matches into the supports below is entertaining to me.
the initial float of the cantilevered elements over the sand created a contrast that I usually don’t get due to the fact that I build on a big landscape that is made of the very material I build with.
here’s the second of the small pieces I worked on recently.
another delicate piece like the flat sheets I previous posted, this guy is balanced on a single point on the log. I probably erected it 4 or 5 times, only for it to fall while I was photographing it. no worries; I wasn’t really learning anything or going for a specific concept. as I looked at it later, I thought of when I was little and was making blanket forts in my living room. we would pile books on the corners of the blankets to secure our tents, but over time as we got too wild inside and whacked the ceiling, the blankets would slip. we would counter this with more and more books piled into the corners. while the initial placement would be orderly, a ramshackle pile would form that could never do much to stop a collapse. this set of rocks is very similar; a carefully placed initial element with some crap thrown on top. I find the contrast between that first element’s scale and texture and the topping mess’s fragmentation sort of cute. there’s a nice unity between the bottom piece and the log it sits upon, as well.