no stack here, just some thoughts.

the beach is strange in the winter. it’s a giant collection of rocks on top of sand, dirt, and ledge, and the tide stratifies the different sizes of rocks by their granularity, to an extent. sand is (to the human eye) pretty uniform, so it freezes together in a fairly uniform way along a gradient. the rocks, however, seem to follow their own rules in different zones, and move pretty unevenly.


here we see a spot where the rocks above are snow covered and frozen together with a sheet of ice flowing through them, and another spot underneath where the rocks were submerged by the tide and have another layer of ice, but the middle portion is dry as a bone and all the stones are loose. I could rummage down below the tidemark here, and still saw no signs of ice. did the tide waters not manage to percolate through? why just in this spot? there are spots at the same elevation that behaved nothing like this.


this spot, for instance. is there a freshwater stream coming through at this point of the beach? (fresh water freezes at a higher temp than salt water, if you’re unaware.) there are a bunch of spots that formed this icy travertine at various elevations on the beach, while surrounding spots are dry or snow covered. the dry spots sometimes produce little natural stacks like these, frozen together by tiny amounts of water:

these little guys were really cute to me.

then you have your large stones, covered in sheets of ice. if you look close, you can see where water has melted through and carved rivulets combining with the natural crystallized patterns in the ice. I really want to get a camera to do time lapse images of ice formations.

ice completely changes the game as far as stacking is concerned. the most important aspect of dry stone stacking is actually friction; I’m relying on the roughness of the rocks to negate the incidental lateral or rotational forces I introduce by touching the work or adding a new piece. ideally all the forces are channeled vertically, but in reality there are off balance and uncentered pieces everywhere, being held in place only by friction. making your rocks icy completely removes this restriction, and things are much more liable to spin or slide from the tiniest movement.

contrarily, one could utilize rocks that are frozen together in a configuration that would normally not fly, changing the game from dry stacked to mortared masonry. water mortar… hm. it’s a completely different idea, working with mortar. I haven’t have the patience to purposely glue rocks together with water – that would be wicked time consuming – and I don’t really have a grasp of the strength of an ice connection. it might be something to study later on. what would be really cool would be to make a small stack in a bucket, then slowly and gently fill it with water, let the whole thing freeze solid, then take the block out of the container…. hmmm…

anyway, winter beach is strange beach. more ideas coming.


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