Now that the Gothic arch vault is finished it is now time to start the dry stone surround. My plan was to build radius walls on each side of the vault and to try a style I have seen on the DSWI site about the walls of Inis Oirr. Having never done this style of stonework, I at least wanted to see if it was something that would work with the stone I have. First the footprint had to be prepared for the base course.
All that junk in front of the oven will be used as infill for the building stone. What about that rebar you ask? That is what I prefer to use when I set string lines for wall building. There are other ways but this method is fast, easy and very accurate. I don’t need them around the curves..they are used on the ends as a guide. Later on a string marking the top level will be added. Working without string lines is tricky if you haven’t done it much and they are a useful guide as you build. Because I prefer a rustic appearance with this type of stone (weathered fieldstone) the line will be only a rough guide (explained below). I have set strings for weathered fieldstone walls before and got the face looking like it was cut by a laser..it’s just not what I want on this project. The next post will discuss the usefulness of rebar and string set ups in wall building.
It was now time to gather some stone from my hoard, a stone pile of different types that has been picked over and not used on my clients projects. Not that there isn’t any good stone in there, it’s just that the majority would get buried behind the wall on a clients home. Since we are trying to use what we have and keep spending to an absolute minimum, lets see what the stone lets me do.
Some of the first load of stone.
Now to building. Like I have mentioned, I really wanted to try a style I have never done before. The vertical placement of wall stone on the Inis Oirr islands was intriguing and I really wanted to try it. I started the base course as a regular wall the create a footing then started placing stone vertically.
It did not go well! With this type of stone that I had, a vertical stack just didn’t look right to me. The tight radius certainly didn’t help because the rounded shapes of the stone didn’t fit tightly enough for my taste. After a couple courses, I stepped back and examined the work. Here is as far as I got.
No sir, I don’t like it. I will try this style someday when I have practiced more and when the stone is better. But for now…it’s coming down. I also changed the footprint to straight sides, eliminating the radius…good thing too, there wasn’t enough room for how I want to finish the oven if I continued with a rounded wall. Close call!! That’s a ‘design as you go’ near miss!! A straight wall will simplify the building process and that will help me use the stone more efficiently. Here is the new footprint.
I bumped out the thickness of the walls on each side and set up guide strings. Even though I have set the guide strings, the stone faces will break the plane here and there to give me the texture I want. If I wanted super flat, the snouts of the stone would be laid to the line. If this part sounds confusing to some of you, the upcoming post about strings will clear things up.
All the stone is ready for round two. I’m a couple feet up on one side and I started the other yesterday. Nothing out of the ordinary in style, it’s more like what I normally do with fieldstone or a blend. It has the classic New England look which echos the look of the walls from the old country.
CT has a big Irish and Italian heritage and the old craftsman left their mark on the landscape with some of the nicest walls in the USA. Growing up around them has left an imprint on what is pleasing to my eye and it is reflected in a large body of my work. I have done many different styles over the years but my favorite look is weathered stone large and small mixed together, even small chinks filling the “bee holes”…. to make them look like part of the wall and not an after thought is always fun.
Like food, styles of stonework are varied and subject to opinion..some may love this, others may hate it. But this is my ‘comfort’ style, something I have enjoyed looking at the most and I feel it emulates the way nature places stone….it uses all sizes in a random but sturdy fashion. I have tried something new and though it didn’t work here, I can say that vertical oriented stonework is in my future. A few goals for all of my projects are to build with structural integrity, balance and with a nod to the craftsmen that brought their skill over here from their own country. I am pleased so far and making progress when I can work on it. The next update will be when I top-out on the base.
Coming up next : Using rebar and string for stonewall layout.