2-Day Stone Wall Building Class
- July 31, 2019
Tear Cap Workshops is hosting two Stone Wall Building workshops this summer and fall in partnership with The Stone Trust. One class will be offered August 24 - 25, and another September 28 - 29. Both classes will be led by certified dry stone walling instructors from The Stone Trust. The workshops are designed for anyone to start learning the art of dry stone walls. Participants will learn all the basic rules of structural walling that can later be applied to any type of stone or project. This comprehensive, 2-day workshop is suited to both beginners and those with previous experience; all that is required is enthusiasm for stone walls. The cost for the 2 day class is $495, and class size is limited to 12 participants. Please register online at tearcapworkshops.org.
New England has long been famous for its miles of stone walls. By some accounts, there were 240,000 miles of stone walls in New England, consisting of some 400 million tons of stone. Comprised of field stone, these walls were often hastily built as a means of removing stones from agricultural fields off to one side. Later, some of these “dumped walls” were rebuilt in a more intentionally, but by the late 1800’s much of this agricultural land was returning to forested land. The stone walls remain — a testament to the hours and hours of hard manual labor it took to remove the rocks and build the walls that characterize the New England landscape.
While most of New England’s walls now appear thigh-high, most walls were originally 4 to 6 feet tall when built for livestock fencing, and were largely built out of an abundance of stone and a scarcity of wood at the time. In Great Britain, the craft of dry stone walling has been continually practiced and the knowledge of structural standards and training has been thoroughly developed. The Stone Trust has brought over the techniques, standards, and certification to North America, and is now bringing the craft to Maine.
Through practice and education, the art of wall building continues today. The Stone Trust was established in southern Vermont in 2010 with the mission to preserve and advance the craft of dry stone walling. Through an expanding program of educational events and outreach projects, the non-profit is engaged in preserving the natural use of plentiful stone in simple, gratifying ways.
“Participants to Stone Trust workshops learn the fundamentals of building, techniques for efficiency, shaping stone and much more,” says Brian Post, Executive Director of The Stone Trust. “Home owners have left workshops ready to build their own projects, and experienced contractors have gained a new understanding of how to build dry stone walls, forever changing how they will build. The focus of all the workshops is to build for structure first. Once that is mastered then artistic ingenuity can be added as experience is gained."
Traditional livestock fence walls of over 4 feet high when finished may look a little tall compared to many New England walls, but the extra height proves the structural integrity of the wall —a badly built wall won’t stand that high. With the skills gained in building higher, participants learn thousand-year old walling skills, and as an extra bonus, the final course of stones goes very quickly. Traditionally, coping stones are placed on edge along the final course of stone work. Come to a workshop to learn how these cope stones are an integral part of the structure of a dry stone wall!
“Since Tear Cap Workshops began, one of the most requested workshops has been stone wall building,” says Henry Banks, Tear Cap Workshops’ Executive Director. “With nearly 11 acres in cleared land, the facility could be an ideal place to build walls. But we were in need of stone wall building experts to teach workshops. So, we contacted the Stone Trust — the premier stone education and certification site in the Northeast.”
The Stone Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and multifaceted resource, offering trainings, workshops, certification, contractor listings, photos and resources for the stone enthusiast. More information can be found at thestonetrust.org.
Tear Cap Workshops is a new non-profit organization dedicated to unleashing creativity through hands-on learning. In 2017, the organization purchased a former sawmill facility in Hiram, Maine. The complex, consisting of 19 acres of cleared land and forest, has a total of 11 buildings. These buildings are slowly being transformed into workshop space, either for lease to established artisans, or for educational workshop space. The long-term vision is to build and support a community in craft, intersecting different disciplines in wood, stone, metal, and food, while making good use of a former industrial sawmill site.
Starting in 2018, a perfect partnership was born. The Stone Trust sent two excellent, certified instructors to the Tear Cap site to lead a hands-on stonewalling workshop. The eight participants began a double sided wall along the ridge near the entrance of Tear Cap Workshops’ facility. In the coming years, the plan is to add to this wall, one class at a time, until the wall stretches 300 feet to the edge of the trees — a new monument to traditional wall building, and the relationships formed when a community comes together to work with their hands.
There is still space to sign up for this year’s walling workshops. Please find us at tearcapworkshops.org to find out more about the classes and to register. Please contact Sarah Banks at 207-625-3396 with any questions.