Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day 2: Vertical Wall Team

The morning started out rainy, but by mid-day everyone had to shed their layers and rain gear for a beautiful sunny afternoon...until the late afternoon, when rains returned, and midges (biting mini mosquitoes) attacked!

A team was selected to begin on vertical stacked stone walls--the design idea is very poetic--evocative of a flowing river...however,these walls are difficult to construct, as there are rarely flat ends on the stones, so these need to be chipped away by hand so that they can stand straight.  Lucky for us, Danny O'Toole, our Mayo County project manager and the team wisely built a concrete back up wall (poured before we arrived).  It is also structurally difficult to adhere the backs of the stones onto the concrete walls, and to provide support to the stones in the courses above, as well as avoid a blow out of the mortar, and also to keep the walls plumb.  The vertical stone stacking needs to be built up in stages, so that the mortar can set in between.  

Our stone masonry expert, Joe O'Toole, has been instrumental in helping the students with solving these problems, and demonstrating techniques.  While the work is and focused and serious, the banter among the students and Joe is light, and ranges widely:  from the latest on Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, to the comparison of Irish and American food, and particularly familiar foods the students miss so far from home, like chips and guacamole.  Joe has never tasted guacamole, and he suggested to the students that maybe they could "cook him some".

Tarp (sheep) shelter

Interior of shelter

Natural rock forrmations surrounding our site

Smiling stoneworkers (foreground L-R:  Kritsten Weller and Erica Donnelly)

Vertical wall team and stone masonry guru Joe O'Toole

Vertical stacked stone wall in process

Onlooking sheep

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