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A Challenging Workshop: The 2-Day Cheek Rebuild, May 21-22

“This was a challenging workshop. I’m glad I took it. It might have been better to work with a partner since I’m not a pro waller and it was very hard work.”

Thanks very much for providing feedback!

“Pain is the craft entering the apprentice,” quoted Joe. Introductions were underway as the 2-Day Cheek Rebuild workshop began on a Saturday morning that promised to be a scorcher. Entry-Level Professional Waller Scholarship Awardee Jonny Mangini was describing the joys and challenges of building his own contracting business. When you come to a Stone Trust workshop, you may be struck by the quality of attention and response we give each other.

I was struck by the feedback shared with me. Over the course of two and a half years, a couple of things have become clear to me:

1) Walling takes practice. It helps to have built plenty of wall face before you attempt a vertical wall end (Cheek).

2) How you approach your work differs depending on experience and purpose. Are you a professional contractor? Are you a beginner, a homeowner with projects? Are you an enthusiast bitten by the bug seeking to learn everything you can?

“Serious participants took instruction to the best of their ability.”

All of you are serious and all came with different types of experience and differing purposes. The group included two beginners, one enthusiast, and one professional, all here to learn the conditions that result in a vertical wall end that ties back into a freestanding wall.

The cheek end constitutes the Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) Level 2 Waller test. All Stone Trust instructors know what it takes to pass that test; build at least ten cheeks and test yourself against the clock. It’s a demanding endeavor.

We are working to differentiate expectations for people who want to learn the craft and practice it on their own projects at their own pace versus those who avidly pursue the certification pathway. Some instructors pair participants to build a cheek together. Others guide each individual through their personal building process. Each way works. Either way, you’re tired out at the end of the day, especially on a May day that feels like the dog days of August!

In Dry Stone Walling: A Practical Handbook Alan Brooks and Sean Adcock tells us, “The wall head is a specially constructed pillar which acts like a huge bookend to strengthen the wall face and protect the center, which would otherwise weather away and collapse.” After this workshop, you know why a wall head is considered “standard wall furniture.” And you know how to build it. Thanks very much for coming to learn this fundamental aspect of dry stone walling.

Thanks very much, too, to Dan Snow for bringing deep knowing to the workshop. As one person noted, “It’s not everyday you get to learn from a Master Craftsman.” Nor from a Stone Trust founder.