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Dry stone training at the Stone Trust Center–a fun learning environment for all groups no matter the weather!

Every year in the spring and fall, the Stone Trust brings Dry Stone Walling Association Master Craftsmen-Certification Assessors from the UK. The masters teach a 2-Day Introduction to Dry Stone Walling the day before or after Test Day. This year, Andy Loudon, Chief Assessor for the DSWA, traveled to the Stone Trust Center in Dummerston, VT, where he spent Saturday and Sunday teaching the 5 basic rules of dry stone walling to eight novice wallers. Sam Brakeley taught principles to the other six participants. As a rule, Stone Trust instructors co-teach the full roster. Andy found it simpler to follow his own instructional approach. So after introductions and an overview of learning objectives and safety protocols, participants split into two groups on two walls. Wallers who came for the cheek rebuild split into pairs to handle one cheek end each.

After a light drizzle all morning, the rain got heavier after lunch. Instructors and participants worked together to set up tents all along the walls, so the training was not deterred. While the larger group of intro wallers completely stripped out and rebuilt their wall in a day, the other group completed the stripping out and first lift, or the bottom half of the wall, with throughstones. Stone Trust workshops and instructors have a great ability to improvise and provide participants with the experience that suits them the best.

A beautiful, sunny Sunday showed off the great work done the day before. The group started off with a tour around the Stone Wall Park, with walls and structures built by Stone Trust members, including Jared Flynn, Brian Post, and Seth Harris, as well as others testing for their Level 3 or 4 certification. Instructors led the tour to explain the elements of different features, what makes a good stone wall or structure, and the skill and effort that certification testing requires. Three workshop participants would, in fact, be testing for their Level 1 Waller Certification that Monday.

After the tour, wallers in the intro workshop returned to their walls. One group stripped out and rebuilt the second lift they had completed on Saturday. The other group continued building from the throughstones to the coping. The cheek rebuild pairs also worked to complete the second lift and copes. By the end of the day, everyone had completed their section of wall. Everyone felt a sense of accomplishment. What a wonderful mixture of learning from instructors who can describe the beautiful structures at the Stone Trust Center and provide hands-on experience and time on the wall.

Thank you to all of the wallers who came from New England, and to the intro wallers from Missouri and Canada. One cheek end waller came all the way from the UK!

Thank you also to instructors Andy Loudon, Sam Brakeley, and Dan Morales-Walsh for teaching through explanation and demonstration. You created a fun learning environment for all groups no matter the weather.