By Brian Post
I first met Judy in 2015 at one of the early workshops done in the Master Feature park. Originally attending because she was interested in repairing a wall on her property. At that first workshop Judy took at The Stone Trust, she met Kim Coggin, and afterwards became a frequent workshop participant. Since then Judy became a certified waller, the 3rd women in North America to reach Level 2 certification and become a certified instructor, and a board member of The Stone Trust.
You can meet Judy and Kim at our final women’s walling workshop for 2018 on August 12. They will once again be teaching together. Click here for more information and to register
Judy’s path in becoming a dry stone waller is inspirational, and I took a few minutes to talk with Judy about her experience getting involved in dry stone walling. I hope you find it inspires you as well!
Brian: Can you tell me a little about the experience meeting Kim Coggin in your first workshop?
Judy: I always thought of building stone walls as something of a man’s world, Kim was the reason I wanted to come take more. When I saw a women not only taking a workshop but teaching it, it gave me the confidence that it was something I could do myself and opened my eyes to that.
B: Did you find Kim further inspired your interest in stonework?
Judy: Absolutely she did. Kim used the words “of course you can do it” and once I heard that and saw that she was doing it, I realized I could do it too. That is really what it took, coming from another women who is having success building stone walls.
B: Now that you have been to many workshops, what makes a women only workshop environment special:
Judy: The environment is completely different, and it is difficult to explain, but there’s a certain amount of liberation that I felt working with women, I seemed to have more confidence in exerting my opinions and trying things and making mistakes without being subject to scrutiny. Its women getting things done together, it seems to well.
B: Having gone through the stages of being a beginning student all the way up to now being an instructor, did you know early on that you wanted to achieve that?
Judy: I did not know that early on, when i took my first workshop and my eyes were opened by Kim that I could do this, I thought I would take another workshop and concentrate on learning the wall end, and then Kim was going to be teaching the first all womens workshop and I thought I cant miss that, and honestly with 3 introductory workshop, and I learned something from every one. But it was the all women’s workshop that really made me think about becoming an instructor. And to become an instructor I had to pass the Level 1 and the Level 2 certification first. So that became a goal. Age for me is a factor, but I figured that instructing is something that I can continue to do. For now though I feel strong, I feel fit, and it has been a wonderful thing for me to pursue.
B: Do you think that going through the workshops at The Stone Trust has effected your life positively outside of doing stonework?
Judy: Yes it has. I have noticed that, and other people have noticed it, that I have found joy. It has made me grounded, it has made me feel confident. That there is nothing I cant do if I put my mind to it. And I have met the most wonderful people.
B: For so many folks there is a barrior to jumping in taking that first workshop, whether it’s the time or worry about if they can do it. Do you have any recommendations for them?
Judy: What I have found is that there is so much gratification. It is a unique craft and very few people understand it. Once you realize the history that is there, and what dry stone walls can tell you about different parts of the country and the world, it is a whole new education. It has to do with geology, and history, and architcture. Being that the Stone Trust really is a unique learning center, it is an opportunity that should not be overlooked.
B: Anything to add?
Judy: I speak from my own experiences, because I have been involved in both all-women’s workshops and co-ed workshops. To some degree we are all programmed with certain behaviors in mixed company. Remove that barrier, there is an instant sense of liberation—liberation to ask questions, make mistakes, make suggestions, try ideas. This is
I encourage women who have an interest in learning to build with stones, but have some doubts or insecurities, to start with an all-women’s introductory workshop. You will find camaraderie, encouragement and confidence. Even if you are independent and confident, you will find working with all women a positive experience.