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Record Numbers at May Test Day at the Stone Trust Center

Congratulations to all newly certified wallers:

Level 1 Wallers:
Isaiah Clarke*
Micah Franzman
Jay Hartshorne
Prescott Hartshorne
Ben Jenkins-Provost*
Elijah Karecki*
Michael Maher
Saman MoeinJahromi
Kestrel Osman
Matthew Nunn
Eric Tatro

Level 2 Wallers:
Jackson Conn
Kelly Maloney

*In the spring of 2022, Ted Carter Inspired Landscapes worked with the Stone Trust to certify the first cohort of Level 1 Wallers on their crew. Five wallers achieved Level 1 Waller Certification. This year, another three members of this employee-owned design-build firm joined the ranks of Level 1 Wallers. Now Ted Carter dry stone wallers are seeking Level 2 Waller Certification, known to be the hardest to accomplish. Wishing them well as they continue to train!
Much appreciation to the folks at Ted Carter Inspired Landscapes for recognizing the synergy between landscape design and dry stone construction, as well as for their corporate membership. Thank you for the ways you are helping to preserve and advance the art and craft of dry stone walling.

Each spring and fall, the Stone Trust Center in Dummerston, Vermont hosts a test day where wallers can earn Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain (DSWA-GB) Waller Certification. Wallers arrive from across North American to demonstrate their level of walling skills. This May, the campus was flooded with a record number of wallers on test day: thirteen Level 1, six Level 2, and two Level 3B candidates, for a total of twenty-one wallers testing! This many candidates required most of the expansive walls at the Stone Trust Center, including the workshop walls outside and in the barn, and the retaining wall.

A Level 1 Certification Test requires a waller to strip out and rebuild 27 sq ft of wall (roughly equal to a wall 4 feet 6 inches tall and 6 feet long) to Level 1 standards in a period of seven and a half hours. On Spring Test Day, May 20, thirteen candidates presented for the Level 1 test. At day’s end, eleven had passed.

A Level 2 Certification Test requires a waller to strip out and rebuild a similar square footage of wall (27 sq ft), but it also includes a cheek end, or wall end. A cheek end provides structural stability. Knowing how to build a sound wall end allows you to build arches, corners, and other more advanced features into the projects you are constructing. In addition to demonstrating understanding of the structure of a cheek end, test candidates must also build to a much higher level of fit and finish. As wallers advance up the certification pathway, aesthetics figure increasingly in test criteria.

Recognized as the most difficult developmental passage in the certification scheme, members of the Stone Trust professional walling community consider the Level 2 test the most challenging. They recommend that candidates attempt the test having built at least ten vertical wall ends, some alone, some in company of more skilled wallers, and several as practice tests. It is clear that familiarity with the test criteria and timing help test candidates be successful. Of the six candidates who presented, two passed. Quite often, people fail their first attempts and try again once or twice. The Stone Trust offers this guidance to everyone aspiring to Level 2 Waller Certification: LEAPING THE LEVEL 2 HURDLE. Thanks to Brian Post for documenting his advice in this article.

Level 3 test candidates arrived having already proven their skill on the first part of a Level 3 Certification Test. The first part of a Level 3 test involves building a feature wall to be assessed off site individually. “In Pursuit of Level 3” by Alex Hoffmeier describes his Level 3A test experience.

Once candidates pass the 3A test, they move on to the 3B timed test, stripping out and rebuilding 49 square feet of a retaining wall. They move 7 tons of stone in a 7.5 hour time period. Grueling! Of course, the structural, aesthetic, and professionalism standards grow more stringent at each level of advancement. Again, candidates prepare with practice tests. Again, quite often they need to practice more and take the test again. In this case, both candidates on Spring Test Day are in that position.

All of the certification tests are difficult, but the Stone Trust hosts test days to try to make your certification testing as easy as possible. By hosting two test days a year, in addition to testing opportunities throughout the year at other Stone Trust training sites, the Stone Trust Center provides a service for wallers who want to prove their walling skills to the walling community and general public. By achieving certification, you have shown that you can wall to a certain professional standard. The amount of time and effort you put into certification will reflect on your walling work. You can review the pathway to certification and the knowledge and skill required at each level in the DSWA Craftsman Certification Scheme.

The Stone Trust recognizes that certification is important to wallers to confirm their professional knowledge, skill, and experience.  On test days, we bring DSWA-certified Master Craftsman-Assessors to examine your work, so you don’t have to travel to the United Kingdom. The Stone Trust is grateful to all of the wallers who pursue certification and engage professionally in dry stone walling. You are the people who embody the tradition. Your efforts preserve the art and craft of dry stone walling.

Congratulations to all who passed, and good luck to those of you who may try again at future certification dates.

Thank you to our Master Craftsman-Assessors, Jared Flynn, Dean McLellan, Chris Tanguay, and Brian Post. You know better than anyone the commitment required to achieve Level 4 Master Craftsman Certification. Your generosity in maintaining DSWA Assessor credentials makes the Stone Trust’s certification program possible. Without you, other wallers could not so easily pursue their journeys to certification, ensuring the future of dry stone walling in North America.