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Leave the Wall Better Than You Found It: Exactly What You Did at the Stone Trust Center’s Medley Weekend!

A Medley Weekend allows you to learn a variety of stonework skills in just one trip. At this first medley of the year, forty different people traveled to the Stone Trust Center in Dummerston, Vermont to learn the five basic rules of dry stone walling and how to apply them to retaining walls and steps/stairs. You also came for introductions to stone shaping and flatwork. Four of you engaged in the full spectrum of offerings. Others of you arrived to learn specific skills in two to four of the workshop offerings. All of you really took advantage of the medley weekend mindset: learning as much about different aspects of dry stone in a span of days as you could. These weekends especially allow those of you who came from far away to make the most of your trip. You came from all over–from as far as Nevada, California, and even British Columbia!

The week started off with a larger than usual group of wallers learning the basic principles of dry stone walling at an introductory workshop. So many of you wanted to learn dry stone walling that we actually had to add more spots–from 16 to 24! (The Stone Trust maintains a ratio of 8 students to each instructor. Fortunately, an additional professional waller made himself available to teach.)  All 22 of you learned the five basic rules either as a prerequisite to other workshops or to take back to your projects or landscaping businesses. Such a variety of people participate in workshops to gain a solid understanding before tackling projects. And you took away from Stone Trust instructors one of the important principles: Leave the wall better than you found it.

Day two continued with a stone shaping workshop. Participants learned how different types of stone require different tools to make the most out of the materials you work with. You put what you learned into action, using different stones to make a small artistic structure at the end of the day, flexing your creative muscles after a day of learning. (See photo in slideshow below.)

On day three, a packed house at a retaining wall workshop applied the five basic rules to a wall that would need to hold back the ground behind it. Even with a large group, this was no mean feat. These wallers used every minute of the day to take down and rebuild the retaining wall. The sunniest and nicest day of the weekend helped these wallers work very hard as a team to complete the task at hand.

After a hard day of working on the retaining wall, everyone came back just as enthusiastic the next morning to continue their dry stone education. Almost everyone present at the day four steps & stairs workshop returned for their third or fourth day of the Medley. One participant arrived from the Contractor’s Intensive, having the day before earned Level 1 Waller Certification in New Hampshire. The group broke into three teams of three to take on a trio of stairs. As only two sets of stairs existed previously, this group definitely left the area better than they found it!

Last but not least, the flatwork workshop finished the weekend. Although it was a rainy day, you showed high spirits and expressed excitement to go home to put your multitude of new skills into practice. In this workshop, you addressed designing and laying out flagging in attractive patterns. You prepared the bed, learning about drainage, compaction, and filter fabrics. And each of you completed a piece of the flagstone sampler that functions as the outdoor classroom for this workshop..

Stone Trust instructors and staff appreciate the passion many of you bring to learning how to build with dry stone. We feel inspired by your intention to use medley weekends to their fullest and to learn all that you can about dry stone walling. Thanks to all of you for leaving the Stone Trust Center better than you found it.

Thank you, too, to all the instructors! Sam Brakeley, Russell Autrey, and Andras Lazar started the week off right in the intro with positive attitudes and great instruction of the basics. Seth Harris and Torben Larsen brought their expertise to the stone shaping workshop to help people safely learn how to work with stone and tools. Jamie Masefield and Alex Hoffmeier not only helped lead the retaining wall workshop, but got their hands dirty helping the group to accomplish their goal. Victoria Merriman and Ben Maxfield brought their knowledge and experience to teach wallers how to build steps and stairs that will last. Torben Larsen came back to teach flatwork with Curtis Grey, finishing the weekend off strong. Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and time with the Medley Weekend wallers. They truly appreciated it.

Upcoming Medley Weekends take place in New Hampshire on July 6-9 and October 19-22. You can find more information about those and other workshops here. Come learn a lot in just one trip!