Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rockin' Rocks

A clammy, wet day today. Overcast and cool, then drizzle in the afternoon.

At least it kept us cooler while we worked on this incredibly overwhelming stone wall project. Cooler, but wet and dirty and dragged down with soggy clothing that got heavy and hard to move in. Gloves were wet inside, but you can't handle stones without them.

This is physically demanding work and neither of us knows what we are doing.

Jim worked hard to figure out the slope of the strip and get the stone dust tamped even so the first course of stones would sit exactly level.

As soon as we started to lay rocks, the painstakingly even and level base was destroyed. You have to rock the rounded stones into place, you have to dig out a well for the uneven sides to sit in, and then you have to move each one multiple times to try it out, rock it level, then try another, then try a third stone, squishing the gravel dust every which way.

I just used slightly bigger rocks at the lower end to the left. We'll try to even things out as each layer is stacked up.  Apparently the whole rock laying thing is 99% art and "feel" and only 1% careful preparation and measuring.

The base course got laid today, I managed to get some rocks on top, and I tried a vertical accent that I'll have to build around. It's a start, but so much more to do, and I am frustrated.

I don't like the rocks to the right of this upright stone. One is canted down, and I had to stack two on top of each other immediately next to the upright, and that looks weird. I may have to redo this area.

It's a rustic stacked wall, so it won't look fitted. It will look rough. But I am beyond confused about how to get them stacked at all. It's impossible to put any rock on top of any others without it rocking and tipping.

I thought there would be more flat(ish) rocks to work with, but about 3/4 of the whole pallet, small and larges sizes both, have somewhat uneven topsides but very rounded irregular bottom sides, so they will not stack on top of each other. They rock. I've already used what evenly flat rocks I could find, and now am trying to fit increasingly rounded tippy rocks over them.

The shapes have so many corners sticking out at odd angles, that I can't place them side to side. I am not trying to get a fitted look, but I want the stones to touch at least in front.

I shim with small stones underneath, but there's a limit to how much chunky rubble you can stuff under every stone and I am already running out of small stuffer stones.

I have no idea what I'm doing. I am incredibly frustrated, Jim's back is killing him, and I am sore all over.

This is not a project that two amateurs who have never laid stone can do, and it is so physically challenging that I am at my limit. What was the guy at Harken's Stone thinking when he looked at us and said "You can do this yourselves, sure." WTF?