Properly setting stacked stone is an art form.
As with anything, the more time you put into something, whether it's sports, music, painting, or in my case stacked stone, the better you will be at it. Once you get past that 10,000 hour mark, you become an elite, "whatever you do". I have laid thousands of square feet of stacked stone over the years. I am getting close to my 10,000 hours, and have found some things to be rather interesting.
These things of interest are not just only with me. I've talked with other stone masons, read books, and done a lot of research online, and these gifted stone masons will all tell you that the stones will start to, "talk to you".
As crazy as it may sound, it is true. I know from personal experience. They don't talk about sports, or the weather, or give pep talks, it is more in my, and other stone mason's perception.
How the stones will talk to you.
It makes perfect sense when you experience it. I have spent over a month on some projects, and they will, "tell you", where they want to go in the project (I promise I'm not crazy...., maybe a little, HAHA.) The way it works is you have a basic stone design, and you create a foundation for where the project will go.
Then all of your stone is placed around your working area. Usually I will place it flat and spread out vs. in piles. What happens is you pick up a rock and set it. Grab another and set it. Each time you go to set another stone, and from the beginning when all of the stone was laid out, your subconscious mind is looking at the entire pile, and creating a vivid inventory in your mind.
Once you get on a roll, it is almost like a meditative state. When you do something enough times, it becomes a deep rooted habit. Laying stone is a matter of finding the next piece that fits. It's that simple. But when no 2 stones are alike, the next one has to conform to an EXACT size and shape.
The magic occurs when you are in the zone, and you pick up a rock and it fits perfectly into the wall. Then you pick up another, and it fits perfectly. Sometimes down to a 16th of an inch. Then you grab another, and another, and another, and the ALL fit PERFECTLY! That is the stones, "talking to you". The pile says, "hey, over here", and you go and grab the next one, and it fits EXACTLY!. I have worked for several hours straight, many times where magic like that happens. It is a surreal feeling.
Your mind is a sponge, and like a video camera, will record the stone pile. Each time you go back to it, "the video", becomes more vivid. You don't realize it, but your subconscious mind will know where the next rock is always. It is up to the mason to get to a mental state to allow the conscious to hear the subconscious. This is where the rocks, "talk". But really it is just your powerful subconscious at work.
Now there are others whose style demands that rocks are split, cut, and broken to fit. Don't get me wrong, I will do that if I need to, but only after allowing my subconscious to scan the pile.
Nothing says, "piece of art", like a dry laid looking stacked stone wall without a bunch of broken and cut rock.
Using varied sized and shaped rock throughout takes stacked stone to another level.
The last thing you want is to have all of the same sized rock that is the same shape too. Thick ones, long ones, thin ones, odd shaped ones, square ones, rectangular, small, and shims all have to be laid like a mosaic. Big rules are to try to keep all of the shapes from being right next to each other if you can help it.
Another thing to keep in mind is as the stacked stone wall rises from the ground, there will be spaces between 2 rocks. You have to make sure you add the stone on the next level so that a line doesn't go from the bottom of the wall through several courses of rock. This doesn't look good, and creates an unstable wall.
Let's not forget about color. Personally with my stacked stone style, I like to use stone with varying colors. When doing a multicolored stacked stone wall I make sure to mix up the color along with the size of the stones. When using all of the same stone, this doesn't matter. Give me jurisdiction to creating the most artistic stacked stone wall, and you will always see multicolored stone.
I hope you have enjoyed getting inside the mind of a stacked stone artisan. What I do is a timeless skill that has been done for thousands of years.
If you are looking for some old world type stacked stone, please let me know. I would love to work with you. Jeff 904-333-0411.