Creative Stonework
I have always been fascinated with stonework and what people have been
able to accomplish with stone. The pyramids in Egypt, the Great Wall of China,
Castles in Europe and many more are buildings that were built hundreds to
thousands of years ago and are still standing today. Back then these buildings were
built for protection from invaders or as monuments to remember fallen leaders.
Today we use stonework for more aesthetic purposes such as Land Art, building
planters, fireplaces, and retaining walls. One of the best and most artistic people that
uses stones and other materials in his work is Andy Goldsworthy. He has built walls,
sculptures and patterns out of naturally occurring objects and arranges them in an
artistic way. Another person that is very artistic with using stone is the Eckermans,
Michael and Ea. They take Goldsworthy’s artistic ability and apply it to masonry in
houses and yards. And last there is Alan Ash who is not a land artist but a Master
Stonemason who makes walls, fireplaces, and planters with different forms of
masonry. All three of these people work with stone in their own unique way and
what they can make with it is truly incredible.
Andy Goldsworthy’s work is very unique and can be recognized almost
instantly. He gathers naturally occurring materials that are around him and while
organize them in a way that makes a pattern or a structure. He has used leaves of
different colors and arranged them to be dark on the outside and get to a lighter
color as the design goes inward. He has arranged icicles into sea urchin type objects
by freezing them together with his saliva. Goldsworthy is a very creative person
when it comes to using nature in his works. But I am more intrigued with his stone
works. He makes Cairns out of hundreds of different stone pieces using nothing to
hold them together but gravity. These are large egg like structures that he makes
using tightly fitting rocks that he stacks on top of each other. Another structure he
makes is his serpentine walls or stone rivers. It is a curved stonewall that he will
weave through trees and again it is made without any type of grout or mortar and if
you look closely he is able to fit the stones together with very little gaps without
breaking or cutting them. There is no real practical purpose to his projects they are
there just for viewing pleasure, which leads me to the second person that works
with stone in unique ways.
Michael and Ea Eckerman are very creative stonemasons/artists. They use
they creative organization of Andy Goldsworthy but apply it to yards, fountains, and
sculptures. The Eckermans create a lot of arches, fireplaces, and walls that have a
very unique design in them buy using different size stones. To be able to make these
unique designs in their walls, build their fountains, and make there animal
sculptures they have to use grout and mortar in some of their projects so that they
stay together. Where Andy Goldsworthy was only outside, the Eckermans are able to
build their projects inside and out. Their interesting fireplaces can be built
anywhere and they have the same unique look both inside and out. And the walls
they make aren’t always out of naturally occurring materials. They will sometimes
use ceramic pots and little statues in their walls giving them a very interesting look
and other times they will use tile and create mosaic looking projects. This father and
son team could possibly be the most creative and artist people I have ever looked at
and researched.
The Last person I looked at isn’t as artistic as the others but is very good at
what he does. Alan Ash is a Master Stonemason that has been working as a
stonemason for over 30 years. He is certified to restore historic stone buildings and
to teach people his craft. Ash is able to work with Dry stonemasonry, traditional and
modern mortared stonemasonry, and is able to shape stone using various tools.
When he is doing dry stonework he is making walls, planters and fire pits and cuts
the stones into the shape he needs instead of trying to find stones that fit. The
different type of mortar masonry that he does only differs by the type of mortar
used. Traditional mortar is made from lime and natural cements where as modern
mortar is made with more materials that make it stronger and resistant to
weathering. All of his projects are very similar and it’s hard to tell which are
mortared and which are not. He does a lot of planters and retaining walls for
gardens and back yards but none of which are that creative.
Andy Goldsworthy, Michael and Ea Eckerman, and Alan Ash all have a lot of
experience working with stone and in their own ways. They all have extensive
knowledge of how to build things by using the earth’s gravity and without using
mortars. Goldsworthy and the Eckermans have a lot in common with their artistic
ability to organize rocks and build unique and interesting walls as well as making
intriguing designs that draw the eye into certain directions. Goldsworthy and Ash
don’t have as much in common because Ash isn’t as into the art as Goldsworthy is
but Ash and the Eckermans both have extensive knowledge masonry and in making
fireplaces, walls and retaining walls. Ash may not have the artistic side to it but he is
very good at what he does.
Stonemasons and the use of stone have come a long way since the profession
first came about. It used to be all about religious structures and protection such as
the Pyramids, religious statues, churches, and walls. In todays day and age we don’t
use walls and a lot of our churches and religious buildings are built using modern
day building materials. Now we use stone for artistic works like what Andy
Goldsworthy does or for our own personal pleasure like what the Eckermans, and
Alan Ash do. The things that people can build have always interested me and will
continue to.
Works Cited
Ash Stone Masonry
Eckerman Studios
Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University