From the moment I laid my first stone, almost fifteen years ago, my ultimate goal in regards to my job has never changed:
"Always do the absolute best I possibly can, and then do the next job better."
I started landscaping at the age of eleven, mowing my grandmother and her friends' lawns. I'm not really sure if spin trimmers were invented yet, but either way, I was given scissors to trim around the fences and trees: patience while working was instilled early on. Another gift, given to me by my grandmother was the saying, "Anything worth doing, is worth doing well." I can still hear her saying that in my head, when she'd show me a spot I'd missed in her lawn.
As frustrating as it was to hear that back then, I'll easily admit that it did a lot to shape my way of thinking about every project that I accomplish nowadays.
I stopped mowing their lawns in high school, and it wasn't until I was almost 21 that I got back into the field of outdoor property maintenance. I worked for a lawn mowing crew, then a gardener, then finally as a stonemason in the town where I live.
From the moment I started working with stone, I knew I'd never stop.
Never had I been so fulfilled after a full day of work. I got great exercise, both physically and mentally. I got endless fresh air, working outside at some of the nicest job sites you can imagine. I was lucky enough to get to work with two great landscape designers; Tony Elliot, from Snug Harbor Farm, and Helene Lewand, from Blackrock Farm. All of my of gardening knowledge can be directly traced to those two mentors. Tony was also kind enough to introduce me to the world of dry stone walling, which would forever alter me as a craftsmen, and completely change how I viewed everything about stone.
Tony gave me an article about Dan Snow, a dry stone waller in Vermont. He was standing on the top of a wall without mortar, where the capstones were laid on end (upright). In the still picture, you had no doubt that none of those stones were going to move anytime soon. Seeing something so beautiful that was built with only what nature gave you, Inspired and intrigued me to the point of NEEDING to learn this craft. So that's what I've been doing since...
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Over the past few years, I've had the pleasure of working with some of the most talented stonewall builders alive. I've traveled to Canada and England to hone my skills, and I have to say, it was the best money I've ever spent on myself, for any reason. Unfortunately, until recently, there has been nowhere in the U.S. to really learn how to do any kind of stonework properly.
It is incredibly fulfilling to have the opportunity to travel around and soak up knowledge from other builders and wallers.
Its a form of soul food.
Here are some pictures of the trips I've taken, and the builds we've done together.