SEEKING THE AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE - “The aesthetic experience is a simple beholding of the object…you experience a radiance. You are held in aesthetic arrest.” -Joseph Campbell

I am HUGE fan of Jason Silva (a young, brilliant philosopher-futurist) and his short films called "Shots of Awe" that he posts on YouTube.

He describes in words what runs through my mind all the time as a stonesmith-designer-builder of experiences for humans.  My new project will be my greatest challenge thus far and will require that I move through many "dips" that Seth Godin discusses in his book aptly titled "The Dip".  I now speak with complete honesty, candor and rawness to new clients about what I envision in my imagination and feel in my heart about their projects.  

For this massive project with a very, very large budget for a wealthy client I wrote a letter to him and his wife using a white gel pen on black paper describing my vision. Then, I sent him this link to watch.  It's a new way of engaging clients for me that is very authentic too.

Watch this very short film by Jason Silva "Seeking the Aesthetic Experience" (CLICK ON THE TITLE) as it so clearly articulates my goal with this forthcoming project in Truckee, California with all the members of my new Consortium called The Throughstone Group.

THE ENERGY DYNAMIC: THE CLIENT & THE CRAFTSMAN

THOSE OF US WHO ARE HARD-WORKING, PASSION-DRIVEN DRYSTONE MASONS/WALLERS OR CRAFTSMEN PLY AWAY AT OUR VARIOUS TRADES BECAUSE WE LOVE WHAT WE DO... PERIOD!  I DON'T KNOW ANY GREAT ONES WHO LIVE EXTRAVAGANTLY RICH LIVES.  IN FACT, A LIFE IN PURSUIT OF LEISURE ONLY AND ENDLESS CONSUMPTION IS WHAT WE ARE ACTUALLY DISINTERESTED IN FOR OURSELVES. RATHER, WE TAKE IMMENSE PRIDE IN THE PURSUIT OF MORE CHALLENGING PROJECTS AND BUILDING THINGS THAT WILL LAST FOR GENERATIONS. 

I KNOW A LOT OF CRAFTSMEN RANGING FROM DRYSTONE WALLERS TO BLACKSMITHS AND FROM CANVAS SEWERS TO WOODWORKERS.  ONE COMMON COMPLAINT (AND OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE) IS THE LEVEL OF IGNORANCE THAT PREVAILS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ABOUT THESE TRADES AND WHAT THEY MEAN FOR THE ENERGY DYNAMIC THEY CAN BRING TO HOMES AND SPACES.  

BEYOND THE IGNORANCE IS THE LACK OF MONETARY VALUE SOME (NOT ALL) CUSTOMERS PLACE ON OUR SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE.  FURTHERMORE, NOTHING - AND I MEAN NOTHING - IS WORSE THAN SECURING A CONTRACT TO BUILD A FEATURE FOR CLIENTS AND THEN, AS THE PROCESS BEGINS, TO DISCOVER THEY ARE "MONEY-RICH" (POOR IN CHARACTER, EMPATHY AND ABILITY TO RELATE TO MOST OF THE WORLD), ADULT HUMANS AFFLICTED WITH "AFFLUENZA".  THEIR ENERGY DYNAMIC IS TO ATTEMPT TO DEVALUE OUR WORK BY TRYING TO DEMAND SHORTCUTS, COMPLAIN ABOUT HOURLY WAGES OR PRICING, AND SO ON. THEY ARE BLIND TO WHAT IS POSSIBLE AND TO THE CRITICAL ENERGY DYNAMIC BETWEEN THE CLIENT AND THE MASON.  

SO, WE EITHER SUCK IT UP, FINISH THE PROJECT AND LEARN TO APPRECIATE THE APPRECIATIVE CUSTOMERS WHO LIVE OTHERWISE OR, SOMETIMES, WE SIMPLY HAVE TO CHOOSE TO WALK AWAY WHEN IT ALL BECOMES TOO TOXIC AND ENERGY-DRAINING AND LEARN TO LISTEN TO THE LITTLE VOICE IN OUR HEADS THAT TELLS US WHEN TO SAY "NO" TO A POSSIBLE PROJECT EVEN WHEN WE DESPERATELY NEED THE MONEY TO TAKE CARE OF OUR FAMILIES.  

A Dream Project for Many Real Stone Masons...

I love using Facebook as a "tool" for connecting with other stone masons and earthen builders.  I connected with a stone mason in Turkey via a stone mason in South Carolina.  The mason in Turkey posted this link of a stone mason named Marc Archambault in Asheville, North Carolina.  

This cabin he and his team built is one of those maybe-once-in-a-lifetime projects.  His story is great and shows his gratitude and humbleness of being hired to do this work for someone.  All homes should have this kind of energy associated with their construction.  

http://hammerheadstoneworks.com/stone-cabin/

 

A New Direction in 2015...

THE PURPOSE OF MY BUSINESS CONTINUES TO EVOLVE.  

NOW, MY INTENTION IS TO DESIGN AND BUILD EXPERIENCE AND SPACES, FROM EARTHEN-BASED MATERIALS, THAT CULTIVATE CONNECTION WITH OURSELVES, WITH OTHERS & WITH NATURE. (I BELIEVE THAT THE LACK OF CONNECTION WITHIN OUR SPECIES IS THE GREATEST DESTRUCTIVE FORCE WE FACE. THUS, WHAT I CAN OFFER, IN TERMS OF A SOLUTION, IS TO CREATE EXPERIENCES AND SPACES THAT ALLOW FOR CONNECTION TO HAPPEN.)

EARTH: IN 2015, I AM SETTING OUT ON A NEW JOURNEY TO LEARN ABOUT OTHER MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES SUCH AS EARTHEN PLASTERS, RAMMED EARTH, COB, AND MUCH MORE.  I DO THIS SO THAT I CAN BEGAN DESIGNING AND BUILDING HUMAN HABITATS, OUTLYING STRUCTURES, A NEW LINE OF "LOUNGES" I'VE CREATED IN MY MIND, MEDITATION SPACES AND MORE.

STONE:  WE SPECIALIZE IN PROVIDING CLIENTS A UNIQUE CAPABILITY TO SOURCE RAW ROCK OR STONE; TO CUT AND SHAPE IT ON-SITE OR TO IMPORT STONE WITH CUSTOM SHAPES, SIZES, TEXTURES AND FINISHES; TO TRANSPORT IT ANYWHERE; AND TO DESIGN AND BUILD STONE STRUCTURES, SPACES OR PROJECTS OF PERMANENCE AND BEAUTY.   

(The image I added is a rammed earth structure and is indicative of what I desire to soon be building.)

 

The Next Big Human Trend...

Great article, but also DISTURBING in the sense that this is labeled as a "growing movement" simply because the human species has become so fucking domesticated.  

On the bright side this aligns with the aim of my business of building with earthen materials and stone:  "Design & Build Experiences that Connect People with Themselves, Others & Nature". 

This year I'm E-X-P-A-N-D-I-N-G by starting down a short-long path of learning to build with Rammed Earth (the most beautiful natural building method in the world, in my opinion), Earth Bag, Earth Plaster, Gabion Basket structures, Straw Bale, Cob, etc. all whilst integrating my dry stone work.

I must blow people's minds and my own with what I envision and build.  So many ideas are "trapped" in the recesses of my brain and MUST be unleashed into the physical realm or I will go "loco".

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE: 

"Nature connection will be the next big Human Trend" - Daniel Crockett

 

"CREATIVITY vs. QUANTS"

In his article "Creativity vs. Quants" (New York Times, March 21, 2014) Timothy Egan perfectly describes the creative types in our world and their process:

"An original work, an aha! product or a fresh insight is rarely the result of precise calculation at one end producing genius at the other.  You need messiness and magic, serendipity and insanity.  Creativity comes from time off, and time out."

(click here to read full article:) http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/22/opinion/egan-creativity-vs-quants.html?_r=0
 

I use his description to better communicate to clients that I'm NOT a contractor, but rather I'm a craftsman, an artisan.   Nor can I usually be accurate on when I can finish building the project because each one is always something unique to the customer.  

When it comes to placing a price on the project I talk about "value" and also that each customer is kind of a modern-day "benefactor" or "patron" that can choose to pay me an amount of money that allows me to continue in my trade; be around for the next customer; and have a little down time in between projects to learn something new, experiment and grow. 

"Engineering Our Own Divinity"

I've been regularly watching Jason Silva's short form video series "Shots of Awe".  One of my favorites is the one titled "Engineering Our Own Divinity" and it completely expresses my sentiments about the new direction I want to move in with my design-build business as it undergoes transformations this year.   In this short video he quotes Steven Johnson: "Our thoughts shape our spaces... our spaces return the favor... they inform, shape and sculpt our subjective experiences.  We script intention into our design."  Therefore, Jason concludes, we can engineer our own divinity!  

Pretty rad, huh?

www.stevenberlinjohnson.com

www.thisisjasonsilva.com

The Beginning of an Outdoor Cooking Space...

Around 2003, some friends showed me a book about Dan Snow's stone projects (click on his name).  A few years ago I was looking at his website once again and saw a stone firepit bowl he built with some choice field stone.  I tried in vain for a handful of work seasons to find a client who wanted to pay me to build my own version.  This past Spring I decided to wait no longer and so I started to harvest stone from the sides of three county roads around here.  Then, I began to build my own version a couple of evenings a week.  The stone was pretty poor for the curves and sizes I wanted/needed and I ended up tooling much more than I anticipated, but  I finally finished last week.  This is phase one of an outdoor cooking space I'm building out back.

Stone Firepit Bowl by Heritage Earth and Stone.jpg

Building a 13th Century Castle in the 21st Century!

In France, this fantastic 13th-century Castle-building (click here) project is still ongoing.  I believe it's in it's 16th year of construction now.  Basically, it's an amalgamation of building, science, tourism and "super cool idea".  The builders use 13th-century building techniques, tools and methods.  Tourists pay to watch the construction in action.  Their money enables this project to continue.  (Note to wife:  I believe I can apply to get on the building crew.  Just need to learn basic French.  Not a problem!) 

Guédelon chateau.jpg

Oshe's Dog Den

On the property we are renting north of Durango, I've been working to bring out the trees' best architecture and potential.  With some of the cut branches of the Elms, Willows, Cottonwoods and Aspens, I built a Dog Den for our Norwegian Elkhound - Oshe.

Oshe's Den 2.jpg

Get Your Own "Awe"... Through Dry Stone Works!

When it comes to explaining the history and tradition of "dry stone" anything there are many others more prolific than I am; and there are dozens of locations on our planet where the conversation could begin.

So, I'm going to skip that for now and move along on a tangent and briefly write something about creating "awe" in your life through dry stone works.  

Whether it be a simple or complex project (such as the one in the photo below) a properly-built dry stone project is GUARANTEED to create a sense of "awe"!

In moments of "awe" the mind becomes still... and in today's world we all need a lot more "awe" to access this stillness.  Everyday, I believe.  

So, I think, why can't I or we have awe every day?  

You can.  I can.  One way is to connect with a real dry stone mason and pay him/her to build you something... and please be patient!  It is a process.

(See the photo of a project by Andrew Loudon - http://www.drystone-walling.co.uk/ - for your own mini-awe-moment!)

 

 

 

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