5 Stones

I spent the weekend as an amateur weekend mason and got stuck into the job of making the window sills for the brickie that is due to turn up today. I got 2 full length sills in one piece each out of the 1100mm long stone slabs that I bought as second grade step rejects.

By splitting the slab into 3 pieces, it gave me 3 useful logs that are almost just right for a full length window sill.

I made 3 out of the first block, as the cut was very nice and straight. Just as well, as the second block didn’t split so well and I was only able to get 2 out of the 3 that were useful for dressing into sills, as the cut wandered off as it went down and left an rather difficult bulge, that would have necessitated a lot of work to get square.

Luckily, I only need 5 sills of this dimension, so I’m home sweet. They each dress up pretty well. I’m not a mason, or even a good amateur mason, but these stones are all my own work and I own all my faults and limitations. The result is honest hand work, full of minor imperfections that shows that it was done by hand by an amateur, and not bought from a yard where they import Chinese stones.

We are so used to perfection these days in the affluent West in everything that we buy. Computer driven CAD manufacturing makes no mistakes, and in a way that is a good thing. We now have cars that don’t break down or even need servicing for one whole year at a time. It is an amazing achievement, and made life a whole lot easier, as long as you are one of the privlidged, lucky ones, who just happens to be in the upper levels of society from a stable and loving family background with continued good support, who got a good education and ended up in a well paid professional career.

I came from such a stable background, but chose to live as an artist, and therefore I have lived at a level that the government defines as below the poverty line, because my income is low. However, I’m not living in poverty. I have lived a very good life of self-imposed restraint and austerity. I’m energised and enlivened by my choice of career. My low income status is a decision that I made, because I chose to live a creative, hands-on life. The right choice for me. No regrets.

So I see the perfection in mass produced things all around me in other peoples homes and lives. For instance, I have a friend who drives a quarter million dollar Porche car. He knows perfection. I chose a different path in life and for many years drove 2nd hand, older model cars that all needed constant maintenance. So I know the difference.

I don’t need computer driven CAD manufactured perfection in my life. What I aspire to is creative, hand made character. My hand made stone sills have this character. I’m proud of all their slight wobbles, unevenness and minor imperfections. I put them there by my incompetence and enthusiasm to get the job done.

So I have managed to beat the clock and make the 5 stones needed by Sunday night. Some sort of achievement. I’m not too sure what. I don’t have time to debate it. As the brick layer will be here in half an hour, and my next two weeks will be pretty tied up in being a brickie’s labourer. Bring it on!

The arris on the edge is a bit rough, but I am Steve (H)arris on.

‘5 Stones’ A satisfying evening view!