Finally, after a month or more of heat, biting flies, and heavy lifting, I have reached the top of the studio steps. It feels good. There is still the flagstone landing to do, but that's just sinking stones in place. Did it turn out exactly as I had envisioned it? Maybe not exactly, but it's not too bad. I still want to incorporate some concrete heads into the side walls. I think that will make it special and be a bit of a lasting signature.
The cicada drone on this morning. It's getting hot early...
I completed the first of the actual steps yesterday. My work has improved a bit from my initial efforts. This step drains well, unlike the "too level" landing. I may have to do something about that, but other than laying a new layer over the existing layer, I'm not sure what I can do.
This is an update on the progress of the studio steps project. Yesterday I got into the placing of stones on the "landing" step. The day before I had dry fit everything. Cutting, or I should say, breaking the flagstones was an exercise in trust. The gentleman who sold me the flagstone said if one hammers a line with increasing intensity, the stone will break along that line. For the most part, that is true.
Mortaring the stones was fairly easy, but the pace was intense at times. Overall, my first time at laying flagstones was pretty successful. There are some things I would do differently next time, but I am pretty pleased with the outcome so far. A lot more work to go to finish this project, but I think it will be ok.
What an all-consuming task it has become, though. I believe that has more to do with my character than the project itself. That is the way I tend to approach things.
One other thing I should note. Perhaps it is the roughness of my work or just the nature of stone, but I couldn't help but think this project already looks ancient. It is blending in with the desert, as though it knows something I do not.
I am starting to marvel at quality of concrete. In my pursuit of a solution for steps to the studio, I am becoming quite familiar with its workings. It is labor intensive. It is demanding of both the body and the mind. But when I think in the end, I am in essence creating stone, it is somewhat amazing. (I do not know the history of concrete. I must research that...) And, of course, my mind wonders at its possibility as a sculptural medium. I have seen some concrete sculptures that were quite intriguing. There is an artist I met a couple of years ago from the Jemez mountains, who comes to mind. Beautiful work. I must do some experimenting.
This week I have embarked on an adventure that is foreign to me. I am building steps up to the studio. The studio was completed a little over two years ago and the steps have been a nagging afterthought ever since. So, finally I decided the time was right to tackle this project.
I found plans online on how to construct flagstone steps. They looked straightforward and simple. And going about it really is, but the manual labor involved is a bit more than I might have wanted. I guess I'm up to it, because I am doing it. Although, there are more than a few sore muscles at the end of the day.
There is a sense of pride in a pursuit such as this. I am determined to do a professional job. We will see how it ends up. This is not a quick job.
Pat Greenwell is an artist. A painter and sometimes poet, he has been searching the New Mexico desert for a couple of years now, looking for lost possibilities and probable intentions.
"...mostly stream-of-consciousness stuff, you know...