Another voussoir..

The day after Christmas 2000, I went to Tucson to begin working for two weeks. I first constructed my scaffold, of two semicircular pieces of plywood joined by three 2x2 posts and eye-screws for handles so it could be pulled apart and reassembled. This was a crucially important piece of work (as ingenious as Brunelleschi's Florentine dome was, many historians are equally impressed with the contraptions he devised to use in the construction). I also traced a full-scale frontal elevation on plywood to guide in sizing and placement, and made a full-scale cardboard model of a single voussoir to carry around the yard when selecting rocks for carving. I also acquired a large $10 flat and point from Home Depot, to use with a solid steel 10 lb hammer found in the tool shed, for crude hacking at large masses. (When I switched from these tools to Peter's, the latter proved their absolute value.) Then I began smashing.

Work proceeded very slowly at first. Reducing a large rock with hammer and chisel is a slow process to begin with, but having never done it before, prior to every stroke I would have to decide which tool to use and how to address the rock. Also I quite wisely forced myself to take frequent breaks whenever my arms got too tired, because the last thing I wanted was to accidentally hit my hand instead of the chisel and be out of commission for a very long time. Yet every day, from early morning to sundown, I would sit in the yard with a rock between my legs and my hammers and chisels at my side and hammer away at the rock, and I enjoyed it very much. At the end of the two weeks I had finished exactly one voussoir (out of ten, plus keystone), but I had become very comfortable and natural with my tools and techniques.

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