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Postby AndyCocker » Mon Nov 05, 2007 10:09 pm

jerryg wrote:Andy back from his T/C yet?

I am, yes. Sorry for not getting back as I said I would.
The course was very enjoyable, with great instructors, and the weather was mostly kind to us.
Dunno if I displayed any 'natural' walling talent, but I think I 'get' what makes a strong wall and how it holds itself together.
I think my main failing (if you can call it such) is aiming for perfection and taking too bloody long (I wanted to learn to do it 'right'). I was both surprised and annoyed at how I could walk up and down looking for a suitable stone, only to have any one of the instructors walk over, bend down and pass me a stone accompanied by "try this one" - and of course it was usually perfect. That's the bit that comes with time I guess.
I'm hoping to visit the site in the near future to get some more practise in, though I'm slightly concerned about my right knee which got quite sore and a little swollen during the course and hasn't been right since. It'll probably sort itself out tho.
As for my walling future? We'll have to see how things work out. I clearly need to get my initial exam under my belt before anyone will take me at all seriously, and will aim to do so, though if a full time job offer in I.T comes my way, I'm probably gonna have to take it and pursue walling as a hobby which may lead somewhere one day.
It seems many people do just this, finding it a rewarding pursuit, and I can see why.
All the best,
Andy
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Postby Hywel » Thu Nov 08, 2007 6:23 pm

It was so good to arrive at this forum and find so many interesting discussions going on.

Andy, the issues surrounding this thread are pretty pertinent to me, so I'll try and help in any way I can. I decided to take up walling two years ago, with the intention of doing it full time. It was probably the best, and most challenging, decision I ever made.
After attending a couple of excellent DSWA training weekends, I assumed that there would be apprenticeship schemes and reams of information about how to go about entering the craft, but I was dead wrong. There IS a Lantra DSW Apprenticeship structure (http://www.lantra.co.uk/stakeholders/ap ... s-england/), but nobody i spoke to seems to have heard of it. I didn't find anybody willing to take on a novice, and was disappointed by the lack of support from the DSWA. Good luck finding someone to take you on, because it must be without doubt the best way to learn how to wall for a living whilst achieving high standards of quality.
I, however, am bullish and stubborn and decided that if no-one else was going to teach me, then I'd teach myself. I do not recommend this to most people.

A good place to start is www.wwoof.org.uk - via this organisation I got in touch with smallholders all over the country, who were ecstatic about having someone come to repair their walls, even an untrained oik. So I got to practice in Cumbria, the Isle of Skye, Snowdonia and here in West Yorkshire. I also worked for free for friends, and friends of friends, and friends of friends of...

I then started working in my local area, but always made abolutely clear to everyone involved that I was a trainee, that I was working on less than the minimum wage for a reason, and that my standard of work would not be as high as a qualified craftsman. People were very supportive and encouraging.
Things to remember:
- Always set yourself high standards. Do not accept any sloppy stone placement, running joints etc. Once you get into the habit, it stays with you.
- The first winter is always the toughest.
- It can take a good few months for your body to build up enough stamina to work 8 hour days.

During the first year I had numerous crises of confidence, melancholy and frustration - what I needed more than anything was a mentor, someone to talk to, to ask questions of, and most importantly reassure me that I was doing okay. But there was no one around who was willing to fill that role.

After eight months I took the intermediate level certification exam at Otley & Dales. It was probably too soon, but I passed, and subsequently slowly increased the amount I charged as I felt my work improve. Now, two years after diving in at the deep end, most of my clients come to me through word of mouth, and I'm thinking about taking the advanced level exam next summer. Walling for a living is the most enjoyable, rewarding thing I can imagine. I've never looked back.

I'm glad you enjoyed the training weekend - I'd be interested to hear about where you go from here. Let us know!

Best of luck,
Hywel
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Postby AndyCocker » Thu Nov 08, 2007 10:11 pm

Hywel wrote:Walling for a living is the most enjoyable, rewarding thing I can imagine. I've never looked back.

Hywel,

I wanted to say thank you for a really inspiring and helpful post. If you don't mind, I'd like to discuss your experiences further at some point.

I'm away for a few days from tomorrow as it's my 1st wedding anniversary, but will send you a private message when I get back.

All the best,

Andy
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Postby Yseesee » Fri Nov 09, 2007 6:35 am

Happy Anniversary to you and yours Andy!
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Good Luck

Postby Gary Muir » Fri Nov 09, 2007 9:29 am

Hi Andy, hope your weekend went well, and happy anniversary.
You had some interesting feed back over the last couple of weeks and I hope the advise and critisism spured you on in the course.
Just remember all the wallers have been there at some stage, even the master craftsmen.
Just give it your best at this stage, because you will have good sessions as well as bad. And in time, who knows.
All the best Andy.

Gary.
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Postby Hywel » Sun Nov 11, 2007 5:42 pm

Hi Andy,
Happy anniversary!
I'm glad I could be of use - please do get in touch. My internet activity is erratic, so don't be insulted if I don't reply immediately!
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Postby AndyCocker » Tue Dec 18, 2007 11:41 am

Hi,

Progress! Here's a pic of my first solo wall. Took me quite some time, and is not perfect (had a bit of a slope issue, but rescued it - I'll be wary of this next time), but I'm mostly pleased with it.

Image

My thanks to Gary Helliwell of the South Yorks DSWA Branch for all his help and advice.

Merry Christmas,

Andy Cocker
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Postby jerryg » Tue Dec 18, 2007 5:31 pm

well done that man. Obviously a born waller then.

I've seen walls pictured on professional DSWA wallers websites that couldn't touch that bit of wall.
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Postby stonewaller » Tue Dec 18, 2007 6:41 pm

Ditto

Sean
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Postby Yseesee » Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:28 am

That looks like a wall all right, I think I see a certification or two in your future! Keep up this standard and you'll do just fine.

Happy Holidays :D
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Postby AndyCocker » Wed Dec 19, 2007 2:01 pm

Thanks guys. :D

Andy Cocker
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Postby xborderdyker » Thu Dec 20, 2007 9:47 pm

well done for a beginer andy, i dont know if there is still apprenticeships with proffesional dykers but i presonally feel that this is the only way learn the trader properly. well done anyway keep it up
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Postby david perry » Fri Dec 21, 2007 6:43 am

:D :D :D Ah, sure its a grand wall and it looks in fine fettle. :D :D :D
I just like stone!!

Click the globe in the bottom right corner to see my blogg
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Postby bhutcheon1 » Sat Dec 22, 2007 1:44 pm

Be proud of it Andy,its a good one.

Bruce
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Postby Hywel » Thu Dec 27, 2007 12:56 pm

Very impressive. You're obviously a natural.
Well done!
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