Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"Finding Balance": Guest Article on Rock Balancing

Hello, friendly bloggers!
Just stopped in to share an awesome article I read recently about something I'm quite attached to ~ rocks. I love rock gardens and named this blog after the word "cairn", which comes from the Scottish Gaelic word ca'rn, a term used mainly for a man-made pile (or stack) of stones.(source -

I am entranced by the work of Michael Grab, a rock sculptor and balance artist. I would love to someday try to do some of my own rock garden art, even though I know I could never make anything near what he does. It's amazing. Enjoy the article. And if you are curious, check out the interview with him at the site below in red letters.

The Zen of Rock Balancing / Garden Design Magazine

As it turns out, you don't need sleight of hand or even mud to design gravity-defying cairns. You do need a bit of patience, though, and a knack for "knowing the rocks," according to Michael Grab, an land artist who has been balancing rocks since 2008. He builds his sculptures with rocks from the natural landscape, usually alongside water. 
Rock balancing is an internationally recognized craft {I never knew this!}; Grab has been invited to design sculptures at rock balance festivals in Italy, Costa Rica, and Boulder, Colorado, where he spends most of his time. He writes about the different types of rock in each location: the vividly colored granite and sandstone in Boulder Creek; the uniform limestone in Ottawa; the powdery, rounded rocks in Portonova, Italy; the bubble-like forms in Cattolica, Italy, where "rocks were much harder, and therefore more forgiving to balance," writes Grab. "They also consisted mainly of an orange color in the stone, which beautifully contrasted the blue sky." 

After selecting the rocks, Grab studies their surfaces. As he writes:
"The most fundamental element of balancing in a physical sense is finding some kind of 'tripod' for the rock to stand on. Every rock is covered in a variety of tiny to large indentations that can act as a tripod for the rock to stand upright, or in most orientations you can think of with other rocks. By paying close attention to the feeling of the rocks, you will start to feel even the smallest clicks as the notches of the rocks in contact are moving over one another."

The next step, he says, is to "find a zero point, or silence within myself." Grab speaks about rock balancing with a calm fervor that verges on holistic mysticism. He finds a reflection of the world in the balanced rocks, which are “precariously sturdy, mysterious, and fragile.” To hear Grab talk about it, with its emphasis on zen focus and precise form, rock balancing could be the new meditation, or the new yoga, which begs the question: Who is holding the form? The artist or the rocks? 

An interview with Michael Grab, in which he discusses how he began and several of his public performances, is here.  

Here is a demonstration of him balancing some rocks. Just amazing!! (Even the sound of the water in the background is so relaxing!)

He has several "Youtube videos" that show his work.

He also has a website called "Gravity Glue"


  1. Very interesting info, love your blog, will save so can re-read again, this info would be great on my garden blog,,

  2. What a wonderful craft. Patience and beauty captured. Had to 'pin' a couple of his shots so I can come back to this. Thank you for your post on this individual craft. Take care. Chel

  3. Wow! Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop xo


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