Rock Balancing: Turning Ordinary into Exceptional
Building Sculptures Out of Nature's Beauty
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It seems like magic.
“It’s the idea of creating something totally real that looks like it shouldn’t have any business being here,” said Rock Balancer Peter Juhl. “You’re creating something that’s entirely real, and if you do a good job, everybody thinks it’s a trick.”
But it’s more like taking something simple that often goes unnoticed, and turning it into a treasure.
“Rocks are so ordinary, they’re everywhere,” Juhl said. “I wouldn’t call this high art or fine art, but it’s art that people respond to.”
Twenty summers ago, Juhl started balancing stones.
I stood it up and was kind of amazed, and then of course, what do you want to do? You want to try another one,” Juhl laughed.
Now, he has become the master of his hobby.
“Your tools are your hands, and friction, and weight, and shape,” Juhl described.
He says the trick is about capitalizing on nature’s blemishes.
“For example this rock has a little imperfection right there,” Juhl demonstrated. “I could put that on top of a rock here, and if I put a counter–weight there, it would balance.”
He says he has conversations with the rocks.
“You’re moving the rock, and the rock is responding, and then you’re responding to that by moving another rock,” laughed Juhl.
The key to choosing the right rock is finding one that has a whole lot of bubbles, chips and imperfections.
A beginner may use a larger chip, whereas an expert may use one that’s a little bit smaller and challenge themselves a bit more.
For Peter, rock balancing is a performance.
“I’ve gathered big crowds on beaches doing this,” he said.
At the same time, it’s meditation.
“If I’ve spent a whole day balancing rocks out on the beach, I feel wonderful,” he admitted.
Though he knows his masterpieces can come down within minutes, that’s perhaps his greatest fascination.
“You have a sculpture,” Juhl said. “Once you’re done, you have a piece of art that is more beautiful for the fact that it’s not going to be there tomorrow.”
It’s the contrast between ordinary and exceptional that, for Peter, never gets old.
“Creating something that I never get tired of looking at,” Juhl smiled.
Peter travels around the Northland giving lessons to both beginners and experts.
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