Introducing Leonard the log!

After taking the introductory Roman mosaics class and falling hopelessly in love with the hammer and hardie, I immediately began my search for a log in which to embed my hardie.

Walking around the neighbourhood, I made a mental note of all the trees marked with the bright red “X” that means they’re destined to be chopped down. I knew it was a long shot, but I thought maybe, just maybe, I would happen to wander by at the exact moment that a crew was cutting down a tree and would be able to convince them to give me a small log. Well, that never happened. But here’s what did happen:

While biking through the city to meet up with some friends, I happened upon a pickup truck loaded with manageable rounds of wood from what looked like a freshly felled tree. I stopped, got off my bike, and went over to the truck. Nobody was there. I waited for almost 15 minutes, hoping the truck’s owner would return. Alas. Reluctantly, I carried on my now not-so-merry way, sad to be walking away from such a prime find.

I told my two friends the story of my search for a log and about the truck I had just passed. They wanted to help. As we parted ways, one asked: “Do you want us to come back to the truck with you since we have a car?” I told her not to worry about it – the truck was probably gone by now anyway. So I hopped on my bike and headed for home.

And…you guessed it: the truck (and its load of logs) was still there!

This, I convinced myself, was a sign from the universe. I was meant to have a log from that truck. It was now dark out, and taking a log from the back of a pickup truck didn’t seem quite as bad as it had in broad daylight. It was just one little log among many, and it was probably just destined for the fireplace or the wood chipper anyway. However, there was just one problem: there was no way I could carry it on my bike. I paused for just a heartbeat, then did a u-turn and booted it back to where my friends were parked.

“Please let them still be there. Please let them still be there,” I panted, biking as fast as I could. As I approached where we had parted ways, they were just pulling out of their parking spot. I manoeuvred my bike alongside their car and waved frantically. They saw me and waved a friendly wave back, as if to say “Oh hey, there’s Julie. Hi Julie!”. They didn’t understand! Their car pulled ahead slightly and I dug deep, willing myself to go faster. As I came up beside the car again, I waved my arm to get their attention again and then did the universal ‘roll down your window’ sign, at which point I shouted breathlessly, “It’s still there!!! Help?!”

Being the dears they are, they turned around and followed me back to the truck. With a bit of muscle and a lot of teamwork, we liberated my chosen log, which then travelled with my friends back to their place. A few weeks later, we met up again and they brought my log, which they had christened Leonard. Len and I then made the trip back to my place by bus. My arms nearly fell off in the process – he’s a hefty chunk of wood – but we made it.

Leonard in his natural state

After letting him dry out a bit beside the rad, I gave him a good sanding on the top and bottom and then, finally, screwed up the courage to drill the hole for the hardie. I didn’t really have the proper tools, but I made do with a regular drill, a hammer, and a big screwdriver. (A drill with a much larger bit, plus a mallet and chisel, would probably have been a bit more ideal.)

Len after his sanding. Looking good, Len!

I’ve since taken Leonard out for a test drive on some marble subway tiles I picked up at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Pretty slick! I have the feeling this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship…

Here’s Leonard, all decked out. (The hardie wasn’t embedded quite deeply enough at this point, but I could stop myself from snapping a pic during one of the pauses in my drilling / chipping!


Hahaha, fabulous!!! I loved reading your posts as I have been a mosaist for 20 + years and just returned from my first mosaic class with Sonia king……..these posts are priceless…….I had never used a hammer and hardie until this class and I’m in love….”) I too went on a journey for my log but never named him… I just might have to”) thanks for sharing, I love your work and the stonework is going places for you…….all the best, Elizabeth

Thanks for your kind words, Elizabeth! Always glad to meet a fellow hammer and hardie (and mosaic) enthusiast :-) I took one of Sonia’s classes at IMA – it was fantastic! If you really want to get up close and personal with your hammer, try to take a class with Rachel Sager. You won’t regret it.

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