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He rocks it – The art of counterbalancing rocks

The art of counterbalancing rocks has been practiced for many years, but it takes a special person with gentle hands and patience to get it right, writes Marzahn Botha.

An afternoon stroll down to the harbour at Yzerfontein might reveal a man practicing the art of balancing rocks on top of each other. There’s more to it than stacking rocks on top of each other; he places each one rock by rock in a floating position, so that it floats in the air. “Optic delusion” is what some people may call it.

The first thing you think is this can’t be real, is it my imagination, if not, how does he do it?

Who is this guy?

Loffie Euvrard (68) is a counterbalancer of rocks on this beautiful West Coast town.

This boerseun with gentle hands is originally from Hanover in the Karoo. Formerly, he farmed on a vineyard farm of 250 ha named Orangerie (name after a French hothouse built in 1704 or something similar to a conservatory) between Paarl and Malmesbury. He now enjoys his retirement in a place he knows by heart and has returned to on holidays for the past 38 years. He has always had a passion for rock and stone that also inspired him to build a small stone house in the mountains on the farm. He and the grandkids call it “Die Wolwehok” and they love to play here with “oupa”.

Tomorrow, he will go back to the farm to help his son harvest.

Loffie sits in his house with a big living area overlooking the long wide stretched beach. A parrot named Carlos squeaks in the background. “My one son worked on a boat and he had a friend called Carlos that never stopped speaking. We then named the parrot Carlos,” smiles Loffie while his big blue eyes lights up. “He will say things like ‘die hok is vuil, die hok is vuil’ when I clean it,” laughs Loffie.

We start speaking about his art form.

“This rock stacking happened by accident. About two years ago, I walked past the harbour and saw rocks stacked on top of each other. I walked towards the stack and wondered how does this all works?

“I started my research, there is actually a school that teaches you, but I have been actively doing it for more than a year.”

Man in his Willys Jeep

Loffie takes me to the harbour in his 1944 Willys Jeep. The Jeep is his pride and joy for the last 20 years and he boast about the rarity of the original key.

We walk towards the edge of the water where Loffie scouts for rocks to display his skills.

“I use these rocks because they were dynamite-blasted to open this road. It’s not natural rock, it has holes and certain structures.

“I check three points on the rocks. “It doesn’t always work but most of the time it does. It’s about finding the three anchor points. When you stack rocks you need the three connections points to be in a balancing act with each other. “Three is a special number, it is exactly the right amount to define a flat surface or a plane. If an object is placed on three contact points it will always be stable.”

He starts his balancing act with two rocks. He basically places the sharp edges of the rocks on top of each other. He twists and sways the points with his fingers until the rocks get stuck.

Ooooowwww!!! Amazing!

After a while he says:

“A bigger rock stands easier, you get its center point easier.” Rocks with a rough surface work easier. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes not.

“Rocks has fallen on my feet and fingers. Usually, the bottom rock falls out and can hurt you. Sometimes the third or fourth rock moves and everything comes tumbling down.”

“Patience is the keyword. I will sit for an hour to make two rocks stand. It’s like meditation, being in the moment.”

According to the youtube channel named Gravity Meditation, the process works like this:

  1. First, you look for an indentation in the rock or a crack.
  2. Place the rock on an edge and get a feel for the center in this position. Do this by slowly moving it around and to feel in which way gravity pulls more, if you feel it gently adjust it.
  3. If you are at its almost center, start looking for your three contacts points. Carefully move the rock until you feel the first resistance.
  4. You know when you found the second point if the rock only moves in two directions. Now you have to find the third point to lean on.
  5. As soon as jy find all three points to lean on you are almost done. The last step is to let go of the rock with as little friction as possible.

Erect and he break it down

“I am always on the lookout for rocks that I can make stand. If I get it right I do take a picture, send it to five family members, then I break it down. I don’t want it to fall on a kid or something awful like that.”

According to him not a lot of people in Yzerfontein know that he practice this floating rock art hobby because he usually breaks it down. Two of his grandkids usually come along. They will ask: “Gaan ons klippe toe”?

“The temporality of rock stacking makes me tick,” says Loffie.

I once balanced seven rocks on top of each other. I left standing because I thought the wind will blow it immediately down. The structure miraculously still stood the next day.

Not too long ago someone asked Loffie if he can build a towering stone structure in their garden.

“I can demonstrate what I do, but a permanent structure would defeat the purpose and meaning of rock stacking. It’s all about finding the perfect state of equilibrium and then breaking it down.”

Many people don’t like to let go of things, yet it is very refreshing. Think of it this way: just be happy that you could create something as fragile. 


Definition of rock stacking

Rock stacking has carried spiritual meaning across cultures for centuries. The act of balancing stone carries with it a practice of patience and a physical effort of creating balance. Each rock can signify an intention of grace for thankfulness, or offered up for another in need.

Rock balancing or stone balancing (stone or rock stacking) is an art, hobby, or form of vandalism in which rocks are naturally balanced on top of one another in various positions without the use of adhesives, wires, supports, rings or any other contraptions which would help maintain the construction’s balance.The number of rock piles created in this manner in natural areas has recently begun to worry conservationists because they can misdirect hikers, expose the soil to erosion, aesthetically intrude upon the natural landscape, and serve no purpose.[

Tips for the novice:

Never forget the tree points.

Use one hand at the top and the others at the contact points during your first experiences.

Use your fingers to each other when you balance the rock at the contact points. You will be able to make small adjustments then.

Have fun!

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cT_AcXIMi5g&ab_channel=GravityMeditation

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