If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Gary Joslin while visiting Joslin’s Jewelry, then you know all about his passion for precious stones. You might also be familiar with his love for fast cars, but did you know there’s a whole other side of Gary that loves even bigger rocks than the ones he uses to create fine jewelry?
Even though Gary and his family are blessed with busy days at the store helping their loyal patrons, he still makes time for the other activities he enjoys outside the store, like building these incredible granite fountains. Beautiful, deep red granite boulders are skillfully stacked and arranged to create these striking art pieces. Where does Gary get all these gorgeous granite rocks to make his fountains with? Well, he digs the boulders up himself!
Gary first discovered these granite boulders when he was tracking deer on a friend’s 180-acre property north of Topeka. He noticed there were hundreds upon hundreds of these red granite beauties of all shapes and sizes around the property. Gary did a little research and discovered that these boulders had actually made quite a trip to get here. “These boulders came to Kansas from Canada during the Ice Age when the ice cap moved all these boulders down to the Midwest and stopped right around Topeka.”
Gary has been visiting this property with the granite rocks for another pastime he enjoys – bow-hunting for deer. On these trips, Gary was inspired to plow a small plot of land to plant ground coverage plants that would provide the deer with food. With approval from the property owner, Gary set to work and realized firsthand just how many of the granite boulders there really were. “Every time you see one boulder and get it out of the ground, there’s another one right underneath – there’s like three layers of these boulders!” These rocks are big nuisances to farmers, who need the land free from debris to be able to plow and grow food. As Gary set to work clearing away boulders for his food plot, he found that the work was actually kind of fun and was a nice workout for him.
With so many boulders around, Gary had plenty to dig up in his free time while bow-hunting. He began with the smaller ones and gradually worked his way up to bigger and bigger rocks. And he loved them – they were a beautiful earthy red granite with an awesome history behind them. So, of course, Gary began bringing them home with him and placing them around his own home. Digging these beautiful boulders up wasn’t just great exercise for Gary – he also found it to be an excellent way to relieve stress from work and rejuvenate his mental health. But, someone else was not so fond of all the red rocks showing up at her home.
“No More Boulders!”
As Gary’s granite boulder collection at home began to expand into the hundreds, his wife told him they had to go. She told Gary he needed to do something with them, because they were everywhere, from the front yard to the backyard. Gary began brainstorming what he could do with all his boulders and a brilliant idea came to him one night in a dream – fountains! He figured out how he could stack them to create beautiful water features around his home.
To create his fountains, Gary uses a coring drill with diamond bits and water running through it to hollow out a center hole in the boulders. This process is no easy feat. When he first began, he wasn’t making any progress so he called up a friend with coring experience and was told he was around 60 lbs. short of the weight he needed to properly drill through the granite. But this didn’t stop Gary. He discovered a way to use a hammer to help get the drilling started and soon he was getting clean holes drilled through his granite boulders in record time.
The secret to moving boulders – work smarter not harder!
So, how does Gary move these boulders? Some of the bigger ones he’s brought home were hundreds of pounds. In fact, the largest boulder Gary has used for a fountain weighed over 600 lbs.!
“Getting the boulders out of the ground is a real challenge, but I like the challenge. They may say ‘You can’t do that!’, but I just say ‘Watch me!’”
First, to get a boulder out of the ground, all Gary uses is a shovel to clear away the earth from around it. With the boulder free from the ground, he then ties up the boulder to his ATV and drags it back to his truck, where he has a small trailer hooked up that is perfect for hauling boulders. He then whips around his ATV to perfectly roll the boulder up the ramp into the bed of his trailer.
Many of the heavier boulders require some help when lifting and moving – sometimes up to five people need to work together to get the job done! But Gary has another trick for getting the heavy ones out of his trailer by himself. He figures out where he wants to sit in his yard, maneuvers his truck just right, and lassos the boulder securely to a tree. He then drives out from under the boulder, letting it fall right where he wants it!
Year-Round Water Features
These unique fountains bring Gary, his family, neighbors, and the local birds, joy all year long! Gary makes a point to never let his fountains shut off, whether it’s summer or winter. During the hot months, Gary’s 11 different fountains around his home provide a refreshing drink and a cool bathing place for the birds. He also takes the time to add shrubs and flowers around his fountains to make the whole space truly enchanting and relaxing.
As beautiful as Gary’s granite fountains are in the summer, they take on a whole new level of beauty during the winter months! When the temperature drops below freezing, Gary makes sure all his fountains have full tanks, so as they run water down from the top over the rocks, it begins to freeze. Once they have frozen over, each of his fountains is transformed into a one-of-a-kind ice sculpture.
Gary’s passion for these red granite boulders and the fountains he creates with them comes from his love of taking things that are beautiful and expanding upon them, making them into true treasures. “More than anything, it’s therapy. It’s an opportunity to get out and do something after work and I have a lot of fun doing it!”