One day, Michael Grab was hanging out with a friend around Boulder Creek in Boulder, Colorado, feeling bored when the friend mentioned some rock piles he had seen. With nothing else to do, they began building their own rock pile creations.
"Before I knew it, we were out there for a few hours," Grab explained in a video about his newfound hobby. "I had made maybe 10 or 15, and I just felt really good so I kept doing it."
That was in the summer of 2008, thousands of rock piles ago, or what Grab calls “balances.”
Grab, 29, told GrindTV in an email that he started rock balancing with no goal in mind, but the weekend activity on hot summer afternoons "quickly became a passion."
"It's a fun way to relax, release stress, play, create … learn … all while challenging my skills and dabbling with countless possibilities," Grab explains on his website GravityGlue.com, so named since gravity is the only "glue" that holds these structures in place.
He describes balancing rock piles as meditative art, a life lesson, and a worldwide phenomenon.
The majority of his balances are done in Boulder Creek, but he has made creations in Grundtjarn, Sweden; on the north edge of Loch Ness, Scotland; the north shore of Lake Constance in Kressbronn, Germany; on the Adriatic coast of Italy; and Ottawa, Canada.
"Basically everywhere I go I am looking for possibilities to balance," he told GrindTV.
They can take anywhere from a minute to a few hours to a few days to complete. "If I’m frustrated, it usually adds time," he said. "If I’m calm and non-expecting, it usually subtracts time."
And how long do these creations usually last?
"Usually my more precise balances last anywhere between 10 minutes and days, depending on wind," he said. "However, if safety is an issue, I always remove them upon leaving the site."
One of the more difficult balances is the orb, a sphere balanced precipitously on a small perch (photo at top). Grab said he builds those at Woods Quarry, a 30-minute hike from the edge of Boulder. They can take four hours to all day to create.
"It is a one-shot process," he explained. "If it collapses, I must start all over again from scratch. Much time is taken to precisely form the circular shape in three dimensions while keeping the whole thing balanced."
Check out more of his creations below. A video at the bottom explains his passion in more detail, and if you're interested in how to get started, Gravity Glue explains how it's done.
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