GreenMan Mosaic Recognized by SAMA

A close up of the stones that make up the eye of the GreenMan mosaic.

Close up of the GreenMan mosaic
©2016 David Dietrich


“GreenMan” the mosaic created for the GreenMan Brewery in downtown Asheville has been selected for inclusion in the Society for American Mosaic Artists exhibition Mosaic Arts International: Juried Fine Art and Invitational. It was selected in the Site-Specific category of the juried show. Images of it will hang during the 16th Annual American Mosaic Summit. The show will be visible from May 4 to June 15, 2017 at the Janice Charach Gallery, Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit. The entire show will be posted on-line at AmericanMosaics.org beginning May 4, 2017.
Photo by David Dietrich

The Mountain Waterfall Mosaic

The Mountain Waterfall Mosaic is located at First Baptist Church of Asheville, and it was the last part of the Memorial Garden that we completed there. The waterfall was a collaborative effort between Hammerhead and the crew at Medallion Pools led by Mark Dorsey. While Mark and crew took charge of the waterwork elements of the waterfall, Hammerhead was charged with designing and installing the stone.

Details About the Mountain Waterfall Mosaic

The waterfall is located at the end of the stream path. In fact, the bluestone that runs throughout the stream path represents the flowing water and widens as it reaches the pool. The floor of the pool is completely done in the bluestone as well. The sky in the waterfall mosaic is also bluestone, and I like the implied metaphor here. These elements were key components of the design created by Steve Wyda and Ryan Blau of Vision Design Collaborative, the landscape architects who designed the Memorial Garden.

Stream Path Leading to Waterfall

Stream Path Leading to Waterfall

The spillway is made of mountain stone, while the sun and sunset clouds are made of Tennessee sandstone. The Tennessee sandstone is used throughout the entire project at First Baptist Church of Asheville, including in the stream path, the labyrinth itself, and several of the benches. The mountains are made of a native stone that is sometimes called Emerald Gray. We were able to source it from Marion, NC, a town about an hour east of Asheville.

Mountain Waterfall Mosaic

Mountain Waterfall Mosaic

Our Thoughts About this Project

The waterfall was a very challenging build. It wasn’t one project but rather ten small projects combined, each with its own specific components. And when it was done and the water was flowing for the first time, it immediately became my favorite. The sound of the water washed away the months of stress of getting the whole garden finished.

Our completed waterfall flowing

Our completed waterfall flowing

At Hammerhead, it’s the challenges of the project that get us excited. We will take on almost any project, but we do have a couple of rules: no veneer and no water features. Of course, we broke both of these rules for the waterfall. The mosaic background – the mountains and the sunset – is a cut stone approach to veneer. It’s 4 inches thick, basically the depth of the brick, and is affixed to a block wall coated in shotcrete. I am proud to say, it doesn’t look like any lick’em-stick’em I’ve ever seen.

I try to avoid the naturalistic water features that are so commonplace now. Making mountain streams is Mother Nature’s domain, not mine. But this waterfall had just the right balance of creative freedom in the design, execution, and technical challenges to keep us all engaged and excited about the outcome. It’s my favorite project – for now…

Our completed waterfall flowing

Our completed waterfall flowing

GreenMan Mosaic: Brewery is open!

At long last the GreenMan Brewery has officially opened, meaning I can legitimately post images of the natural stone mosaic we built for them. I already had, but really wasn’t supposed to! It is one of our most ambitious projects to date. The 320 square foot mosaic is comprised exclusively of natural stone, all cut and fitted by the Hammerhead crew. Much of the stone is regional, including a lot of stuff from North Carolina. The yes are malachite found in local gem and mineral shops, though it most likely originated in Africa.

Exploring stone choices for the GreenMan Brewery mosaic.

Exploring stone choices for the GreenMan Brewery mosaic.

This is actually the second full scale face I printed and assembled. The first one showed some clear design concerns, particularly in terms of the size of facial features. It’s one thing to draw at screen size. Blown up to eleven feet across and hung up over my head, it was clear the lips were too big compared to the eyes. This printed version fixed those issues and was used to host a meeting with the designer, Krista Lablue and Wendy from GreenMan. The stone samples on the ground helped us choose the palette for the final mosaic. The whole Hammerhead team took part in this meeting, which I think helped us move forward smoothly with the process; everyone had input in the stone choices and had a good understanding of the customer’s vision.

Creating the malachite eyes for the GreenMan Brewery mosaic.

Creating the malachite eyes for the GreenMan Brewery mosaic.

I ended up making the eyes twice. The first time became a test of the concept, which worked! But because the malachite was so costly I only bought enough to make one. I bought more and made the second eye, but there were clear differences in the color and look. I took them apart and rebuilt them mixing the stone randomly and got the look I wanted. The eyes are the only place where we used a more traditional mosaic style, making tiny tesserae. I like the effect though, it is evocative of ancient mosaics, populated with characters like Dionysus and Bacchus.

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Here’s a close up of the eye installed.

We built the GreenMan Brewery mosaic at the shop first, right on top of the Labyrinth!

We built the GreenMan Brewery mosaic at the shop first, right on top of the Labyrinth!

We cut and laid out the mosaic at the workshop, detailing the fits as best we could, prior to installation. Space was limited, so we had to build the GreenMan right over the top of the Labyrinth. The green insulation foam guided the fitting of the pieces, all of which had been cut from templates. It proved useful on the installation too…

We used foam insulation as a template and setting guide at the start of the GreenMan Brewery mosaic.

We used foam insulation as a template and setting guide at the start of the GreenMan Brewery mosaic.

Installation began with the eyes, as they needed to be level and centered on the wall. The green foam was perfect for supporting the mosaic pieces on the wall while they cured.

The GreenMan mosaic stares out through the scaffolding as we near the finish line.

The GreenMan mosaic stares out through the scaffolding as we near the finish line.

Even through all the clutter, it was amazing to watch the GreenMan’s towering visage appear on the wall.

The GreenMan mosaic is 20' tall and 16' wide. The face really fills the space.

The GreenMan mosaic is 20′ tall and 16′ wide. The face really fills the space.

The finished mosaic is twenty feet tall and sixteen feet wide. It is opposite the main entrance of the brewery’s new downtown location. It’s the first thing you see coming in the front door. It’s kind of imposing!

A detail of the leaves in the GreenMan mosaic showing several of the native stones we used.

A detail of the leaves in the GreenMan mosaic showing several of the native stones we used.

The face is made of marble from Tennessee. The leaves that surround the GreenMan’s face is mostly native North Carolina stone, though we used a fair amount of slate reclaimed from an old house in Asheville. I’m not sure it’s source. The eyebrows are serpentine. Again, I’m not sure where it comes from, but there’s some of the same stone on older buildings in downtown Asheville, making me think it’s at least regional. The background surround is sandstone from Tennessee.

A close up of the GreenMan mosaic face.

A close up of the GreenMan mosaic face.

Bluestone Patio

A drystone patio of Pennsylvania bluestone and full-color by Asheville masonry company Hammerhead Stoneworks

A drystone patio of Pennsylvania bluestone and full-color by Asheville masonry company Hammerhead Stoneworks


Gary and I built this small patio a few years ago. It’s dry laid over gravel so that it will last longer and drain better than a mortared or concrete slab. The stone is a Pennsylvania mix, comprised of bluestone and full-color, which runs green and brown. A handful of locally sourced mini boulders are included to create visual interest and accent points along the edges. A small, inexpensive project, it really changed the space and made the entry more welcoming.

A dry laid patio of bluestone by Asheville stone masons Hammerhead Stoneworks

A dry laid patio of bluestone by Asheville stone masons Hammerhead Stoneworks

The Stone of the Green Man Mosaic

Close up of natural stone mosaic mural of Green Man

Close up of natural stone mosaic mural of Green Man

The Green Man is made exclusively of natural stone, much of it sourced regionally. There are certain stones we used that are echoes of other aspects of Asheville’s rich architectural history.

The skin tones of the Green Man are a type of marble that comes from Tennessee. I chose it because of its color and grain. The black lines that run through it give his skin texture and depth, appropriate for an ancient woodland spirit. Inside the Grove Arcade, a famous shopping destination in downtown Asheville, the walls are clad with the same stone.

The eyebrows are made of a green stone, that I believe is serpentine. Sometimes it’s hard to be sure about the what and where of a stone because I accumulate so much material. I definitely hoard stone and that makes it hard to recall all the details. I believe the serpentine to be from Vermont. There are several older buildings throughout downtown that have some measure of exterior cladding that uses the same or similar materials. Kilwin’s Chocolates on Battery Park springs to mind, but there are others as well. It’s a brittle stone and many of the buildings have cracks in their facades.

The eye shadows are slate from an undisclosed source. I found it at a stone yard, recently removed from an old house. I bought it then with no plans for it. Did I mention that I hoard stone?

The nose shadow is a gray marble that allegedly was once quarried somewhere in North Carolina. According to the guy I bought it from- a stone sculptor who was downsizing his shop to retire- it is no longer quarried and impossible to get. Again, I found it and bought it because I thought it was cool. I have some stones on the yard that have been moved one hundred times waiting for the right thing to become. They are all beautiful and full of promise and potential.

The GreenMan Mosaic- Malachite Eyes

Detail of mosaic eye made of natural stones, including malachite

Detail of mosaic eye made of natural stones, including malachite

I like how GreenMan’s eyes evoke a more traditional style of mosaic, with smaller tesserae and grout used to fill the interspaces. The grout adds some depth and detail, as in real eyes. The irises are made of malachite. I had to buy display pieces from local crystal shops (there are oodles in Asheville) and slice them down and break them to create the tesserae. I ended up doing them twice. The first time around I made one eye from a single piece of malachite. Doing that I figured out that it would work, so I got another piece. But it was a slightly different hue. I don’t know if anyone else would have noticed the two eyes being slightly different, but I couldn’t let it ride. The source malachite is now well blended between the two eyes.

The whole mosaic is natural stone. Most of the materials are regionally sourced. Lots of stone from North Carolina and Tennessee, though Georgia, Pennsylvania, and New England are also represented. The malachite in the eyes is one of the few materials sourced from an exotic locale. I’m not sure exactly, but I believe it originated in Africa.

Dealing With Drainage On A Stone Patio

One way to address drainage concerns in a stone patio

One way to address drainage concerns in a stone patio


Usually it is fairly easy to ensure a stone patio drains properly. Pitch it away from the house- making sure that sub grade drains away from the house as well, and the job is done. But sometimes the patio area is captured by garden beds, sloping yards and other land forms that make it hard to get water away from the home. I have used this drain design a handful of times to provide water with a path away from the patio.
The cobblestone/trench drainage system works off water’s tendency to follow a surface. The cobbles provide rainwater runoff with numerous opportunities to flow down into the pipe below and out into the yard.
A couple of things that help to keep the system working properly.
• Make sure you have a reasonable amount of slope in the pipe. Two percent works well.
• Keep the drainage material (gravel and pipe) free of debris and soil. Water needs to percolate through. That’s why you wrap it in filter fabric and put a sock on the pipe. Use a good grade of filter fabric. The plasticy stuff big box hardware stores sell for under mulch beds is not up to the job.
• Use white PVC pipe, not the thin-wall, cheapo, black corrugated pipe contractors favor. It’s crap.
• Put the holes in the perforated pipe down. The trench fills with water from the bottom up. As soon as it reaches the height of the holes, it starts to drain into the pipe and flow out.
• Keep the daylight exit clear.

A cobblestone detail that covers a trench drain in a dry laid stone patio

A cobblestone detail that covers a trench drain in a dry laid stone patio

Here’s a cobblestone system installed. Done right, it can provide an intriguing visual design element to a patio. This particular system begins and ends with grinding wheels. In this case the patio and cobble stones are sandstone from Tennessee. Cobbles are not necessary, though they do provide increased opportunities for the water to perc into the drain system.

I have installed similar systems at the edge of patios where grass or mulch beds have created puddles or soggy soil. The one pictured is in the center of a patio that is stuck between the house and a steady rising slope.

A grinding wheel starts a cobblestone trench drain.

A grinding wheel starts a cobblestone trench drain.

Palm Leaf Stone Mosaic

A natural stone mosaic of a palm leaf.

A natural stone mosaic of a palm leaf.

This natural stone mosaic of a palm leaf is made of sandstones from Tennessee and Pennsylvania. The design is drawn from architectural details inside the First Baptist Church of Asheville. These stone palm leaves- there will be six- will be mounted into the brick wall that surrounds the Memorial Garden.

Balancing Stone Benches

A balancing stone bench

A balancing stone bench by Hammerhead Stoneworks in Asheville North Carolina.


River pebbles support large sandstone slabs to create sturdy stone benches. A hidden steel armature supports the slab, making it as solid as our other stone benches. These two benches adorn the frontyard of one of our favorite Asheville clients.

Balancing stone bench

A balancing stone bench by Hammerhead Stoneworks in Asheville North Carolina.

Memorial Stone Bench Becomes a DIY Family Project

Hammerhead Stoneworks creates a memorial stone bench in collaboration with a client.

Memorial Stone Bench

The Murphy family contacted Hammerhead Stoneworks to help them create a memorial stone bench for J.P. who was taken too young. His family had relocated and missed being able to visit his gravestone. The creation of an appropriate memorial is built on communication and trust. The family had found Hammerhead via the web and we spent a lot of time on the phone and e-mailing. We didn’t meet in person until the day they picked up the bench! The extra time we spent going back and forth made all the difference.

We worked together to find the right bench stone and memorial design. I found a slab that I loved and bought. When I got it to the shop and started making minor adjustments, I noticed a hairline crack that had gone unnoticed at the stone yard. This is where the communication and trust built paid off. I sent some pics of the fracture to the family and explained the reason of the delay. I had worried that they might be frustrated with the delay, but in reality they appreciated that I paid that kind of attention to the project. And when I found the next stone, it was a beauty!
Martin Monuments provided the engraving. They are my go-to for sandblasting and are the best. They are unique in their ability to work with natural stone. Most monument places really only seem comfortable working with polished and very flat surfaces. Jeff and Ben Martin are a true asset to Hammerhead.

A Memorial Stone Bench Kit

This was our first bench kit. Typically, we prepare the bench at our shop and then bring it to the site for installation. In order to save the family some money, we got the bench ready and the family took it home and installed it themselves. Installing a five hundred pound bench slab isn’t for everyone, but the Murphy family did an excellent job. We provided a couple of pages of instructions and they did the rest. It certainly helped that the family is in construction itself.

A memorial stone bench slab of Tennessee sandstone

A memorial stone bench slab of Tennessee sandstone