We recently designed and installed 2 memorial benches. Similar to some of Hammerhead’s previous memorial projects, these benches were created to commemorate the lives of loved ones.
This first bench was commissioned in memory of a Labradoodle named Ginger. We had the sandblasting engraved by our good friends at Martin Monuments.
The second of the memorial benches was installed beside a lovely stream at Carolina Memorial Sanctuary in Mills River, NC, just outside of Asheville. Carolina Memorial Sanctuary is a cemetery that is centered around conservation and sustainability. The Sanctuary offers natural burials for humans, pets, and cremated remains for a fraction of the cost of today’s typical burials.
“Cold Bench Makers” Photo Credit: Anthony of Carolina Memorial Sanctuary
Finished Bench in the Memorial Sanctuary Photo Credit: Jonathan Frederick
At Hammerhead, we enjoy the challenge of creating new designs for stone benches. We seek a balance between bombproof structure and graceful aesthetics, and we like our benches to be whimsical. The labyrinth project we competed for First Baptist Church of Asheville is comprised of four of our bench designs, including our modern stack bench.
The columbarium area of the Memorial Garden at First Baptist Church of Asheville contains four modern stack benches. The benches have a very clean, modern aesthetic. The design committee requested something more formal while not overtly like a highly polished memorial bench found in a graveyard.
Materials Used for the Modern Stack Bench
A rough hewn granite block anchors the bench to the concrete. Pennsylvania Bluestone comprises the seats, topped with reclaimed black granite. The granite serves as a spacer, which creates a shadow that suggests that the big blue slab is floating over the granite.
All of the materials used for the benches figure heavily in the overall design of the garden. We wanted the benches to help unite the various elements of the design. The black granite used in the benches resembles the granite used for the columbarium vaults as the place where names will be engraved. This provides a unifying element with other areas of the Memorial Garden.
Modern Stack Bench at First Baptist Church of Asheville
The Floating Stone Bench
At Hammerhead, we enjoy the challenge of creating new designs for stone benches. We seek a balance between bombproof structure and graceful aesthetics. And we like them to be whimsical. The floating stone bench is one of four designs we created for the memorial garden at First Baptist Church of Asheville for, as we call it, the labyrinth project.
One of our favorite designs, the floating bench is truly one of a kind as we created specifically for the church. A steel armature levitates a slab of bluestone above a block of Tennessee sandstone.
A slab of bluestone appears to hover over a large chunk of sandstone in this floating bench.
The Boulder Bench
At Hammerhead, we enjoy the challenge of creating new designs for stone benches. We seek a balance between bombproof structure and graceful aesthetics, and we like them to be whimsical. We created four bench designs for the memorial garden at First Baptist Church of Asheville for the labyrinth project. The boulder bench is one of these designs.
There are four boulder benches spaced around the labyrinth at First Baptist Church of Asheville. The benches are drawn from Hammerhead’s traditional design of a boulder bench, which is a large slab of sandstone seated on top of a pair of funky sandstone boulders. At First Baptist Church of Asheville, we cut the tops of the benches to have the precise radius of the outside edge of the labyrinth in order to provide visual continuity with the radiating circles of the labyrinth.
One of four boulder benches at First Baptist Church of Asheville
Hammerhead Stoneworks designs and installs innovative natural stone benches.
Harmony Stone Bench
Stone benches are wonderful addition to outdoor spaces and a unique design opportunity. At Hammerhead, we enjoy the challenge of creating new designs for stone benches. We seek a balance between bombproof structure and graceful aesthetics. And we like them to be whimsical. The harmony stone bench is one of four designs we created for the memorial garden at First Baptist Church of Asheville for, as we call it, the labyrinth project. This is a favorite design of mine, because of how delicate they appear and how strong they truly are. There’s something a bit magical about that to me!
We created two of these harmony stone benches for the memorial garden, and both are made of river rock and a blue stone slab with a hidden steel armature supporting the overall structure. The waterworn pebbles and crisply cut top add an eclectic juxtaposition. These benches are adjacent to the water feature Hammerhead is currently constructing in the labyrinth. River pebbles echo the flowing water and river path that leads to the feature. The blue slab of the bench ties to the stream path that leads to the feature. One feels connected to the water and its movement in the space. The delicate balancing act is deceptive; these benches are super sturdy!
Harmony stone bench at First Baptist Church of Asheville by Hammerhead Stoneworks
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.
A balancing stone bench by Hammerhead Stoneworks in Asheville North Carolina.
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
In the mountains of western North Carolina, where Hammerhead Stoneworks is located, we often deal with awkward slopes. Gradual grades, like the one pictured here, are common. The best solution usually involves striking a balance of steps and landings. This walkway features several small stacks of slab steps with flagstone landings spaced throughout. It’s important to take the rhythm of walking into account. The rise and run of steps are an agreement between the builder and everyone who uses their steps. It should be predictable and within a ratio that we are familiar with. Stuttering steps- those awkward ones that are too short or too close together or weirdly spaced- drive my crazy. (A common thing here is the two inch step at the top of a run of stairs. WHY?!)
Of course, there are other variables as well. You want to steps to fall naturally into place along the slope. If your steps are too far ahead, then you have to do a lot building up with retaining walls to support the steps. Likewise, if you get too far into the slope, there’s a lot of digging needed and you may have to install some sort of edging to keep the soil and mulch off the path. Sometimes this can’t be avoided, but often, by taking the time to pay attention to those details in the design phase, you can have a stone path that has a natural rhythm, is safe and easy to walk and is strong and durable. Like this one in the pictures!
Drystone pathway with steps. Balancing bench in the background.
A view of the stone path and the mountains
Tennessee sandstone pathway with steps slabs and site boulders
A balancing stone bench. It’s sturdy!
We recently completed these two balancing benches for a regular client of ours. Both slabs are of Tennessee sandstone, though they have very different color profiles. River rocks of varying sizes comprise the bench supports. I know the concept works because every time I walk by them I think, “Those shouldn’t be standing!” They are very sturdy though, reinforced and supported by a hidden steel armature.
A stone bench by Asheville stone masons Hammerhead Stoneworks.
A balancing stone bench by Asheville stone masons Hammerhead Stoneworks.
The ceremonial stone circle fire pit seen from above.
We finished this huge ceremonial fire pit just as winter faded into spring. These panoramas show the fire pit at rest and in full use, during the dedication ceremony, where every inch of bench seating was filled. It was very moving series of ceremonies and prayers.
Click images to enlarge.
A panorama of the fire pit dedication ceremony.