Memorial Benches

Memorial Benches

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.

memorial benches

“Cold Bench Makers” Photo Credit: Anthony of Carolina Memorial Sanctuary

Memorial Benches

Finished Bench in the Memorial Sanctuary Photo Credit: Jonathan Frederick

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

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

Stone Memorial Mosaic

The Hiker: Done!

The Hiker Memorial

The Stone Memorial Story

This artistic stone memorial mosaic is created of natural stone. It rests over the grave of John Ledbetter in Asheville’s historic Riverside Cemetery.

John Winslow LedBetter was a beloved husband, father, doctor and Scoutmaster. He passed away in March 2011 and is dearly missed by family and friends. Last summer his widow Gwenda approached me about creating a memorial to him. The original idea was for a cairn, as a symbol of John’s endless love for the mountains. The idea resonated but presented challenges at the cemetery, where a single boulder looms over a neighboring gravesite. With the vertical space already claimed, we opted to paint on a horizontal canvas.

Designing the Stone Memorial

The Hiker: Source design

The Hiker: Source design

During the first conversation I had with Gwenda about the project, she gave me a simple card that was shared with everyone at John’s funeral. She noted with some pride that the sketch was a logo that John had drawn for his Scout troop. The iconic hiker image became the starting point of my stone memorial mosaic design.

Stone Memorial Mosaic

The Hiker: detail

The gravesite, in the historic Riverside Cemetery in the Montford section of Asheville, is long and lean, at 4′ by 10′. This had a significant impact on how I drew the stone memorial design. The hiker rests briefly, taking in the sun setting over the Blue Ridge Mountains. The original artwork has an everyman silhouette, which I have replaced with John’s profile, drawn from pictures his family provided.

Creating the Stone Memorial

I use full sized templates to accurately cut pieces for the stone memorial. In this image I am preparing to cut Absolute Black granite for hiker’s feet.

 

I use a variety of different abrasive tools to clean up the edges of my stones and hone the shapes of the mosaic stones.

I pre-assembled the memorial mosaic as I cut each stone. This allowed me to get the ideal fits between stones.

Installing the Stone Memorial

Setting the memorial edging

Setting the memorial edging

The first step of installing the stone memorial was to set the edging. Here, my helper Gary digs trenches. We bedded the stones in cement and held them in place with wooden jigs while they cured. In the background you can see the stone bench we built.

Stone Memorial Mosaic

Memorial halfway installed at gravesite

Piece by piece I laid the stone into the edging. I used gravel as my base to promote drainage and ensure a long, long life for the memorial mosaic.

The Stone Memorial Mosaic

Stone Memorial Mosaic

Memorial bench at gravesite

 

 

The mosaic laid out and ready for transport.

stone memorial mosaic

I would be honored to work with you to create a stone memorial mosaic to tell the story and celebrate the life of your beloved. Please call me at (828) 337-7582 or e-mail me.