West Asheville Stonework

We did this small project in a West Asheville development called Craggy Park. There was a rather ramshackle looking set of steps and stepping stones in the front that we completely revamped.

An entry way in the Craggy Park neighborhood by Hammerhead Stoneworks

This was relatively new construction, so there really wasn’t anything going on around back. There was a deck but it didn’t really have any relationship to the area or to how someone might want to use the space. We worked with Mardi Letson of Gardens by Mardi to redesign the space. We added a small patio and this step that leads into the house. The patio is natural edges, mostly fitted with hammer and chisel. The step contains crisper edges, shaped with a grinder.

A cut stone design at the back entry of a West Asheville home

Beast Wall

I visited the Beat Wall project recently, showing it to a potential client. I like to take people to see old projects because I think it gives them a better sense of what their stone work will actually look and feel like. It’s a more complete presentation than just pictures in the portfolio or a visit to the stone yard, where all the materials are stacked up on pallets or bundled together in shrink wrap.

This is all laid dry and supports a parking area

If you really look at it, you can see the staircase in the face of Beast Wall, though it almost disappears into the same plane in this photo

Salvaged granite oak leaf set in landing at the top of the steps

Made of stone found on the site, which was clearly salvaged from old Asheville walls

Tennessee Fieldstone Wall

A small fieldstone wall in North Asheville

We just finished a small retaining wall in a North Asheville development. We used Tennessee fieldstone, to give it a more rustic and colorful aesthetic. This wall is laid dry, without any mortar or concrete employed.

Recent Stone North Asheville Stone Project

A drystone wall creates a planting terrace.

We knocked this little project out in two days. It’s a small retaining wall to create a planting bed. Stone steps- narrow at 24″ wide- lead up from a secondary driveway, to the front of the house. The wall is Hooper’s Creek. The steps are slabs of Tennessee sandstone, the gray variant, also known as Crab Orchard.

An Old Wall

A drystone wall in an Asheville Garden

We built this wall seven or eight years ago in North Asheville, for our friend and colleague, Mardi Letson of Gardens By Mardi. She is designing a new phase of gardens and construction in this yard, so I was there this past week to look at some new stone walls and pathways. I took a couple of pictures of the original work. Stonework is one of the few that get more beautiful as they age.

A weathered drystone wall

A drystone walkway with a heart-shaped stone inlaid.

Here’s a link to the walkway back when we built it.

Culvert Finished!

Last week we finished the stonework surrounding the culvert. It’s a bit more organized now than it was when we arrived. We used sandstone from Tennessee and stacked it all dry. The stonework is self-supporting. The stone does touch the culvert as it frames the sides, but the central cap is not actually resting on the plastic culvert (though I’m sure it could handle the weight!)

A drainage culvert surrounded by a drystone wall.

The homeowners asked us to improve the look of their culvert

Seating Wall

A formal cap for a seating wall

We used buff sandstone from Tennessee to create this formal cap. The wall is eighteen inches tall, ideal height for a bench. This wall is level with the deck and extends around to frame the back corner of the patio, where the yard is steepest. Above it all looms Beast Wall, a drystone retaining wall we completed last autumn. These clients have some of the most interesting things we’ve built in any residential setting: Beast Wall, the bridge, the culvert, a semi-circular staircase. It’s fun when the people and the project let us roam.

A small retaining wall with a seating cap frames this small patio below Beast Wall.

Stone Culvert

A process shot as we work to tidy up the stone work around this culvert

Our current project has no end to interesting details. Right now we are workin on this culvert. The homeowners property is split in half by a small stream. In order to access the back half, they had this culvert installed a few months ago. The crew that did the installation adorned the culvert with shot rock and left it. The homeowners asked us to tidy it up a bit. There are already several walls of Tennessee sandstone in place- including Beast Wall, built last fall- so this choice of stone seemed appropriate. It’s a really tricky place to work; we’ve laid a pallet across the stream as a platform to keep our feet dry.

The homeowners asked us to improve the look of their culvert

I’ll post finished pictures next week.

Niche Wall Rock Collection

We built this drystone retaining wall recently for an Asheville couple who have two kids, both of whom have a things for rocks. I can identify. As part of the design development, I proposed that we add a handful of niches to the walls, as a place to store a small rock collection- or anything else. The niches are about 4″ by 4″. We’ve done this before and they have been used for hot wheel cars, candles, and antique glass insulators from power lines that were wired to glow at night!

The wall itself is made of sandstone from Tennessee. A set of slab steps cuts through it allowing access to the upper yard. There’s a small patio below the wall, that I call the antechamber, as it serves as a hangout spot just below their expansive deck. Building niches is a pleasing departure from straight walling. And it was fun to find treasures to place in the niches. I am confident that this collection will be dismantled, amended, lost and replaced over time. That’s the point; I like that the wall has an interactive component.

Niche in a drystone wall, with elephant carved in slate

This niche has a small slate elephant I carved a long time ago. This guy has been looking lonely at the shop, so I’m happy he has a new home. The dolphin totem came from an old necklace. I guess this is the stone mammal niche.

Niche in a drystone wall, with banded onyx sphere

There’s another wall, not pictured, that runs near the driveway and connects up to the antechamber. This orb of banded onyx is in that wall, as a teaser of the larger collection visible above. I found this- and several other treasures, at Enter the Earth, a local rock and gem store here in Asheville.

Niche in a drystone wall, with heart of stone

Four stone hearts for the four members of the family.

Niche in a drystone wall, with fossilized coral

Petoskey stone- a fossilized coral from Lake Michigan. Great for bug eyes in mosaics!

Niche in a drystone wall, with cool fossils

More fossils. That’s a tiny sand dollar out front. I’m a big fan of the orthoceras fossils, the long tubular seashells in a black matrix. I just discovered that orthoceras means straight horn.

The last couple of pictures show the wall itself, with the niches visible. We just finished, so the land needs a minute to recover. Some ground cover and mulch and the rock collection will be complete!

A section of drystone wall, with niches for a rock collection

A sandstone wall, laid dry, with niches for a collection of cool stones

BIG Drystone Wall

We called this wall Fort Faulkner because of how much it resembled a castle battlement in shape and scale. It is a very tall, at least from the outside, where I took this picture. On the other side, it’s only eighteen inches above grade and surrounds lawn and a patio, acting as a seating wall. The lower section supports the yard and patio. To ensure proper structural integrity, the whole thing is built as a free-standing, double-sided wall. To be honest though, the lower inside sections- below the yard and patio- are ugly as heck. We knew it would be hidden so we didn’t fuss with the look of the faces. Still a few tons of work, forever hidden. The cap is mortared on to eliminate any movement when people sit or walk on it.

This tall wall is part a retaining and part a free standing seating wall