This is a wall and fire pit project from a couple of years ago. We had done a front walkway for this client. He enjoyed the experience so much, he came to work for Hammerhead. Newly retired, he wanted something to keep him busy and learning. We can do that! While he was in our employ, we collaborated on this backyard project at his house.
I don’t think you can discern from the pictures, but this patio is elliptical. If I recall, it’s 12 feet from the entrance to the fire pit, and 15 feet long. It’s a tricky business laying out an ellipse on this scale. It involved multiple pivot points and just the right sized loop of string. I like the elliptical shape, though it gave us some challenges as to how to lay out the openings in the wall. The walls at the far ends create unusual angles at the entries. Not terrible, just a little weird.
A drystone wall surrounds an elliptical patio and frames a low fire pit/place.
The concept was at the fire pit was set into the wall, as a way of preserving patio space. I like how the seating cap of the wall becomes the cap of the fire pit. The wall is laid dry, though there is a bead of mortar under the capstones. Years ago I bought that big chunk of sandstone which we used as the hearth. I do that sometimes, buy some thing I think it’s cool not knowing where it will go. Those things always find a home.
A low fire pit set into a drystone wall
A fire pit set into a stone wall.
We build the wall and the fire pit. The homeowner/coworker did the patio himself. I think he did a great job!
We are just finishing up this large backyard transformation. We’ve been collaborating with BB Barns on this project. All of the work is laid dry, except there is mortar utilized in the fire pit, to stabilize the refractory brick and to ensure the cap does not move.
There’s at least 30 tons of Tennessee sandstone used in the walls flagstone patio’s in paths and steps. More pictures to come when BB Barns has completed planting and mulching around all of the new stonework.
Hammerhead completed the Sacred Circle Fire Pit in January of 2014 for clients hoping to use the space for ceremonial gatherings. The photo below is of the fire pit after completion from down here on solid ground.
And here is a photo of the completed fire pit from Google Maps from up above.
This is the Google Maps photo from before the project was completed. Note theÂ 7 small squares below the site. Those are pallets of stone we brought down to build with.
And back on the ground.
Sacred Fire Circle in Alexander, NC
Sacred Fire Circle
Hammerhead completed the fire circle in January of 2014 for clients hoping to use the space for ceremonial gatherings.
Rays of black granite shoot out from the central fire ring in the cardinal directions until they meet the four large site boulders. Each site boulder frames one side of the four semicircular stone benches that border the circle. Reclaimed granite of various colors and patterns give each planet orbiting around the fire ring its own distinct look.
Click here for the process of creating this unique project, and click the image above for a huge view!
The planets in orbit around the fire circle
We just finished transforming this Black Mountain backyard from a ragged old deck with drainage issues into a dynamic living space with a fire table. Over the course of the last year we have been using larger and larger slabs of flagstone, but keeping our very tight tolerances for the joints. The results are more like a floor in terms of level and walking comfort than the typical concept of a patio, which is often as much filler as stone. All of the work here is drystone, except for the fire table, which has some refractory mortar in the fire brick for stability. I’ll post about that when I have some good images of it in use.
Getting started on transforming this backyard in Black Mountain.
A panorama from above the Black Mountain patio, from above
We transformed this Black Mountain backyard with a patio and fire pit. Many of the flagstones are huge and all the work is laid dry.
This crib wall supports a large patio in Black Mountain.
A pebble mounted into the face of a small boulder.
Lacey the lab puppy is concerned with my high vantage point as I take this panorama of a recently built patio and fire pit.
We recently completed this large patio and fire pit project in Atlanta. We built the whole patio here in Asheville and then created a detailed map of how the stones went together, before loading it on pallets and freighting it to the job site. It took us two and a half days to fix a slack grading job, reassemble the patio and build the fire pit. They were long days of hard work and great fun. The hosting house had a pool table, which was a nice bonus. This was very much an experiment, but I feel like it worked so well and we learned so much, that we can start offering our particular styles of flagstone patios to areas outside of Asheville.
Stacked wall fire pit with boulders
A backyard fire pit with walls stacked around boulders.
Building the fire pit
A thick stone lid covers an invisible fire pit installed in a drystone patio.
We’re creating an outdoor space for a family in Montford. Part of the design is an invisible fire pit, a technique we developed as a way to save patio space. We use fire brick to create the place to burn below grade. We don’t go too deep, so the fire is able to draw air from above. If it was too deep the fire would starve for oxygen. The lid is quite thick and heavy enough that we decided to cut it into three pieces, making it much more manageable. 99% of the time, it’s just a patio, but when you want to have a fire, you open the lid (handles provided) and enjoy the ambiance.
Invisible fire pit installed in patio, with the cover off.
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.
A celestial planetary pattern immediately surrounds the ceremonial fire pit. It’s made of cut bluestone and salvaged granite.
Cut bluestone surrounds the fire pit. Rays of Absolute Black granite stretch from the cardinal boulders to the fire pit. Nine planets (I included Pluto!) are made from salvaged granite.
Flagstone surrounds the North Boulder. A ray of Absolute Black Granite connects the boulder to the fire ring.
We are installing rays of black granite that connect the fire pit to the four boulders. We’re cutting down slabs of a counter top material called Absolute Black. It has a leathered finish, so that it’s not slick when it gets wet. The rays are a design feature that focuses energy and attention of the center as well as create a path from the entryways- which are immediately next to the boulders- to the fire pit itself. I am cutting each one to marry to the boulder cleanly. It’s a fun and dusty pursuit. The rays run right up to the fire pit, but are held back a quarter inch, to allow the metal ring to expand when in use. I’m not even sure that’s a risk considering how thick the metal is, but better safe than sorry!
A drystone culvert allows water to escape the circular patio.
There are two culverts like this built into each section of wall. If the boulders are located at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, the culverts are placed to fill out the clock’s face. They allow surface run off to escape the central patio area during a gullywasher. Plus, I think they look super cool!
A view of the fire pit, granite ray and flagstone.
The outer path is three feet across. In this image you can see the suggestion of the outer path, two rays and the patio taking shape. Progress has slowed a bit with the holidays and some cold, cold weather. A design for the center is well underway and I’ll be buying some capstone material soon, so we’ll be ready to make hay when the sun shines.