The Grindstone Transition

stone transition from driveway to path

Cobblestones, a grindstone and a large sun ray design cut from a single slab of flagstone combine to create a transition at our latest project in Asheville, North Carolina.

We have been installing a cobblestone driveway that ends at a path that leads to the front door and formal entrance of this magnificent stone house. I cut a large sun ray design from a single slab of flagstone. The homeowner found the grindstone at an antique shop years ago. The cobbles are from Tennessee and have been tumbled, to soften the edges and give them a time worn look. This project in the Haw Creek neighborhood in Asheville, where we worked last fall, using mill stones and cobbles as design elements to complete a drainage system on the back patio.

antique mill stone set in patio

Drystone patio with millstone inset

Planets In Orbit

A celestial planetary pattern immediately surrounds the ceremonial fire pit. It's made of cut bluestone and salvaged granite.

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.

A Stone Fire Pit That Saves Patio Space

Invisible fire pit in use

Invisible fire pit in use


Hammerhead Stoneworks offers a stone fire pit design solution for small patio spaces. This past spring I built what I call an Invisible Fire Pit. This is a design solution for a small patio area. A typical stone fire pit can take up a great deal of space. In a small area, this can be problematic, as it limits the amount of outdoor furniture one can use, or make it hard to entertain in the space at times when a fire isn’t desired. The Invisible Fire Pit is built down into the ground, but has a stone cover, so that when not in use, it really isn’t noticed. You can walk right over it with no indication that the space beneath your feet is hollow. Of course, this raises the issue of how to access the fire pit. I had my blacksmith friend Lynda Metcalfe make wrought iron handles. These are drilled through the stone and rest in a small groove I cut into the top of the stone. With the handles recessed in this way, there’s no trip hazard. The stone is still heavy, so it’s best to lift it with a friend! Last weekend the client had us over and my boys roasted marshmallows over the fire with his daughter. It was a great fun and the fire pit will get plenty of use in the coming months, as the nights cool off so perfectly.

Lid for the invisible fire pit

Lid for the invisible fire pit

Invisible fire pit cover

Invisible fire pit cover

Recessed handles for the invisible fire pit

Recessed handles for the invisible fire pit

Lid of the invisible fire pit

Lid of the invisible fire pit

Contact Hammerhead Stoneworks for all you patio and fire pit design and construction needs.

Invisible Fire Pit

Invisible Fire Pit

Invisible fire pit

Invisible fire pit cover

My current project is a flagstone patio with a fire pit. The flagstone is laid dry over crushed stone. Because of the slope of the yard, I built a short retaining wall at the far edge, to support the patio. Two slabs steps provide access to the yard. The sandstone I’m using is from Tennessee and has some lovely color tones to it.

The fire pit is the fun feature. Because of the limited space, I designed the fire pit to be invisible when not in use. A slab of stone serves as a lid. In the images below you can see the fire pit with the lid on and off. I will install recessed handles that will help the homeowner to remove the lid whenever he chooses. The handles will be flush with the top of the stone when not in use and will be the only indication of the fire pit. There’s still a lot to be done before this is full realized. More pics to come!

hidden fire pit

The lid of this hidden fire pit in patio mode. Note the handles set into the stone.

 

Invisible fire pit handles

Invisible fire pit handles

 

Invisible fire pit

An invisible fire pit in use, roasting marshmallows!

Hooper’s Creek Flagstone Patio


Hooper’s Creek is quarried in Fletcher, North Carolina- the nearest source of workable building stone to Asheville. It is a type of granitic gneiss, a metamorphic stone that is extremely hard and dense. It has a great texture and it sounds like glass when you hit it with a hammer.

These images show a patio made almost exclusively of Hooper’s Creek. And some pebbles of course. The grain of Hooper’s Creek gives it the sharper angles and straighter lines than the sandstones often used for flagging.

 

At the Home Show 2012

Stonework at the Home Show

Since I founded Hammerhead Stoneworks in 2009, I have been showing my stonework and materials at the Western North Carolina Home and Garden Show at the Civic Center in downtown Asheville, NC. I have shown stone benches and some art pieces. The last couple of years I have shown flagstone patios, including a koi-inspired patio design. Flagstone sections like this are much easier than stone walls to build at my shop and then bring in and install quickly.


This year’s Home Show happened a couple of weekends ago. I drew this sketch of my planned design over the winter and then went to work on it, as time allowed. The plan worked out well, the only major difference being that I had intended a metal table, but built a wooden one myself.


The special stone art piece for this show was “The Sultan”, a mosaic made of highly polished granite and marble scraps and Pennsylvania bluestone with a natural finish. It’s a relatively small piece, at about 11 inches by 17 inches, but it suggests to me the direction I want to take my work.

The Hiker: A Memorial for John LedBetter

The Hiker: Memorial Mosaic

The Hiker: Memorial Mosaic

John Winslow LedBetter was a beloved husband, father, doctor and Scoutmaster. He passed away last March and is 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.

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 design.

The Hiker: detail

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 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.

 

The Hiker: detail

The Hiker: detail

The construction process has gone slowly, mostly because of some gravity testing I did with a very large stone and my finger. Gravity still works; finger still recovering. I cut John’s figure from scraps of a countertop material called Absolute Black. The sunset is sandstone from Tennessee. The mountains, now underway, are Pennsylvania bluestone.

I hope to begin installation this week. More images to come.