Hand Lettered Pet Memorial

A hand lettered stone memorial for a pet on Pennsylvania bluestone

Velcro was the beloved black lab of my friend and crew mate Jonathan. Velcro got sick and died late last year. I made this stone for him. The lettering is carved into Pennsylvania bluestone. The surround is Tennessee sandstone. The bluestone carved nicely, but it has a natural finish. It addition to being bumpy, there’s a ridge along the stone where it bumps out 1/8″. That doesn’t sound like much, but it effected the edge of my carved lines. A perfectly flat stone will produce a cleaner line. But this has a rustic character befitting the stone and the site. Kristin grew the plants (zinnia, celosia, and cosmo.)

The Last Word

I’ve been chipping away at this for weeks now, and finally reached the last word! Lame stone pun fully intended…

I have plenty of fussing to do to tidy up the inscription, particularly the first few words I did; I have gotten a little bit better along the way. The last element will be a pair of Jerusalem crosses that separate the phrase from itself. ‘Just as I have loved you, you should also love one another’ appears twice around the outside of the circle.

This is the template I used, all laid out. It’s eleven feet long. All that green tape was to keep it in position; I did it in small sections and wanted to keep the whole template intact until the end.

The whole inscription

And Another Thing…

I’m working on the lettering for the communal urn/ash vault. I have it set up in a garage bay at the shop with a photo shoot style light on it, which is essential. Progress is slow. I’m improving but have about 9,960 hours to go before I really get it.

Stone Walkway To North Asheville Home

We recently completed this small project with Mardi Letson of Gardens By Mardi. A sandstone walkway leads to a river rock house in a lovely North Asheville neighborhood. The stone is from Tennessee. The house numbers are engraved into a piece of stone set close to the sidewalk, a nice craft accent to the overall project. Though barely visible in this image, we did some pebbling in a few of the joints, where we use small, smoothed river stones laid on edge in the spaces between flagstone pieces. They offer a pleasing contrast in texture. In this case they also echo the river rock used to build the home almost a hundred years ago.

House numbers are engraved into this stone walkway leading to a river rock house in North Asheville

I don’t get a lot of chances to carve in stone. This was a fun little project, giving me a chance to dust off my sharp lettering chisels. My hand included for scale.

Carved letters in a piece of 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.

Stone Art: Letter carving

I have been playing with letter carving. This time I tried working on a naturally textured surface, a scrap of sandstone left over from a flagging project. I bought a pair of reading glasses today, to keep the dust out of my eyes and to help me really see, in riveting detail, the letters as I work them.