This is a small patio we built in front of a North Asheville home. It’s big enough for a couple of chairs and a small table, perfect for morning coffee. It’s in the front yard, but will be sheltered by plantings being done by our friends at BB Barns. The stepping stones lead from the street to the sidewalk, providing some continuity from parking to the front entrance of the home.
“The Village” is a mosaic patio we made for the Boys and Girls Club of Henderson County. I had occasion to visit it recently after it was vandalized. As it was explained to me, someone had been told there was money hidden inside it, and was taking it apart looking for treasure. There’s no gold in there, I promise. One piece was broken and several were disturbed, but I was able to patch it up okay.
It’s an uncomfortable feeling when my work is vandalized.
I recently visited an older project, I think from very early 2019. I recall it was crazy cold. The client let us hide out and warm up in their garage. He often made us tea. The project is located in an out-of-the-way corner of North Asheville, off Beaverdam Road, not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway. We built a drystone wall, mortared steps and a dry laid pathway. The wall and step risers are Hooper’s Creek stone. The step treads and pathway were made of Pennsylvania stone, the full range variant.
I used my real camera for this images, but I think I had it on some weird preset, because everything’s a bit fuzzy. Sorry!
I have posted about this project before.
While I was there, the neighborhood bears came through. Momma led the way. This cub sat lazily in the a street, and then flopped over onto his back. He was then tackled by his sibling and they wrestled in the middle of the road. Momma ignored them and kept on walking.
We just finished this patio in North Asheville, just off Windsor Road. The patio is made of Pennsylvania stone, including some of the more purple-ish color- a variant we’d never used before. A small wall- unseen in these pictures- of Hooper’s Creek holds up the outside edge of the patio, which overlooks a nearby golf course.
This stone walkway is made up of Hooper’s Creek, a granitic gneiss quarried in nearby Fletcher. The steps are a different material- slabs of gray sandstone from Tennessee. The section of the walkway closest the camera- below the step & boulders- doubles as a parking area. To ensure they would support the weight of a car without shifting, those paving pieces are five to six inches thick. Shaping and leveling pieces that big was a challenging undertaking.
We’ve had a run of smaller projects lately, including this patio in Arden. This was a former client who had moved and wanted a new patio. The stone is Tennessee sandstone, a rather variegated batch of it. You might see a couple of small steel eyelets tucked into the joints. The client likes to rig up inflatables for the holidays. The hooks are installed to help keep the decorations from blowing away!
It took a long time to fabricate, but the Asheville School medallion finally got finished and installed just before the Fourth of July. It is set in a patio of Pennsylvania stone. Initially that presented some challenges to me in choosing colors. I dark ring of granite surrounds the medallion providing some contrast. The granite is salvaged counter top material. I flip it over so the polished side faces down, which makes it less slippery and safer for walking. I used an ager/color enhancer to darken the stone. When we finish the project I will do some detail work to get the colors more consistent. It’s just so dusty right now.
The light gray surround is gray sandstone from Tennessee, often called Crab Orchard. It’s usually much darker, but I used the grinder to take off the top layer. The exposed grain is much lighter but still has traction for walking. That is a main concern for me when designing pieces like this; it’s a walking surface and can’t be too slick, especially since it will get wet on a rainy day. One little trick I used was to add cut line details, like the scrawled text on the book pages. By dragging the grinder across the surface I implied the written word- and I added texture for extra grip. I am hopeful that several hundred years from now someone will work tirelessly to translate my “text.” I’m curious to know what I was talking about.
The badge is made of Pennsylvania bluestone. The inverted V pattern is made of a marble that I believe comes from Georgia. It’s a material I get from my friends at Tennessee Marble. The braided cord, under the lamp at the top, is made of sandstone.
The medallion is the centerpiece of a large circular patio in the midst of a garden on the Asheville School campus. Designed by our friend Mardi Letson of Gardens by Mardi. She has deep ties to the school and this is a real labor of love for her. The patio itself is made of Pennsylvania stone laid dry in a bed of crushed gravel.
This is the cross inlay before it was mortared into place. The red granite is from Sweden. The little square of pink granite os from the chapel on the Asheville School campus. The day I was there to first see the site they showed me the chapel, a sturdy structure of pink and gray granite. As it happened, there was a crew there working on the heating and cooling system. They had used a coring drill to put some holes in the wall of the chapel to run their piping. I was able to find a couple of the cores they had made, 3″ diameter cylinders of pink granite. Of course I snagged all I could find! I cut a small chip off and polished it to put into this inlay.
I love pictures of mosaics in the back of my truck.
The family developed the concept. Their daughters, ages 4 and 8 led the way. The concepts were Kindness, Honesty, Intention, and Explore. They gave me some drawings and I revised them into forms that I thought could work in stone. Small mosaics can become illegible- and hard to execute- if there’s too much going on. They gave me good ideas and I think the translation works well.
These are the four designs while I was working on them; they’re not grouted in this picture. I like the bold colors and simple graphic compositions.
This was the design I had the most concerns about going in. It’s their vision of Intention; the heartwood of a tree. I wasn’t sure if it would read, particularly in comparison to the very clear images of things like a heart or the planet Earth. But I love the way the colors work together. The green slate is smooth but not shiny. The tree bark is sandstone from Tennessee, a material we use all the time for patios and walls. I forget the name of the stone I used for the wood grain. It’s remarkably beautiful though, even if I could not find a concentric ring pattern to more closely echo the heartwood. The stone itself is super thin; it is adhered onto ceramic tile.
We don’t really do brick work at Hammerhead, but sometimes we will to help out a friend. Last fall, our good friend Doug asked us to build him a walkway with a large supply of bricks he had salvaged over the years.
Reclaimed bricks can be challenging to set because they vary greatly in size. Even ones from the same company can be different shapes. Some aren’t even proper rectangles, but have a weird bend in them. And they are always different thicknesses. That variation is part of their charm, but requires some strategizing to get things to set right.
One thing we did here was sort the bricks into matching pairs, to make the the duos that alternate to create the pattern. We also put in several lateral lines to break up the pattern, which effectively resets the build every few feet. It’s easier to fudge the math in a pattern that’s made up of 60 bricks than a pattern of 600. The small errors don’t magnify too quickly. And by using this pattern, we were able to highlight a handful of very cool bricks that Doug had found and saved. Back before everything was all the same and on sale at a big box hardware store, brick-making companies had their own designs and many would have their names on the bricks. For the hardcore brickologist, there’s a huge amount of history in those impressions. My favorite says COMMUNITY. That one is at the street end of the walkway.
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.
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.