The Treehouse Orchestra

The next mosaic for the public art project in Norfolk, Virginia is officially underway. This young fellow is jumping up to strike the triangle. I am hoping that we can actually put a triangle (or more?!) into the mosaic so the kids at the school can make it ring. That’ll take some figuring. The theme of this one is music. There are nine kids playing a variety of instruments.

The first figure in our latest mosaic for Norfolk.

The Patio Caddy

Jonathan used to rig up rebar with zip ties to make a patio caddy to organize his tools. So we had our welder friends Jerry and Bodie make us one.

A tool rack for patio making

Pet Rocks

A ‘pet rock’ appears in a stone wall.

A previous client notified me recently that new creatures had started appearing in his stone wall. I am reminded of a fad from the 70’s (maybe) of pet rocks, which were smoothed beach stones painted with smiling faces. Painted and photographed by Tobias Van Buren.

Drystone Wall, Frog Water Feature

Drystone wall with concrete frog for water feature


We’ve just finished a small bit of drystone wall for our friend Mardi Letson, of Gardens By Mardi. The pre-cast concrete frog has a tube running through it and will someday soon be fitted with a water pump. The goal is that the frog will spout water into a vessel of some kind at the base of the wall. We have a piece of conduit running through the back there, to protect the water pipe from the shard edges of the stone and back fill.

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.

North Asheville Stone Pathways

A front walkway of natural stone in North Asheville


I was in the neighborhood and so got to visit this project from earlier this year. We got to do two different kinds of stone paths: a formal flagstone walkway and an informal stepping stone path. The formal stone pathway leads from the sidewalk to the front door. I prefer the more orderly look in these situations. I feel that the main entrance- the way the guests enter the home- should be more formal and approachable. It is wide and flat and really requires no thought to navigate.

An informal garden walkway of stepping stones


The step stone path on the other hand, winds through the side yard, a garden area. The owners called it the dog entrance, since they primarily used it when they were returning from walking their dogs through the neighborhood. They are really the only people who use it. In this context, I prefer the less formal look. If feels like a garden path, more rustic and private. While these two paths are near each other, it’s clear to anyone approaching which is the right path to follow to enter the house. Or course there are other clues- like hey, there’s a door- but I like that the stonework reinforces that information.

East Asheville Patio Project

A drystone patio surface of Tennessee sandstone installed by Hammerhead Stoneworks.

We recently built this patio at a home in East Asheville, off Riceville Road. There was a step down from the deck onto bare earth area. We built a small retaining wall to hold up the patio, so that it could be flush with the deck.

A drystone patio surface of Tennessee sandstone installed by Hammerhead Stoneworks.


We used Tennessee sandstone for the patio surface. Every batch is different from the last, but this color palette is particularly pleasing to me. I just like the variation and the muted tones.

Two little pond liners and a stone ‘bridge’ make a bigger pond

A drystone patio surface of Tennessee sandstone and a small pond installed by Hammerhead Stoneworks.


The homeowners had a small pond in the backyard. They maintain the pond mostly for wildlife: amphibians that live and breed there as well as creatures that bathe or water there. We worked with the homeowners to expand the pond and integrate it into the overall design. The homeowner bought a second liner and dug it in next to the first. They are positioned and covered with the bridge stone to give the impression that it’s a single body of water, but really there are two little ponds there- just the usual pond liners you can buy at a Lowe’s. Decorative gravel covers the rest of the area, with river rocks around the ponds to keep the gravel from tumbling in. It was a fairly cheap and effective way to get the desired results.

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.