Ironwoods Stone Entry Sign: Done and Dusted

Stone entry sign

Finished product

Earlier this week, blacksmith Lynda Metcalfe and I drove to Chapel Hill to put the finishing touches on our collaboration, the Ironwoods stone entry sign. It was satisfying to see this project through; discussions with the homeowner’s association had started a year ago November. The time invested was well spent. This sign is a work of art.

Stone entry sign

The sign sits on an island and is visible to traffic in both directions. Each side of the sign has its own flow of vines and is its own piece.

Stone entry sign

Lynda’s work has great depth. The letters are raised from the back panel and vines wind their way behind the letters, poking through here and there.

In this image from Lynda’s shop, you can see how she lined up the lettering on each side so that one set of fasteners reached through to catch the word Ironwoods running in both directions. Lynda’s primary focus in architectural metalwork; it was great to work with another artisan with such a strong construction ethos. We both aspired to create something strong and beautiful. Craftsmanship should be more than pretty.
(photo by Lynda Metcalfe)

All in all, the experience of working at Ironwoods was unlike any other I’ve ever had in my career. They know how to treat craftspeople. Concerned neighbors brought out orange cones to protect us from distracted drivers. Virginia made me soup. A kindly stranger delivered me hot chocolate (with whipped cream!) on a cold day. Ethan and Logan supplied me with marbles, since I forgot my own back home. I am sincerely grateful for the kindness and enthusiasm shown for the process and the finished product. It is a great joy to create work for people who appreciate it.

Special thanks are owed to Matthew Feldt who saw this project through from a seed of an idea to a fully grown vine. He navigated the design process with grace, championed the project from start to finish and lent his strong back, his photographic eye and even his garage to the effort. The sign doesn’t happen without Matthew. Thank you.

All of the photographs in this blog posting, unless otherwise noted, are by Matthew Feldt.

Ironwoods: Sign underway

My current project has me journeying to Chapel Hill to build a entry sign for the Ironwoods neighborhood. Two years ago I built a memorial bench in this same neighborhood for Grandpa Tony. I am delighted that they invited me back to complete this project, a collaboration between myself and blacksmith & artist Lynda Metcalfe. I met Lynda during the Handmade House in the Ramble project and have been hoping to find a way to work with her ever since. I am excited about the collaboration and how the final piece will mesh our two crafts and styles into a seamless design.


The boulders are anchored in concrete and the wall sits on a slab. The wall is structural stone, about fourteen inches thick. The big boulder (roughly 1500 pounds) has a perfect notch for my cell phone.

I used a sheet of foam core to create a template of the boulder’s shape to give Lynda a rough guide as to where her ironwork will tie into the stonework.

Thanks be to Matthew Feldt for the photographs and all his help with this project.