Natural Stone MosaicÂ Yellow WakerobinÂ was commissioned as a Motherâ€™s Day gift for a family in Maryville, Tennessee. Named after the species of trillium featured on the piece, it now resides in a niche on a brick fireplace. A conversation with the Mom to be celebrated inspired the design. A heart survivor, she loves the mountains and is devoted to her three kids. The heart shaped leaves of the trillium, which grows wild in these mountains, seemed like a perfect match. And the white dove very much fits the familyâ€™s values and aspirations.
Dove and Trillium detail
I tried a new technique when I was creating the Trillium Mosaic. Once all the pieces were cut, I flipped them over and placed them on a reversed template. Since I take all of my pencil sketches into a digital space to create my patterns, itâ€™s very easy to reverse the design and have it printed as a mirror image. Working backwards or upside down like this is a very common technique for mosaic artists, but it was the first time that I’d ever tried it.
One immediate advantage is that you can see how well the pieces are actually cut and make quick adjustments. Once I had the fits as I liked them, I applied fiberglass mesh. I used a special epoxy that I trust with stone to adhere the mesh. In the picture you can see tons of little scraps resting on the fiberglass as it sets up. Many mosaic artists will take the piece in that form and bring it for installation. I felt like my pieces of stone were too heavy for that, so I applied it to the backer board right there on the table. The fiberglass mesh was to prevent the stones from moving while I set it.
Piecing together the dove
The images below show the two color options for the petals of the trillium. I sent these photos to the customer and they made the call between purple or yellow.
Trillium test with a purple stone option
Trillium test with the yellow stone option
Whoops! I mixed my thinset too wet and then got impatient. As a result some of it used through the joints (pictured below). When I flipped it over, it was well adhered but still green, so I was able to scrape the excess mortar out. It was my penance for impatience.
The mosaic with mortar
All grouted – the dove’s eye is a tiny black stone marble.
Yellow Wakerobin detail
Check out some other natural stone mosaics completed by Hammerhead Stoneworks:
Natural Stone Mosaic Birds of Every Feather: Fabrication Process
Natural stone mosaic completed for Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, Virginia.
This collection of images is from the fabrication process of natural stone mosaicÂ Birds of Every Feather,Â which was designed for Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, VA. It is the first in a series of six mosaics I will make for schools in this area as part of a public art commission.
American goldfinch, white-breasted nuthatch, American robin
American robin, red-bellied woodpecker, mourning dove
As with all of my mosaic work, I fabricated this at my shop before bringing it to the installation site. Making the birds was so much fun! The background, not so much. The eyes of the birds are either glass marbles or small pebbles. In order to save epoxy, I would do several eyes all at once, leading to this weird-looking photograph.
The little brown bird is the Carolina wren. While building this at the shop, a Carolina wren built a nest on one of the shop’s storage shelves.
Read more aboutÂ Birds of Every Featherhere and here.
This thimbleweed stone mosaic is a small part of a very large mosaic that I’m currently building for the Southside STEM Academy at Campostella in Norfolk, VA. It’s part of a public art project that entails designing and installing six natural stone mosaics in various elementary schools there over the course of the next couple of years.
The thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana) is a native flower to Virginia. The mosaic was crafted using white marble, green marble, scabos travertine (yellow inner), and ocean pebbles.
This praying mantis stone mosaic is a small part of a very large mosaic that I’m currently building for the Southside STEM Academy at Campostella in Norfolk, VA. It’s part of a public art project that entails designing and installing six natural stone mosaics in various elementary schools there over the course of the next couple of years.
The eyes of the praying mantis are a fossilized coral called Petoskey stone, while the mantis itself is primarily a native North Carolina stone. Each of these pieces is about 34″ in diameter.
This speckled crab claw stone mosaic is a small part of a very large mosaic that I’m currently building for the Southside STEM Academy at Campostella in Norfolk, VA. It’s part of a public art project that entails designing and installing six natural stone mosaics in various elementary schools there over the course of the next couple of years.
The claw itself is made mostly of various marbles from Tennessee.
The Great Blue Heron Garden Guardian is now installed. The body is made of blue Bahia tile, while the bill is yellow travertine. The legs are made of a marble from Tennessee. The heron is inlayed into a piece of scrap stone from a former project. Read about the stone inlay process of this piece here.
Garden Guardian in Place
Curved neck, head, crest, and bill detail
Close-up of Body and "Feathers"
Prepping for Installation – Photo Credit: Jonathan Frederick
The Great Blue Heron is one of a few Garden Guardian projects we have designed and installed. Explore some of our other Garden Guardian projectshere.
Call Marc at (828) 337-7582 or email him to have your own Garden Guardian commissioned.
These two pieces were created for clients in Atlanta, GA. “Coyote” is what I call a garden guardian. It is a freestanding garden sculpture set in concrete below grade. The coyote itself is made of a polished black marble that was inlaid into a slab of Tennessee sandstone. While labor-intensive to produce, the results are worth it.
The dendrite stone screen, or framed picture stone, features a beautiful dendrite pattern in a slab of 2′ by 3′. Despite their appearance, dendrites aren’t actually fossils of a fern or other plant but result from mineral intrusion into the stone.
We designed the frame and had a friend fabricate it for us. The frame secures the stone without requiring any drill holes or epoxy. For installation, the frame is bolted to a subterranean concrete slab.
Following up Hammerhead’s recent feature in the Slippery Rock Gazette, Asheville Lifestyle magazine’s September 2016 issue features our Green Man mosaic as well as other projects. We completed the Green Man Mosaic for Green Man Brewing in downtown Asheville, NC. The mosaic greets brewery visitors immediately upon entry to the building.
The article describes in detail the process of designing and creating the Green Man mosaic. It covers Marc’s attention to detail and quality, it elaborates on the local materials used for the project, and it gives an introduction to the full Hammerhead crew. The feature also includes a glimpse into one of Marc’s personal pieces entitled The Boy With Antlers (pictured below).
“The Boy With Antlers” is a natural stone mosaic
Read the full feature in Asheville Lifestyle magazine here.
In the mosaic workspace
Contributors to the Asheville Lifestyle Magazine Feature
We would like to extend our gratitude to Tom Rogers for authoring this piece as well as to David Dietrich, Emily Glaser, and Kristin Cozzolino for their photo contributions.
Asheville stone masons Hammerhead Stoneworks recently completed this water feature with a natural stone bench, paths, drystone walls and steps.
Dry Stone Paths & Steps
This dry stone pathway connects the homeowner’s driveway with their favorite hangout spot, on their back deck. A single slab of sandstone provides an easy step up to the deck. The regular shape of the slab lends an air of formality to the entrance, sometimes used by guests. This serves as a counterpoint to the more natural looking stones that make up the adjacent steps, walls, water feature and bench.
The bench is found at the bottom of the water feature. It is very organic, a natural slab with a patina of lichen. The area is fairly shady and so I am hopeful that the lichen will survive. Two rugged boulders were topped and anchored in concrete to provide the bench supports.
Water Feature Before and After
This pair of images shows how we transformed this unused space. The drystone retaining wall at the bottom raised the overall grade. This allowed us to hide drainage pipes running from the house’s many downspouts. We used heavy duty solid white PVC pipe to extend the drain pipes. Though more expensive, these pipes have never failed me. Everytime I have dug up a black corrugated drain pipe it is either collapsed, perforated or clogged. Or all three. Next spring, once the plants have been chosen and given time to establish themselves, this will be a lovely view.
Click on the image above for a larger view of the water view and overall design.
Coming soon: more pictures of the water feature itself.
This is a conceptual sketch of Salmon Falls, a mosaic water feature I’d like to build someday. Water sheets down into a recessed pool at the bottom, allowing people to approach and touch the stone. The stone will be a mixture of textures, rough quarried surfaces as well as honed and highly polished finishes. I imagine the salmon themselves to be sculpted in such a way that they are raised from the flat plane of the wall.
Really, this would work just as well as a dry mosaic, without the added element of water, which would reduce installation costs, maintenance costs and allow more interaction.
A couple of years ago I made a similar koi mosaic that lays flat as a patio.