Spring 2010 Classes at the Arboretum

The new class schedule for the North Carolina Arboretum was recently announced. I am leading three stonework classes this spring. DIY Flagstone Paths & Patios will be offered twice, on Saturday April 10th and on Friday April 16th. In the morning session, we discuss the basics of drystone flagging: necessary site prep, the principles of good structure and varying joinery styles. In the afternoon we go outside to the stone classroom and practice the essential skills: moving stone safely, shaping individual pieces and leveling the patio.

I am offering a brand new class this spring, called Stonework Special Projects: Making a Bench on Saturday May 15th. In the morning we will discuss the design and structural issues of building a stone bench. In the afternoon we will build a freestanding bench ourselves. Topics of note including cutting stone with feathers and wedges and how to move large stones safely.


Sister Cities, Brother Benches

These two benches were cut from the same slab of Tennessee sandstone. The first was built as a free-standing structure in a Chapel Hill neighborhood to celebrate the life of one of their most beloved members, Grandpa Tony. The bench is mortared and features an adjacent boulder with a small plaque. I call this type a castle block bench, named after the material used for the base stones.

Memorial stone bench by Hammerhead Stoneworks

Grandpa Tony’s bench

The second bench is in Asheville, adjacent to a sidewalk. The sitting stone, seatback and arm rests were all cut from same stone as Grandpa Tony’s bench. It is a drystone structure and built directly into the retaining wall.

retaining wall bench

A stone bench set into a retaining wall in downtown Asheville.

Next spring I will be leading a hands-on class at the Arboretum on making a stone bench. We’ll be building a castle block bench together that day. The official class date hasn’t been announced, but let me know if you’d like to be updated when the class registry opens.

DIY Flagstone Class: August 22nd

DIY Flagstone Class
On Saturday, I led the first DIY Flagstone class of the season at the NC Arboretum. Ten people took part in the workshop which started at 9 and lasted until 4. In the morning we looked at several samples in a slideshow and discussed the stones, tools and structural elements of a good drystone patio. Just before lunch, we reviewed the safety concerns we might encounter working together. After lunch we headed outside to the ‘Stone Classroom’, a corner of the Arboretum grounds where they have built a gigantic sandbox for paving projects. After a couple of demos, people worked in teams of two to build their own section of flagstone patio. People had fun and did some great, creative work.

Upcoming Classes

bluestone patio

Dimensional bluestone makes a lovely patio behind this modern Asheville home.

There are two new sections of the Do-It-Yourself Flagstone Paths and Patios workshop now registering via the North Carolina Arboretum’s website. The classes take place on Saturday, August 22nd and Friday, September 4th. They begin at 9:00 a.m. and run until 4:00 p.m. After a morning slideshow and discussion, the class moves outside. The Arboretum built a stone classroom in a clearing in the woods with a gigantic sandbox just for us. After some brief demonstrations of basic safety, stone-moving, and shaping techniques everyone gets to work applying what they’ve learned. Please contact me: marc (at) hammerheadstoneworks (dot) com with any questions or if you need help registering.

Is Stone Green? Sustainability conference

Sustainability Conference

Yesterday I took part in the Mt. Green Sustainability Conference at Warren Wilson College. I led a session on Sustainability in Stonework, in which I introduced the Green Target tool I recently created. I talked about the four elements and what they mean: Function, Energy, Lifespan and Culture. We reviewed the cabin case study and then did a case study together on another project. You can see the images I used on the right side of the board in this picture.

Sustainability Conference

Classroom Setup


Sustainability ConferenceThis is the graphic I used to explain the Green Target. It was a brief session, so my explanation was shorter than I would have liked, but the case study really seemed to bring it together for people. After the class a few people stopped to talk to me about the tool. During my talk I spoke about the subjective, values driven nature of the tool. Maybe someday it could be empirical, but I’m not sure that’s necessary or helpful. I want to promote dialogue and discovery. There are plenty of certification programs out there and more emerging everyday. I wanted to create a way for everyone else to talk about all this stuff.

This is the first edition of the Daily Sledge, my company newsletter. I published it as the companion to a presentation I did.

Flagstone class

flagstone paths

Dry-laid flagstone path

In April I led a class on creating do-it-yourself flagstone paths and patios at the North Carolina Arboretum. It was a perfect day for it. We started with a classroom presentation that covered the basics of setting flagstone as well as aesthetic choices and safety issues. after lunch we went outside to the Arboretum’s Stone Classroom and played with some Tennessee sandstone. Flat and easily worked, sandstone is a good starter stone for DIYers. People worked in teams of two and laid small areas of flagging.

In this picture I am apparently demonstrating the proper technique for making sure your stones don’t float away while you are working them.

Photo credit: Mac Franklin of the NC Arboretum. Mac and his crew built the classroom, including the gigantic sandbox I used for the class.

We have scheduled two more classes for August and early September. The dates will announced to Arboretum members soon. If you are interested, Contact Marc at (828) 337-7582 or hammerheadstone@gmail.com.