Our most recent job is repairs to the stonework on the spillway for the lake at Grandfather Country club. The project will also involve the construction of 5 stone columns supporting the guardrail for the bridge. We were hired by Summers Taylor of Elizabethton, TN, a heavy construction specialist whose local projects include the large concrete retaining walls on 421 near New Market Center in Boone NC.
Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting with a group of Asheville stonemasons and Tomas Lipps, director of the Stone Foundation (http://stonefoundation.org/) in anticipation of the upcoming Symposium this fall. Topics we discussed were lodging, transportation, workshop projects, catering, etc... We are all very excited to be a part of this event, which brings stone masons and stone enthusiasts from all over the world together for education and camaraderie.
Other news is the completion of a drystone retaining wall In Banner Elk. I used a thick TN fieldstone to create a simple stone wall which would blend and harmonize with the natural setting of the residence. The wall is meant to support the foundations of the house which had become exposed by erosion, and to create a path for the owner to access birdfeeders. I also used stones we reclaimed from a small landing and walls to create a simple path of stepping stones.
This winter and spring, I completed several stonework projects in Chattanooga, and I am already scheduling projects for next winter in Chattanooga. One of the advantages of being a stonemason in Chattanooga or Boone is the need for steps to access the sloped areas where homes are built. Stone steps are an economical and beautiful choice Below are some of the Chattanooga stonework projects, and more coming soon!
Living Stone Masonry is on the Road again! We are searching far and wide form our usual turf of Boone NC to find the best stone jobs available. Our travels have taken us last weekend to Raleigh NC, and tomorrow we leave for Chattanooga TN, where I was born and raised before moving to the mountains of North Carolina. Last weekend in Raleigh we made amazing progress on a drystone retaining wall we are building with a local weathered granite. By using a combination of large stones set with and excavator and smaller stones set in a rough, semi polygonal pattern, we have been able to build this wall much faster than I thought was possible. The longer my involvement with stonework, the more I appreciate this type of stonework. The natural weathered faces of these stone make an extremely attractive and interesting wall.
Over the weekend I was able to work in Raleigh, NC on the large drystone retaining wall I started last weekend. I was able to complete a section and have a photo to share. I like the character of the wall and the large rough stones. This is a cost effective and incredibly durable type of construction, not to mention how the natural look of the stones will enhance the client's backyard.
I was also able to get photos of the repair work in Banner Elk, but unfortunately I do not have good "before" pictures.
This section of wall was crumbling and showed loose stones and mortar, as well as being quite a bit taller. We reduce the height and rebuilt and tuckpointed most of the section in the picture, creating a wall that functions and looks like new, but uses the same stone and has the same character as the original.
Much of my work this winter has been restoring walls at a nearby residence here in Banner Elk. I enjoy the process of dismantling a crumbling wall and bringing it back to new or better condition. Unfortunately, I usually neglect to take photos of these types of projects, but I will try to post some soon. The best thing about restoration work is the client gets a new-looking wall for much less than what a new wall would cost.
The other project I was recently involved with was in Raleigh NC. The owner had purchased 120 tons of a granite fieldstone and became overwhelmed with trying to start this project on his own. He called me in to help teach him the skills he would need to finish the project on his own, and to help him get some progress made to keep morale high.
I think the arrangement worked well for everyone; I had the opportunity to work on a project where the logistics had been taken care of, and the owner was able to draw from my years of experience, my tools, and my techniques to help make his project become a reality. I will post more on this project as it develops in the future.
Well, I have a lot of catching up to do for my blog today. One reason for my lapse has been a broken camera, but I plan to remedy that soon and resume posting photographs of my projects. First let me say this winter has been much more successful than the previous two, mainly because of weather, but also because of strategy and luck. My luck was having wonderful neighbors move in who wanted to restore their aging stone retaining walls, steps, and walkways. I spent several weeks in December starting there and was aided by unusually warm weather. That project will hopefully be ongoing through the season and I will have photos in the future. Next, my strategy was to escape the cold temperatures and snow we normally experience here in Western NC this time of year, and I have been largely successful on that account. I'm from Chattanooga, and have lots of family and family friends there, and I was able to schedule a number of projects which I just finished last Friday. While there, I gave estimates for two more projects and will most likely return soon. This is a good place for me to expand because the temperatures are 10 -20 degrees warmer -and even better- I can buy my stone quarry direct, allowing me to offer lower prices in that area.
Other exciting news is after reading Dan Snow's book- "Listening to Stone", I decided to sign up for a 5-day workshop with him in Newfoundland! Soon after that, I found out the Stone Foundation's annual symposium is coming to Asheville NC, just an hour and a half away! They will also be offering a workshop is dry stone masonry among other things. If you haven't heard of Dan snow, check him out. He has published two books, and he is a famous and well respected dry stone mason, as well as being quite a good writer, a quality which stonemasons are not always known for.
I want to change it up and write about something other than stonework today. I want to write about something that has become a true passion for me, and something that is a growing movement across the country. Local farms and specifically local meat has been an incredible way for me to support the local economy while providing clean, healthy meat for my table. I have been involved with a meat CSA (community supported agriculture), through which I get 10 lbs of meat/mo for the upfront cost of 300 for 5 mo. This helps support the farm through winter and get my local beef, pork, and chicken while the farmers markets are closed for winter. Local and grassfed meat is fresh, tastes better, and is more nutritious than store bought meat, and I just feel good about knowing the people who operate the farm where my food comes from.
Two local farms who provide meat csa's are:
Sometimes people ask me if there is such a thing as a "Masonry Emergency." The answer is yes; I get several calls a year where a client has an emergency situation. Most of these involve aging chimneys with stones falling, endangering the inhabitants and the roof. Most recently, I was contacted by an individual who had large river stones falling from his chimney and damaging the metal roof below. It was pretty disturbing for them to hear stones hitting the roof when they were inside the house (not to mention the chance of being hit by a fallen stone), and the family was planning a retreat over Thanksgiving and needed the project completed by then. The extreme part of the job was the scaffolding needed to make the repairs. We had to erect three sets of scaffold, 2 of which were on top of the metal roof.
Recently we were faced with an interesting challenge: to remove and rebuild an arched opening over a firebox to improve the draw and function of the fireplace. We also replaced damaged firebricks.
William Waller, owner Living Stone Masonry