Ask the Expert: Stonework

 

Interview by Kristen Schwaegerle
Ask_SteveGreen
Steve Green
Carved In Stone
603 659-4026
thechiseler.com

What attracted you to working with stone? Do you consider stonework artistry?
My attraction began with the availability of stone. Walking along the beach, through a field, or down a road, there was beauty, uniqueness and potential everywhere. There is artistry in any job well done, and the goal in any project I undertake is to do it well.

Is there something special about working with stone in New England?
There is an amazing variety of stones in the area. Rocks found in one small field could have come from hundreds of miles apart and been dropped there together. The glacial origins of fieldstone create a never-ending variety of shapes, sizes and workability. Also, the granite quarries in New England have some of the most beautiful stones in the world. The colors range from classic salt ‘n’ pepper, blue-grays, pinks, reds, lavenders and wild combinations.
Who or what has influenced or inspired your work with stone?
As a young boy I was fascinated with the work of Ed Monti from Quincy, Massachusetts. Ed did things with stone I had never seen before. When I began carving stone at the age of 30, I used his work as a guide for my own. But more than anyone else, my high school woodshop teacher, Fred Baker, taught me to be a stickler for detail, especially in the finish.

What was/is your most rewarding or ideal project for a homeowner and why?
The most rewarding project was an open-under, granite, spiral staircase. The complex design process, stone acquisition, and precise hand and machine work at my shop was an incredible experience. It was a grand project that in historical times I would have needed a master’s license to undertake. I hope the owners are as much in love with it as I. Win/wins are always the ideal!

Ask_PhilODonnell
Philip O’Donnell
New England Land Artisan
978 265-5570
nelandartisan.com

What attracted you to working with stone? Do you consider stonework artistry?
What attracted me to working with stone is its permanence: you are taking something that was here long before we were and with it making something that will be here long after we are gone. It is completely satisfying. I think that stonework can be artistry—I think that just about anything can be artistry.

Is there something special about working with stone in New England?
If you are working with native New England fieldstone, it is interesting to think about how it has already been handled when it was collected from the fields to make way for agriculture. New England has a long history of granite quarrying; there are a lot of antique granite blocks around that have been reclaimed from structures such as mill buildings and bridge abutments. I like to use these pieces knowing I am repurposing them.

Who or what has influenced or inspired your work with stone?
I am inspired almost daily, mostly by existing stone structures or untouched stone standing in nature.
What was/is your most rewarding or ideal project for a homeowner and why?
My most rewarding job is when the client is engaged in the project, communicates the concept and expectations well, and then wants me to see the project through to the end using my artistic vision. This typically happens when the homeowner has chosen to work with me because they have already identified that they like my aesthetics.

Ask_SethCorning
Seth Corning
Atlas Stonework
207 361-1395
atlasstoneworks.com

What attracted you to working with stone? Do you consider stonework artistry?
I was attracted to the permanence of stonework and the realization that what I was building could actually outlast me. Stonework is an art. After 17 years I’m still amazed at how we take rough stones and, although each single stone may not be pleasing in itself, we put them together in such a way that we create something beautiful. From randomness comes harmony.

Is there something special about working with stone in New England?
There is certainly something special about being a stonemason in a region with a centuries-old tradition of stonemasonry and quarrying. Also, Mother Nature certainly presents us with some special weather to work in here, and the extremes of heat and cold demand greater effort from us to ensure the longevity of what we are building.

Who or what has influenced or inspired your work with stone?
I was inspired by the masons who taught me early on—some of the best around. However, my latest project, renovating a large quantity of low-quality stonework, and seeing the emotional and financial toll it has taken on my client has really influenced my thinking, reinforcing my belief that it is up to us as individual contractors to uphold a standard for the industry. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
What was/is your most rewarding or ideal project for a homeowner and why?
Recently, I had the privilege of working on a large project that incorporated some once-in-a-lifetime elements: a stone turret, passageway tunnel and the longest wall I’ve ever built. I will always be able to look back on that experience with pride and have the satisfaction of knowing that my grandchildren may drive by one day and say, “My grandfather built that!”

Ask_MikeDelsesto
Michael Del Sesto
Hayden Hillsgrove Stone Masonry Inc
603 772-6061
haydenhillsgrovestonemasonry.com

What attracted you to working with stone? Do you consider stonework artistry?
The main attraction for me to working with stone is the ability to create something that will last for generations, and in the process, contributing both architecturally and emotionally to a project. If done right, stonework should evoke an emotional response from the viewer. I consider stonework a combination of form and functionality.

Is there something special about working with stone in New England?
Unlike other regions of the country, New England has a long history of quarrying and stonework that has given inspiration to many great architectural buildings and monuments throughout the country. I believe most New England residents are drawn to stonework because we have so much history in the use of stone, both in the functionality of fieldstone walls in our old pastures, and in the use of stone in the construction of our homes.

Who or what has influenced or inspired your work with stone?
I don't believe there is one particular thing that inspires me. Rather, each project is an inspiration, working with our clients to capture what it is that inspires them to want to create details using stone. Finding the right type of stone, as well as developing the particular style that each site or project dictates is the true inspiration for me, and when you get it right, it becomes its own inspiration.

What was/is your most rewarding or ideal project for a homeowner and why?
I don't have one particular project that has been the most rewarding. For my company and myself, when the homeowner or client is happy with the end result and we have been able to achieve the particular dream or design, that is the rewarding part and why I love what I do.  It should never be about what reward I wanted from a project but rather what the client was trying to accomplish.

Ask_MarkHogan
Mark Hogan
Piscataqua Landscaping Co., Inc.
207 439-2241
piscataqualandscaping.com

What attracted you to working with stone? Do you consider stonework artistry?
I grew up playing in beautiful woods. I learned to love nature and wanted to work outside. I started my career with Forest & Parks and doing stone masonry with a well-known stonemason in the ’70s. Artistic stonework is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. A skilled mason thinks about the flow of the stones’ color and size and about fitting stones to one another.

Is there something special about working with stone in New England?
New England stonewalls are a common historic thread winding throughout many communities. These old walls create a special sense of place or home. New England clients often choose this stone for that home feeling. The stone itself is handsome, durable and works well with hammer and chisel. As a mason, you know that another mason worked these stones years ago. It’s a privilege to re-work these old stones for our clients’ beautiful homes.

Who or what has influenced or inspired your work with stone?
My best friend Mark Swanberry, who worked on the first This Old House and Victory Gardens in the ’70s, taught me about stonework. We talked about seeing stones, how every stone has a place in the wall, and how to share the load by finding structural balance in stones or sweet spots. Working with other masons taught me that you need an open mind, patience, and a sense of humor to work with stone.
What was/is your most rewarding or ideal project for a homeowner and why?
A rewarding project starts with good communication. It’s important to listen to the client’s wishes and to share hardscape ideas, budgets and possibilities. The site can also communicate what needs to be done. Information key to creating a good design could include stonewalls, steps, patios, fire pits, sculptures and water features. It is rewarding to create stonework the homeowners truly appreciate and enjoy.

Ask_DeanLudington
Dean Ludington
Serious Stonework
207 467-0481
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What attracted you to working with stone? Do you consider stonework artistry?
Stonework is absolutely artistry. Some years ago, a Czech sculptor friend came for a visit. He took one look at the stone walls and said, “Is land art!” I was attracted to stonework when I returned to New England after college and five years in California. It was like seeing the native stonework for the first time. So I gave it a shot and am still at it 29 years later.

Is there something special about working with stone in New England?
I find working with stone in New England special because first, it is a dirty, heavy, tricky craft that necessarily takes place outdoors in all sorts of weather—a lot of it bad. The work lends itself to a quiet self-righteousness that is somewhat unique to the Yankee craftsman. Second, working with stone is something that my teenage daughters think is an almost OK occupation. Getting their approval on anything is really difficult.

Who or what has influenced or inspired your work with stone?
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to a stonemason named Jeff Higgins. He taught me the basics. I still believe his particular aesthetic to be the most pleasing I have ever seen.

What was/is your most rewarding or ideal project for a homeowner and why?
My ideal project is one in which I can talk the homeowner into using a particular type of fieldstone from North Berwick, Maine. It is an odd, reddish stone with lots of iron in it. Also, any job where I get to go into the woods and collect the stone myself is great. Those hours in the woods collecting each stone are some of the fondest recollections I have of my time here on earth.


PrintEmail

Pin It

Spotlight Directory

 

Google+