European Stone Masonry - Fine stonework since 1985.
A Stone's Throw :: a blog about stonework, history and happenings around Raleigh, NC or farther than a stone's throw away.

The Fire Pit, Elevated

A fire pit in PittsboroWhile love comes in many forms, a nearly 4,000 pound rock isn't what usually comes to mind. But like a new pair of shoes or perfect fall sweater, our customer had to have it.
In fact, it was the impetus for a project that wasn't even on her home improvement radar when it was purchased. The 9' tall, purple-brown beauty, sat for 2 years waiting for design ideas to take form.
When European Stone Masonry LLC arrived on the project, it was standing upright like a lonely Easter Island figure.

Artisan and Handcrafted - What's In A Word?



It's Complicated
A few months ago, Rudy Christian, in his blog 'A Place For Trades', asked the question "Can we even comprehend craftsmanship today?" He has some insightful thoughts on our declining ability to value goods based on craftsmanship. He also talks about how the world economy has shaped the marketability of products and our own buying habits.
Mr. Christian argues the need for cultural and educational changes with respect to the building trades and also its patrons.

Stone Patio Know-How: What To Ask Before You Buy

A garden sculpture sets the tone for a playful patio retreat.Are you looking forward to a new stone patio this summer? Whether you hire a contractor or do it yourself, getting the fundamentals right up front means you shouldn't have problems later on. After all, the focus should be on home cooking and summer ales, right?
There are three keys to a quality stone patio installation. Proper site preparation is the foundation for success, and as we say, quality stonework is in the mix of details. Good drainage can be

Stylish Stonework: 5 Keys To Quality Craftsmanship

A stylish stone entryway At European Stone Masonry LLC, we talk about how quality craftsmanship is in the details, and that details make all the difference. But what exactly are those details? Can you recognize them when you're in need of a stonemason?
With a little help, you can spot the signs of quality craftsmanship and avoid costly mistakes, repairs and frustration.
Here are five guidelines for recognizing quality stonework based on our construction practices: 
On Solid Ground -

Carrying A Torch For Bluestone

Bluestone steps, 12' wide and asymmetricalBesides the variety of vivid colors and styles available, there's another reason to love bluestone - thermalling. Thermalling or flaming is the process of using an acetylene torch to remove imperfections from stone. And, it works really well on certain types of natural stone like bluestone.
So why would you use a torch on a rustic material like stone? Over the last ten years, bluestone has become an increasingly popular choice for Raleigh homeowners. It's a great design pick for walkways, patios and steps, because it pairs so well with brick and comes in an array of sizes and shapes.

Back To The Future: Belvidere Park Installs A Time Capsule

Belvidere Park Garden Club Christmas partyA small neighborhood project was a big reminder of how different Raleigh was in the 1950's. When Belvidere Park received grant money for a community improvement project, a time capsule with neighborhood history was not part of the plan. It was only after construction began on new entryway columns that the idea cropped up.
We realized, after tearing down the remains of the old columns, that it would've been fun if workers had left something behind for present-day residents.

Two Coins In The Stonework

Tools of the trade: hammer and chiselThe tradition of placing coins in stonework that's under construction goes way back, but I came upon it in the late 1990's. A stonemason from England had found my business online. I guess European Stone Masonry sounded like a good bet for employment. I couldn't offer him work, but I told him to look me up if he ever made it to North Carolina.
To my great surprise, a few weeks later he was in town and stopped by for a brew. I showed him some of my work around Raleigh, and he asked me if we threw coins into our stonework here.

Porches And Steps May Cause Separation Anxiety

After Makeover: Bluestone porchThis bluestone porch has had surgery but you can't see it - a kind of nip/tuck for masonry. It's a common problem with older homes and even some new ones around Raleigh.
The footing for the steps isn't attached to the porch or worse yet, there's no footing at all. A footing is just a concrete substructure that provides a solid base for masonry.
That Sinking Feeling. Over time, without a solid footing, the steps may separate from the porch.

A Stone Wall From The Inside Out

An above-ground masonry footingOur Twitter followers may remember a series of tweets about this job last year. Here's a more detailed look at the anatomy of a stone wall we built in downtown Raleigh.For this project, a large oak tree was key to how the stone wall was designed and constructed. Located on the grounds of an historic church, it was important to protect the mature tree during the installation of a new sitting wall and wheelchair ramp.
To minimize digging around the roots, an above-ground footing was designed.

Stonework Along The Iron Heritage Trail

Beckley Furnace in East Canaan, CTThis month, we're more than a stone's throw away from Raleigh. On a recent visit to Connecticut, we discovered the historic stonework along the Iron Heritage Trail. The Iron Heritage Trail is a series of 58 blast furnaces, lime kilns, forges, iron mining and mill sites in northwestern Connecticut and the surrounding areas of Massachusetts and New York.
At one time, this area was the center of America's iron industry. Today, it's a beautiful drive along lush rolling hills, quiet New England towns and for stone enthusiasts, more rambling walls than you can shake a chisel at.

New Stone Bench Marks Belvidere Park Entrance

Belvidere Park residents moving granite bench into placeBelvidere Park residents had fun yesterday placing a new stone bench near the Vale Street entrance. The project is funded by a neighborhood improvement program through the City of Raleigh. The stone bench is the next step in lengthy process which began with the construction of new stone columns at the main entrance to Dennis Avenue.
The bench is a seat with a past. The nearly twelve hundred pound block of stone is antique granite reclaimed from Central Prison in Raleigh.

A Buying Guide For Stonework: Choosing Your Contractor

Pets are often part of the project too.This post is a continuation of A Buying Guide For Stonework: Choosing Your Stone
Home Advantage
So how do you choose a residential masonry contractor? As with most home projects, it's well worth the effort to do a some research. (Oh sure, we've learned the hard way too. Don't ask about the bathtub debacle.)
Look for an experienced stonemason with great references, a solid reputation and one who offers a guarantee. Ask to see what they're currently working on.

A Buying Guide For Stonework: Choosing Your Stone

Daffodils along a stone wall announce spring.Ah, spring! It's that exhilarating season when we start moving on those honey-do projects we've been dreaming about all winter. Is stonework on your list? Maybe a winding garden wall to define your planting beds. Or a stone patio and outdoor fireplace for summer celebrations.
If you've decided your honey won't do for the bigger projects and haven't worked with a stonemason before, you may be wondering where to begin. Here are

Old Stone Fireplace Has A Porcine Past

Old stone fireplace on Highway 64 in KnightdaleIf you've ever traveled along Highway 64 west towards Raleigh, you may have wondered about this old stone fireplace from another era. It sits on an embankment on the right just past the Neuse River.
On a rainy winter day when this photo was taken, it had a spooky vibe, but you could imagine that it had once been a place where people had fun. These days, the substantial granite fireplace is forlorn with smilax vines getting the better of the terraced walls nearby.

Raleigh Neighborhood Breaks Ground On Stonework Project

Stonework project in Raleigh neighborhoodWelcome to A Stone's Throw, a new blog from European Stone Masonry LLC. Every month or so we'll focus on stonework, history and happenings from around Raleigh and maybe farther afield. This month we highlight a local project that's taken over 2 years and lots of twists.
It took a village, OK really an ITB neighborhood, to get this stonework project off the ground. But this week Belvidere Park broke ground on a new plan to improve their community.
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