I had a great trip in NY with Luca where it was pool weather every day.  We came back on July 5th to great Northwest weather as well.  Not pool weather but definitely summer.  It has been very busy this past month.  In continuing to enclose a yard uptown that I have been working on off and on for awhile,   I recently finished the gates and trellis’.  They came out really nice with good communication between myself and the homeowner.  I am happy to have made their vision a reality.

I have also been back downtown restoring old chimneys, this time next door to the ten chimneys at 810 Water St.  Again the mortar was too deteriorated to salvage so I tore them down to the flashing and rebuilt them.  This time there were only three chimneys to rebuild.  Unfortunately, everything I do up there gets covered in seagull guano.  Oh well.


Things are getting pretty busy this summer.  Trying my best to balance work, taking care of Luca, and getting things done before my trip to New York.  I finished rebuilding the ten chimneys atop 810 Water St.  Getting the metal flu liner in the chimney that leads to the boiler was very difficult since the flu got smaller in the middle.  It took six hours but I figured it out.  I will go back soon to acid wash the chimneys and repoint the sandstone caps.


On Monday I was back at a wonderful Uptown house where I have done quite a bit of work.   Last time, I finished a fence, gate and trellis around their ADU yard.  They have a majestic Redwood in the yard that had been pruned recently.  I was able to fashion a couple of those cut offs into gate handles.  Fun.


Now I am building a bike shed, something that is right up my alley.  I have the platform and framing established, tomorrow I will start the plywood and the roof.  I like the change of location from downtown rooftop to Uptown front yard.

Seagulls and Bricks

My latest project has me on top of an 1893 brick building downtown.  There is a parapet wall topped with ten brick chimneys and sandstone caps.  The seagulls love it up here and have made nests and messes for many, many years.  The mortar is too rotten to repoint and the bricks are too dirty so I am tearing them down to the flashing, cleaning the brick and relaying the chimneys.  For some reason, not all of the chimneys have the same number of courses or corbel details so I am laying them all as a unified group.

The weather has been very Belgian this week, windy and wet so making progress has been difficult.  I have rebuilt three of the ten chimneys and was able to do two today so if the weather improves I should be done in a week.  Ironically, the only chimney that needs a metal liner down to the boiler was blocked by four bricks that had fallen off the top.  They were lodged ten feet below the roof line.  I went into the bedroom, took out a brick and removed the blockage.  Those bricks were caked in seagull guano and creosote.  Gross.  I mortared in a brick to fill the hole and now I can drop the liner down.

It is interesting working with seagulls.  They had eggs up there on Monday, but just shells remained Tuesday.  Another egg appeared Wednesday right near my stuff, not in a nest.  Today it was broken up.  I don’t know if my presence is disturbing their nesting but I am pretty sure those eggs did not hatch but were destroyed.  The seagulls waste no time in soiling a brand new chimney.  And they were really loud while I was on the phone today.  A little courtesy guys!

Fantastic Weather For Working Outdoors

The brick patio was completed today and it really came together nicely.  The river rock border for the planting area and the river rock under the step really compliment the brick.  The main area for the table and chairs came out well with a nice curving shape.  I am very pleased with the results and even more pleased that the sunshine was out every day of this job.

Dig, Dig, Dig

My latest project is a brick patio to accommodate outdoor table and chairs, a chiminea and serve as a compliment to the surrounding flower beds.  Hand excavating the two hundred square feet for this job was a very labor intensive endeavor.  There was a lot more dirt than I thought.  Luckily this was the hardest part.  After the dirt is removed, lines go up to define the shape and establish level.  There are lines everywhere so watch your step!  After the guide lines are set, the weed blocker goes in and on top of that, 1/4 inch minus crushed gravel.  The gravel is compacted to a hard packed base.  After the gravel comes the sand.  I use metal pipes as levelers for the sand and then a straight 2 x 4 to screed the sand flat and level  This system works very nicely and once the pipes are removed the bricks get installed with minor adjustments.  The bricks are going in fast now with about 600 installed, 400 to go.

Good Fences

I had to work around a lot of rain to accomplish phase one of this fence project.  My poor power tools had to deal with so much adversity on this.  My Delta planer did not make it so I upgraded to a DeWalt.  All of the stiles on the fence were recut and ripped on the table saw from the existing fence on the property.  The rest of the cedar was rough sawn and planed to the desired thickness.  The recycled cedar has a great variation in color that only comes with weather and age.


A Healthy Ending

I was bogged down with a cold or allergies this week and unable to work Tueday and Wednesday.  I was so excited to finish this wall but I rested and waited.  I felt well enough on Thursday to work on it and I was pleased to finish it by 2:30p.m.  It has a terrific serpentine quality and a lot of visual interest.  Despite the wavy and knobby top, there are still at least four flat spots to sit.  The glass pieces really set the wall off.  There is even a glass bowl embedded in the masonry for the frogs to live in (or snails, whoever gets there first).  With a broken rock and a very round one I was able to create what I think looks like a baseball in a catcher’s mitt.  Lots of fun on this project.  Can’t wait to see this one surrounded by shade plants and nice gravel.

Flowing Creativity

The new garden wall I am working on is proving to be a very exciting and creative project, heavy on the “art” side of things.  The client’s collection of glass objects is amazing and her input and collaboration truly make this an enjoyable partnership of creative minds.  A lot of progress was made today and the wall is about half done.  The cap work is a lot of fun.  It is nice to leave the levels at home and just go with the flow.

The Art in Artisan

A new wall has begun and the client shares my passion for stone and brick mixed together.  Even better, there will be glass in varying forms throughout the wall as well.  The wall will be 27 feet long and 2 feet high, acting as a retaining wall and a sitting area.  A four inch thick reinforced concrete footing was poured last week with a four inch block wall laid on top.  Friday we chose large rocks for the bottom and today I got most of the base rocks in and started laying brick as well.  It should be a fun and creative project.

Finished Chimney

The weather was perfect for working outside these past two days.  I was even down to a t-shirt a couple of times.  I was on my own for the finish and I sure appreciate Ricky’s help when I had him.  The mortar goes far with cultured stone so I didn’t have to mix too much.  It was exciting to tear the scaffold down and see the completed product.  I really like the texture.   Sierra Mountain Ledge is a good product, I would work with it again.