A couple of weeks ago I finished the Fossil Floor in the house in the Ramble. (The blog inevitably gets neglected in springtime as work, garden and playing outside take precedence!) Fossils, like this goniatite, appear here and there throughout the floor. There are four kids in the household and I tried to include elements that would interest them. I think the best stonework has details in it that reward closer attention.
The lighting is a little funky, but this is a view of the finished floor in a small bathroom on the main floor. Mexican beach pebbles turned on edge run in trails in the main paths, but only appear as individuals in the smaller stone background that surrounds the paths.
One of the interesting challenges of the project was how to lay out the pathway. I couldn’t really do it in the space, as there was no room to spread out the stone to look at it all and I wasn’t going to work the stones indoors- too messy and noisy. I did the majority of the design outside. First I ‘drew’ the general shape of the path out of string on a mulch bed. Then I added the big plates of full-color bluestone to form the edges. I did both sides and some stones that led off the path to stairways and the laundry room. I didn’t do too many of the smaller fill stones, knowing that setting the stones would subtly shift their relationships to each other. If I over prepare, I end up with more variation in the joinery than I really want. I didn’t cut the doorway ends until I was ready to install them, to make sure that I hit my targeted edges spot on.
As a result of doing the layout that way, I ended up with spaces in the path that required filling once the edges were laid in the thinset. Using construction paper, a big pencil and a pair of scissors, I created templates for each space/stone. Then I’d wander outside and find matches for each. Since the matches were rarely ideal, I wold then cut them down with the grinder before bringing them inside to install. It’s important to label the templates properly, because if they get flipped over, the stone won’t fit. And the bottom of a worked stone never looks quite as good as the top. The goal of this process was to find stones that fit with the fewest number of trips. It was probably twenty paces between the stone pile and the floor. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really slows progress to go back and forth that many times. Once I settled on this templating solution, I was fairly efficient with filling those smaller spaces.