Inspired Spaces

It was our pleasure to host an exclusive event for original thinkers on Thursday, October 13th at Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden. The focus of the event was to provide an atmosphere of discovery that would stimulate ideas and discussion and enable the participants to see natural stone in a new light.

Industry leaders in the design-build community wound their way through the paths of the garden, much like a scavenger hunt, discovering new ways to think about and use natural stone.

“Magical” and “inspiring” is how participants described the ‘Inspired Spaces’. Rainy skies cleared just in time for the gathering as the melodic sounds of Dr. Yang and his talented musicians played traditional Chinese instruments to set the tone for the unforgettable experience.

Chinese butterfly kites marked the way through the garden to photographic displays of Yellow Mountain StoneWorks projects alongside a display of a full array of stone in a variety of shapes and finishes.

In one of the discovery zones, Seattle stone mason, Jon Aguilar, demonstrated the ease of setting up and adjusting the Buzon pedestal set system, for use on exterior decking and walkways.

As the 60+ participants sipped wine and savored gourmet appetizers, the sound of laughter and hearty conversation signaled a successful event. Gathering the unique perspectives of architects, interior designers, builders, and masons in an informal setting was critical to the personality of the generative event experience.

Yellow Mountain StoneWorks is focused on creating new forums for inspiration and original ideas for natural stone. Look forward to more opportunities in the near future.

West Seattle Garden Tour

The amazing spaces that local gardeners created with patience, innovation and natural materials were celebrated July 17 during West Seattle’s ‘The Art of Gardening’ tour.

A proud sponsor of the tour’s 17th year, Yellow Mountain StoneWorks donated a Chinese granite basin with a hand carved base to the event. Proceeds from the raffle will benefit organizations ranging from the Seattle Chinese Garden to the West Seattle Tool Library to Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center.

The Yellow Mountain StoneWorks urn was displayed at the Tagney-Jones Garden during the tour. Formerly the Colman-Pierce Estate, the 2.5 acre garden sits on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound and features an amazing array of 2,000 species of rhododendron and 80 varieties of trees.

Like the kindred spirits we celebrated during the garden tour, Yellow Mountain StoneWorks is a company of original thinkers who focus on clear process and creativity. This allows us to be better design collaborators while staying focused on what’s important: the client.

If you are considering natural stone as part of your design scheme, please contact us at 206-932-5696 and make an appointment to visit our West Seattle Studio or view our online gallery.

Climbable Art

As soon as the ribbon was cut at the new Transit Center in Kirkland, Washington, people began climbing on the public art – just as the artist intended. That result was achieved by a well-suited team with diverse expertise, creatively collaborating throughout the process.

The artist’s vision required the stone be cut in complex shapes, the facets finished in a variety of textures, and the pieces precisely fit together.

“I knew what I was asking was really complex, with stones cut in this intricate fashion,” says artist Carolyn Law. “I was really lucky to find Yellow Mountain. I talked to them about ideas as much as I talked to them about logistics and details.”

Yellow Mountain Stoneworks’ granite selection met Law’s need for a broad range of hues, including red, black, gray and white. And to accentuate the many facets of the stone pieces, the artist used seven different finishes from polished to rustic hand finishes. “Yellow Mountain opened the door to all these finishes. They didn’t limit me,” Caroline says.

Knowing there’s very little wiggle room in a public art budget, we worked with Caroline to find the best solution that met both her aesthetic and budget. “Yellow Mountain was really straightforward to work with,” says Caroline. “They were very careful to let me know what they thought would work best within my budget. Pricing was straight up and didn’t deviate. That was wonderful.”

Executing the installation posed additional challenges because of the tight tolerances and the weight of the stone; the largest block weighed about 3500 pounds, and the irregular shapes that are nestled up against each other have a maximum tolerance of one quarter of an inch and are installed on concrete terracing. With such tight tolerances, there wasn’t enough room for “strapping,” the process normally used to maneuver stone into place. And sliding stone against stone would have damaged the finishes. So Steve Siebert of Garden Stone Masonry used this unique, and we think brilliant, installation trick: thin slices of ice blocks were used as rollers to move the stones. As the ice melted, the stones settled into their exact positions.

Caroline wanted to work with natural stone because, “I wanted a material that people would gravitate towards. Concrete does not do it. It doesn’t have the same sensory impact as natural stone.” Watching people climb among the irregular shapes or sit and caress the intricate finishes – would appear to prove her right.


Creation of Lan Su Chinese Garden ten years ago gave birth to Yellow Mountain StoneWorks, and we are proud to be a sponsor of the garden’s year-long birthday celebration.

To honor our decade of shared passion and collaboration, Yellow Mountain has created a sculpture for Lan Su that symbolizes two parties coming together for a single purpose. “Fluidity” combines our Butterfly Blue Granite and Redheart Limestone®.

Installation of the sculpture in the garden’s entry plaza coincides with Lan Su’s birthday month. “Fluidity” will be on view during the Mooncakes & Pomegranates dinner September 1 at the garden, featuring live music and food from 14 Portland restaurants. The sculpture will also be displayed at Lan Su’s anniversary gala and fundraising dinner at the Portland Art Museum on September 16, 2010.

The collective passion of those involved in creating the garden inspired Yellow Mountain’s founders to base our business on the elegance and affordability of Chinese materials and stone craft. And to strive for close collaboration on every project we undertake.

This exquisite Chinese garden showcases the remarkable fluidity of stone as a landscape and building material. So do our other Portland projects, which range from high-end residences to captivating public parks and streetscapes.

Making the Invisible Visible

The work of noted Northwest artist Perri Lynch examines the relationship between human perception and sense of place. Drawn to landmarks, issues of navigation, intuition, and physical proximity are key components of these investigations.  This made Lynch the perfect choice to develop a piece public art that would honor and protect the Sand Point Calibration Baseline that runs through Seattle’s Magnuson Park.

The line itself is entirely spatial, invisible but for small, periodic bronze disks embedded in the ground. Public and private surveyors use the line to verify and calibrate electronic distance-measurement equipment, which aids everything from construction to law enforcement to transportation. The accuracy of the Sand Point line is said to be within half a millimeter.

Lynch was enticed by working with this unseen, mostly unknown landmark that the vast majority of people don’t even know exists, let alone holds importance.

“The baseline is a humble bit of infrastructure that brings definition to our world, without most of us ever knowing it’s there,” Lynch says. “A 10-foot-wide, kilometer-long swath cuts straight through Magnuson Park from south to north, yet goes unnoticed by thousands of people every day. Isn’t that amazing? With the artwork now in place, my hope is that the presence of the baseline will register with park users, be revered as something special, and augment the overall park experience.”

On June 7, 2009 the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs in partnership with Seattle Public Utilities, dedicated Straight Shot, a procession of 12 standing Ink Jade Limestone™ monoliths that cover a one kilometer course running parallel to Seattle’s original survey calibration baseline.

The stones are perfectly aligned to the baseline. Two circular holes drilled through each stone invite visitors to peer through, creating a framed perspective of the surrounding wetlands and shoreline. The sight line offers a straight shot, thus the artwork’s title. Sighting through the stones, the viewer has the experience of making a targeted observation in the landscape, adopting the stance of a surveyor calibrating his or her instruments.

For Yellow Mountain StoneWorks, this project was the ideal opportunity to illustrate the fluidity of natural stone. During fabrication, our masons allowed the uniqueness of each piece to emerge from the quarry block bringing to bear a skill that is thousands of years old. Through the use of digital photography during production, Yellow Mountain StoneWorks made it possible for the artist to be actively involved throughout the fabrication process. Working with Lynch allowed us to do what we do best — which is to leverage old-world stone craftsmanship to bring a designer’s concept to life and make the whole process transparent.

Learn more about the background of the project and the installation of the monoliths on Perri Lynch’s blog: