Lan Su Gala

About 350 people attended the culminating event of Lan Su Chinese Garden’s 10th anniversary, a gala and fundraising dinner at the Portland Art Museum Sept. 16.

As a memento of the occasion, all guests received a stone token created by Yellow Mountain StoneWorks. A sponsor of the garden’s year-long birthday celebration, Yellow Mountain StoneWorks also designed “Fluidity”, a sculpture that was on view during the garden’s birthday month. Both the tokens and the sculpture were fabricated from the same materials, Redheart Limestone® and Butterfly Blue Granite.

“We enjoyed Fluidity’s sojourn at the Garden and each of us will now treasure our little piece of Yellow Mountain in the beautiful gift you gave to everyone at the Gala,” said Lan Su Executive Director Cynthia Johnson Haruyama.

In thanking Yellow Mountain StoneWorks, Haruyama quoted an 11th century poem, bowing to the Chinese tradition of cementing friendship through poetry:

The autumn wind enters through the window,
The gauze curtain starts to flutter and fly.
I raise my head and look at the bright moon,
And send my feelings a thousand miles in its light.

Lan Su Sponsorship

Throughout 2010, Yellow Mountain StoneWorks is co-sponsoring the tenth birthday celebration of Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, the most authentic Chinese garden outside China.

Collaborating on the garden [July 1999 – September 2000] awakened John Williams and Erik Nelson to the wonders of stone as a landscape and building material, and to the elegance and affordability of Chinese stone craft.

Yellow Mountain StoneWorks was born out of that collaboration. Even today, Yellow Mountain StoneWorks relies on the intercontinental network of relationships Nelson and Williams established while working as senior project managers for the award-winning garden.

Both men came away from that project impressed by what “collaboration among strangers with a common artistic goal” can achieve. That’s the principle that guides them and Yellow Mountain StoneWorks partner Nicole Gelpi.

That passion helped both their company and the garden flourish over the past decade. “We have gone through the gestation of helping partners bring Chinese materials and finishes into contemporary Western architecture and landscapes. We’re at a point now,” said Williams, “where we are able to demonstrate some of our own compositions of materials and finishes that are very captivating – different from what you’ll find most stone suppliers doing.”

The highlight of Yellow Mountain StoneWorks’ sponsorship is a series of events in September, the garden’s birthday month, including:
• Mooncakes & Pomegranates dinner Sept. 1 featuring live music and food from 14 Portland restaurants
• A week of Chinese games in the garden, with birthday cake served at 3pm every day Sept. 13-17
• An Anniversary Gala and fundraising dinner at the Portland Art Museum Sept. 16

The garden demonstrates the remarkable fluidity of stone as a landscape and building material. Lan Su is a creative wonder — a powerfully inspiring experience based on a 2,000-year-old Chinese tradition that melds art, architecture, design and nature into perfect harmony. The Ming Dynasty-style garden features 14 pavilions and bridges, intricate paving patterns, Taihu Rock, Bamboo Shoot Rock, and a lotus-covered lake. Lan Su is a window into Chinese culture, history and way of thinking.


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:

Ancient Limestone Reclaimed

More than seven centuries ago, a stone bridge was built over a section of the Yangtze River near the fabled birthplace of one of the famous Four Beauties of ancient China. The story, which includes betrayal, sacrifice, and palace intrigue (and in some telling’s rivers of tears, dragons, and immortals), has been handed down through generations and retold in poetry, plays, dance, and movies. The ancient bridge brought pre-Ming Dynasty visitors to a museum created to pay homage to one of China’s great heroines. The museum still stands today, surviving the flood 650 years ago that caused the bridge to collapse and its stone to be buried.

In 2008, we discovered 400 cubic meters of the ancient, hand carved limestone blocks that had been used to build the bridge.  The stone blocks had been found in a tributary of the Yangtze River where, amazingly, they had lain buried in the riverbed until this past year.  The movement of the channel caused them to be exposed, and we immediately recognized its value as reclaimed material.

“Investing in bringing this reclaimed stone to the market is part of our company’s commitment to applying a global perspective to our business operations,” said John Williams, president of Yellow Mountain StoneWorks. “We strive to minimize not only our impact on the environment, but to seek ways to extend our natural resources.”

This gorgeous stone, which still bears the markings of ancient Chinese craftsmen, is now finding new expression in contemporary architecture and landscapes as Yellow Mountain StoneWorks’s Reclaimed Grand Tortoise Limestone™.

“Unlike a lot of the post-consumer product in the market right now, this stone was dressed very carefully on all six faces,” said Williams.  “This is simply the finest quality reclaimed antique stone we have ever seen.”

The age, quality, and features of this stone allow us to create a broad palate of colors and finishes.  The reclaimed stone features a rich chocolate color with some veining in a squarish, mottled pattern similar to the back of a tortoise shell, hence the name Grand Tortoise Limestone™.  This limestone also bears the mark of time with its build-up of colors including yellow, ochre, rust and brown visible across the stone’s craggy surface.

Most of the Reclaimed Grand Tortoise Limestone™ blocks were finished to about 30” x 18” x 10”.  At this size, we can fabricate the stone into multiple pieces of veneer, quoins, or pavers with multiple faces exhibiting the prized antique finishing.  Additionally, a unique characteristic of this stone is the prevalence of Belemnite fossils which occur in whole or as fragments throughout the material and can be diminished with hand finishes or highlighted with the Honed or more refined finishes.

The most interesting potential applications for Reclaimed Grand Tortoise Limestone® may be wall veneer and quoins, although it could be used as a focal point because of its antiquity. It is also ideally suited for use as monolithic treads and risers, as well as through-wall material.