Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Because natural stone has been used in much the same ways for centuries, a common assumption is that very little has changed in the fabrication and finishing of stone. Not true. At Yellow Mountain StoneWorks we are continually innovating new finishes and processes to solve specific problems and achieve the aesthetic visions of the designers with whom we collaborate.

On a recent residential project in Hawaii, the design intent was to create a visual flow by using the same limestone for the interior flooring as the exterior patio and pool surround. The interior stone tiles were honed to a beautiful effect, but that wouldn’t work for the pool area because the finish would be too slippery under wet feet. In response, we applied a subtle antique finish to the pavers surrounding the pool – adding just enough texture to create a lovely barefoot feel, reduce slippage, and maintain the desired aesthetic.

“In architecture and landscaping projects the best use of natural stone heightens both art and function,” said John Williams, President and co-owner of Yellow Mountain StoneWorks. “This is when we’re reminded that necessity is the mother of invention; we have to be able to create a solution that meets all of the requirements of a project.”

We first developed our antique finish in order to provide newly quarried stone with the same rich patina and textured character of ancient reclaimed stone. The beauty of the product, combined with the achieved cost, time, and supply efficiencies inspired us to continue evolving new methods. Over the past few years we have created a foundation of standardized techniques from which we can now create infinite variations across multiple types of stone.

“This flexibility allows us to address a client’s concern about texture, glare, friction, color, visual impact, whatever they are worried about by subtlety or dramatically adjusting the finish,” says Nicole Gelpi, Yellow Mountain StoneWorks co-owner and Director of Marketing. “For example, corduroy and pineapple finishes, which are both dramatic, traditional Chinese percussive finishes, become softer when combined with an antique finish. A honed finish can reduce or eliminate glare. And a mushroom finish can add greater or lesser degrees of texture and shadow to interior and exterior walls.”

But even with an infinite palette of finishes – the innovation doesn’t stop here. Because Yellow Mountain StoneWorks sources stone from around the world and different stones have unique characteristics to be highlighted or subdued, we continue to develop new techniques. Our goal is simple: increase our clients’ ability to confidently and cost-effectively customize their projects.

Aging Stone

There is an undeniable beauty and richness to ancient stone – infused as it is with evidence of geological time and human endeavor. And for certain architectural and landscaping projects, painting with this resonant palette deepens the resulting aesthetic. But stone that is both centuries-old and available for contemporary projects is rare. And for consistency across large scale projects, finding enough reclaimed ancient stone with the same features is even rarer. So we asked ourselves, how can we create the depth and character of ancient stone on the surfaces of newly quarried stone?  In essence: how do we conjure age?

Rusty Manchu Caviar - Antiqued

We started, as we often do, by experimenting. Starting with granites, we played with different combinations and manipulations of hand-tooled finishes and surface treatments until we achieved the same rich, weathered patina and soft feel that is accomplished by centuries of exposure. The result was not a specific solution but rather the ability to create a flexible palette of antique finishes that move between a subtle and dramatic aesthetic.

This led us to explore “aging” limestones. Chinese limestones are unique and provocative, with saturated colors, lots of fossilization, and interesting sedimentary elements. Like granites, limestones have the density and strength to take percussive hand finishes, but are soft enough to allow surface treatments to organically reveal a complex appearance and inviting texture.

Currently Yellow Mountain StoneWorks antiqued limestones can be found in homes from Hawaii to the Hamptons. Because of its soft, nubby texture, in many cases antiqued limestone is being used for interior flooring and exterior paving.  It’s also an elegant, effective solution on walls, and for bathroom sinks, treads and risers.

“It’s been exciting to expose designers and architects to the infinite possibilities with antique finishes,” says Nicole Gelpi, Yellow Mountain StoneWorks Owner and Director of Marketing.  “By using different tools and treatments, or creating unique combinations of techniques, we can deliver customized finishes exclusive to a designer and/or a particular project.”

Waterjet Finish

The waterjet finish can be applied to our full range of Yellow Mountain granites. The most popular choices for exterior paving, cladding, wall caps and water features include Preto Carvaõ Basalt, Olive Black Granite, Dark Charcoal Grey Granite, Artesian Green Granite, Butterfly Blue Granite and Pepper Brown Granite.

Both the color and character of granite are enhanced by a waterjet finish, whereas percussive finishes (honed, adzed or bush hammer) tend to fracture the crystals or whiten the stone. Additionally, this texture results in an ideal coefficient of friction rating for pedestrian surfaces.

The waterjet (or “hydro”) finish is created by focusing an extremely high-pressure jet of water across the face of the stone. This erodes the surface, breaking crystals and opening the pores of the stone. The resulting texture is similar to a flamed finish, although not as dramatic and less destructive to the stone. The waterjet finish is not successful on stones other than granites.

One of our more dramatic projects that incorporates the waterjet finish is Myriad Gardens, a sizable botanical garden in Oklahoma City, that includes five large water features.