Fireplace progress... The masons got the entire facade in place today. The striking will be done later this afternoon, after the mortar sets up a bit. I watched them for a couple of hours as the put the last pieces in place – finding rocks to fit the last holes was quite a laborious process, and involved a bit of grinding to knock the edges off some of them. It was a pleasure to watch these two work together. Despite the difference in age (24 and 63), they worked together like a team that had spent their whole life together.
Randy B. (the older fellow) and I are traveling to Tremonton this evening. We're visiting a rock vendor there, hoping to find us some good hearth stone. The original selection we made is out of stock now. Assuming we succeed, tomorrow the hearth will go on.
Once the mortar everywhere has had a chance to cure, they'll be finishing up with an acid wash (to remove mortar streaks) and a plain water rinse. Once that dries, they'll be applying a coat of satin finish sealer, which will make the rocks look like they're damp – and that makes the colors “pop”.
The photos below are in time order, which makes it easy to see the progress they made during the day. The last photo shows all the leftover rock we have – roughly 35 square feet worth. They need this extra in order to be assured that they can find rocks of the right size and shape as they go. It's really beautiful rock, so we're going to have to find a use for all that :)