Stonemason Lew French | Artisan Profile

Lew French is part stonemason, part artist, part magician. He hand-selects each stone used in his structures to make sure they fit perfectly.

By Christie Matheson

Dec 15 2013

Photo Credit : Hornick/Rivlin
Lew French

Lew French is part stonemason, part artist, part magician. And a more meticulous magician would be difficult to find. He hand-selects each and every stone used in his structures–which include fireplaces, outdoor sculptures, landscape elements, and even complete rooms–to make sure they fit perfectly. He has to, because for most projects he uses nothing other than the rocks themselves–no binding agents, no hardware, no chisels, just stone. And generally that means gorgeous New England stone, whether he’s working on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, or the coast of Maine. “There’s so much natural stone here. I love it,” says the Minnesota native, who has called the Vineyard home for 26 years. “Some of it is worn and polished beautifully clean by the water–and then a few hundred yards inland, there are stones in old farmers’ walls with lichen and interesting patina, worn and weathered in a different way.” Both have starring roles in his catalogue of completed projects, many of which appear–in images by acclaimed photographer Alison Shaw–in his 2005 book, Stone by Design: The Artistry of Lew French (Gibbs Smith). So whether or not French ever builds a stone sculpture for your house, you can witness the jaw-dropping results of his magic.

SEE MORE: Fireplace Stonework by Lew French | Photographs