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Knap: To Chip Rock

Articles: Knap: To Chip Rock

View up a flight of stairs in Mike Knapp’s masterpiece, with nooks, ledges, and plant pockets in the dressed granite stonework. Photographs by author

The concept of Homo faber (“a maker of things”) seems appropriate to describe Mike Knapp and Jim DuBois, stonemasons who have worked in Seattle with their hands, hearts, and brains. Like ballplayers, they used all three to hit homeruns, and their RBIs (gardens designed and built) are off the charts. Using stone-rich paths and walls, they have created windows and doorways into landscapes, and drawn our eyes to the simple beauty of horizontal and vertical surfaces. As a painter of outdoor subjects, I can well understand that one of the biggest challenges is organizing space from an array of possibilities; framing either makes or breaks a composition.

I am intrigued by how important hard surfaces are in the design of a garden, both in focusing our attention and organizing space. The walls commissioned by neighbors, both on 16th Avenue NE and in the Wallingford neighborhood, knit together communities, rather than separating them.

Both Mike and Jim are West Coa...

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