So here is that relatively neat look mentioned in Basement V - but be prepared. It doesn't last long! This is the day before the stone masons come. We're almost ready for them. There are a couple things we'll quickly finish after we find out some last minute details. For instance, a couple of electrical outlets and an access door to the fireplace mechanical panel must be placed where he can work around them. We'll quickly finish that while they carry in supplies.
The mantle is a 5.25 inch slab of hardwood from northern Michigan.
OK here's the mess again.
Stone masonry is new to me but after watching it for a few hours now, I'd like to give it a go sometime. First a layer of tar-paper gets stapled on as a vapor barrier. Next, a wire mesh is cut to fit and tacked in place. Finally, a mortar mix is spread over the wire with a grooved trowel. This leaves a rough surface and is left to dry at least overnight. Tomorrow with a fresh batch of mortar, he will carefully look for stones that compliment each other in size, shape and color, then "butters" the back side of the stones and stick them in place.
My story got ahead of the photos.
Right now, the boxes of stones have been opened with the hope they will dry out some overnight. They have been stored outside and snow got in easily enough but now that they are at room temperature the water doesn't escape quite so easily.