Lutsen Lookout

It all started in the ceiling.  The huge log beams seen high up in the roof peaks are from gorgeous 80-year old white spruce trees.  They were cut down by our builder, Chad Linden from Two Harbors, MN.  Most builders prefer to work with perfectly straight lumber.  Not chad ...

The Tree Stump

A simple gas fireplace along the wall just didn't fit for Lutsen Lookout.  We needed something special that would not only provide structural support and warmth, but also add interest and a central gathering point to the great room. 

The rock which surrounds the fireplace is a natural fieldstone that you would find hiking across most fields throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.  The stone was cut in half and attached one at a time to the fireplace chase with mortar.  Many friends helped ... hauling rocks, mixing mortar, grouting and braving heights on the scaffolding.  A few rocks hit the floor, but no real damage done.

The real inspiration and beauty came during a beerstorm with our good friend Mr. Christopher Tully of Orono, Mn.  An Artist, sculptor, outdoors-man and naturalist.  Todd & Pam suggested adding some "fake logs" into the rock design and Christopher was quick to come up with this unique, one-of-a-kind design of the most amazing ceramic Cedar Tree ever!   Christopher spent countless hours with clay, epoxy and paint, first making a mini-mockup of this northern Minnesota forest representation.  We loved it right away.  The ceramic tree was painstakingly formed in his studio where he built an identical chase for this project, in order to make a perfect fit.  As his kiln is about 24" tall ... the entire tree was first formed, and then cut into 24" sections.  After each piece was glazed and fired they were hauled to Lutsen Lookout and re-assembled on site.  Each seam was filled with epoxy, as well as the entire tree covered with epoxy.  Then he used a hot torch to heat and cure the epoxy, making the structure rock hard.  Finally many hours of sanding and painting multiple coats, yielded this magnificent old cedar.

Christopher has spent most of his life tromping around forests in Norther Minnestoa and Canada and loves this area.  His representation of the northern boreal forest reminds us about why we are here.  When you're close to his work you can't help feel like you're sitting outside along one of the local trails. 

Christopher Tully can be reached via his web site at this link   He is available for projects large and small.  Just tell him you saw his work at Lutsen Lookout!

The Fireplace Story