The construction crew built a frame around the fireplace insert and smoke stack to accommodate the heavy field stones that my husband and I had collected from our property. From our huge pile outside (about 13 tons of stones, we were told) the masons hand selected appropriately sized rocks, wheel barreled them into the house, and laid them out on the plywood boards that protected the gypcrete.
The master mason selected whichever rock he estimated to be the best choice and either fit it in or had the apprentice cut it down, split it in half, or scrape off a sharp edge. They worked hard for about 5 weeks. It was very time consuming and they couldn’t do more than about a foot and a half in height each day so the mortar could harden. They used 90 bags of mortar in all!
We found a gorgeous cedar mantel that they set in place. We also had them mortar in a hook high enough for a large Christmas wreath to hang from, but invisible the rest of the year. Pictures don’t do this fireplace justice. Sometimes the rocks look like fake cultured stone in photos, but trust me, these are real.