Gadgets and Grindstones

I’ve always been an admirer of gadgets. A hand-pump that sucks the air out of an uncorked bottle of wine to reseal it for pouring another day is a cool gadget in my estimation. Another recent acquisition that qualifies as an awesome gadget is my new iPhone. While traveling through New Jersey not long ago I typed “museum” into the “Yelp!” app and saw that there was a Gustav Stickley Museum just off the highway. Five minutes later Elin and I were walking the grounds of the Craftsman Farms that Stickley established in 1908. He was a leading spokesman for the Arts and Crafts Movement and a furniture designer and manufacturer. The Craftsman Farms was meant to be a showcase for the “fine plainness” in art and living that he espoused. In the patio outside the main house of the museum was a stone artifact that caught my attention; a mill stone. It’s not unusual to see old grind stones re-purposed as yard ornaments but this one was unique for being made from a number of stones banded together with a steel rim. Most mill stones that I’ve seen are monolithic. Perhaps the type of stone used for this wheel was too brittle to be quarried in large blocks. I thought it was a clever way to create a large wheel from small pieces. Ingenuity is to be admired whether it’s in an iPhone or a grind stone.

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