The Millstone

The use of an old millstone as a lawn ornament is a notion that never grows old. They’re seen laid flat with flowers growing from the central axle hole, or set on edge with the lower portion buried in the ground. The mill building, where the stone once turned, may be long gone but the stone endures and remains a symbol of industry and ingenuity from times past.

The “Millstone” sculpture I recently constructed for Susan and Bob on their property in Southeastern Vermont takes its form and spirit from millstones of old. The circular outline and thick girth recalls the hand-cut stone wheels once used extensively for grinding grain here in New England. But there the comparison ends because unlike the monolithic block that an old millstone would have been cut from, this wheel is a collection of natural stone pieces held together by gravity and friction.

I fashioned a swiveling apparatus from steel pipe and rod to guide the progress of the construction. Hammer trimming was done on some stones to improve their fit. Holes were cut through three of the stone slabs with a rotary hammer-drill. The final ring of singular stones was fabricated with the help of a 14” stone saw. The process, from making the clay model to cleaning up the worksite, took about eight days.

Soon the sculpture will be incorporated into a garden design by Michaela Harlow. Susan and Bob are excited to have a new feature on their land that they can watch change with the seasons. Thanks to them for taking the leap of faith to commision a custom piece of dry stone art.

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