Monday, January 26, 2009


In the summer of 1998 Tom and I went on vacation to northern Virginia and Washington, DC. While in northern Virginia, we visited an old mill. I could tell that Tom was fascinated by all of the machinery and took great interest in seeing just how the mill worked. I am sure that visit to the mill is what sparked him to suggest that we build a mill for our contest entry.....because we had decided to enter the HBS contest again. Most of the spare time in the fall was taken up by our planning and building the grist mill. We used nails in a jar of vinegar (which took a couple of weeks to develop into the aging liquid that I used on the mill) .Meanwhile Tom was building the basic structure of the building. HBS had again selected the roomboxes for the contest and this time we used the single box with another single on top for the second floor. We built the mill floors and Tom worked on the mill wheel and spillway. Eventually, we got around to making the millpond....our first experience with two part resin and we were pleased with the results.

While Tom was making all of the gears and cogs, I was aging the mill structure and then I started to do the landscaping. I have to say that Tom was very precise in making the machinery that made the mill run. All of the systems actually worked. There was an electrical switch in the back of the first floor and when that was turned on, the mill wheel turned, the cogs on the first floor turned and the millstone on the second floor actually turned. Of course, it didn't really grind the flour, but then again, we didn't actually try to see if the millstones would grind. I would not be surprised if they did. Now for some pictures of our mill.As a postscript I have to write that once again I received a phone call at the office telling me that Tom and I had won the 1998 Grand Prize. I was thrilled, of course and enjoyed all of the treasures and supplies that the winnings provided. We haven't tried to enter the contest since and I do wonder if we could actually find the right inspiration for another try at that wonderful contest. To those who recently won the latest contest, I salute you. I know how exciting it can be!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Here are two pictures of the cottage interior. I will end this now, but before I do I have to say that with this little cottage, Tom and I won the Grand Prize in the 1995 HBS contest. The phone call came into my office and just made my day.....and with the winnings I got my Thornhill which was shown just before I started to write about the cottage.


As I mentioned in my November post about HBS, I was intrigued by their first contest and so I entered it. I didn't win, but did come in third. In 1995 they had a second contest and I was again eager to enter. As they had done in the previous year, the project was to be done in one of three boxes that they offered, a single room, a side by side roombox or a two story roombox. I chose the side by side roombox and started to build my 'modified English cottage'. Of course I enlisted Tom's help in building my house. I told him what I wanted and asked him to do the heavy sawing that I could not handle. I explained that I wanted a small cottage with a high pitched roof; something that looked as English as we could make it. As we worked on the little house, problems came up, but were fairly quickly solved. The cottage was to be a two story and I told Tom that I wanted a staircase that was small and didn't take up too much space. The staircase was easily achieved and then we had to decide how to fit in the necessary rooms on the second floor. As mentioned before, this was to be a small cottage; just for two people, but we needed a bedroom and a bath. Tom suggested making wall dormers which allowed for more space on the second floor and a ceiling higher than there would have been if just a regular dormer had been used. This all worked out so well that we had space for a second floor deck, something that is rarely found in an English house......but I did say that it was a 'modified' English cottage.

The other requirement I had was that this was to be an oceanside cottage and my landscaping had to create that illusion. I didn't know what to use to simulate a rocky terrain, but I had heard talk of the wonders of styrofoam so I started with blocks of that. When I had the foundation high enough, I covered all of the styrofoam with Sculptmold, smoothed it all out and got ready to paint the rocks by using various shades of grays and browns. Surprisingly enough the rocks started to look like rocks and I started to landscape my rocky terrain. Before going any further, I will add a few pictures to show what the cottage looks like on the outside.