All my Cottage Mills® are beautiful, but a few stand out, either because of their rarity, or because of the story behind the piece. Here they are:
World Record Pepper Mill
Completed in 2005, this solid maple pepper mill stands 4 metres 10 cm (13 feet, 5-3/4 inches), and weighs over 136 kg (300 lbs). And yes it actually works!
It's made from maple. Fire scarred maple.
Sometime around 1992, just south of where I live, flames from a forest fire burnt one side of a branch of a tree. The sap wood burnt away in certain areas, exposing the heart wood. The tree ended up surviving, healed itself, and continued to grow. Over the years the scarring tissue on the branch built up around the heart wood, and turned the branch into an amazing piece of Mother Nature's art.
The branch eventually fell naturally, and I carefully and methodically transformed it into a stunning 18 inch pepper mill.
As a volunteer firefighter, this one is near and dear to my heart.
There is only one. There will never be another mill like it!
Boyd 18" Cherry Mill
A treasured cherry tree came down and instead of burning the wood, a branch was brought to me to turn into a pepper mill. After putting it through a 6 month process to stabilize the wood, I peeled off the bark, and to my surprise found the most amazing and largest "butterfly" bug track pattern.
There's a certain type of bug that gets under the bark, and lays eggs as it chews its way along the branch. After the eggs hatch, the tiny bugs themselves chew their way under the bark, making their own tracks perpendicular to the original track.
These are common in Elm, but on a much smaller scale. I've never seen anything like it before or since. This picture doesn't do it justice.
The Angry Mill
When I first came across this piece of wood, I immediately noticed the feature on it looked like and angry mouth, with its lips curled, and the heart wood cracked vertically to look like teeth. With a little carving and some "eyes", it earned its spot in the Hall of Fame.
Deer Chewed Willow
In the spring, when there's little vegetation for the deer to eat, they resort to chewing off the bark of fallen willow trees.
Of the 15,000 Cottage Mills I've made, only about 10 are made from willow that has been chewed by deer. This one is the most dramatic.