Hey, everybody – Cornelius here! For today’s blog, I wanted to introduce you to my new friend and coworker, Eva Mergen, who has joined Newlin Grist Mill as the historic carpenter and maintenance assistant. Eva started with us last September and has been working on some really cool things!
Cornelius: How did you discover Newlin Grist Mill?
Eva: I was working on a project on millstones for a master’s program in experimental archaeology that I was in and came to get information from Tony [NGM Executive Director] on the use and maintenance of millstones.
Cornelius: What is your job at NGM?
Eva: I am the carpentry and maintenance assistant. I do a lot of woodworking using both historic and modern techniques.
Cornelius: That sounds really cool! How did you learn all of those skills?
Eva: I learned basic woodworking skills from my father as a child. He always gave me the leftover scraps of wood, and I could do whatever I wanted with them. Then when I was a teenager, I spent many hours in my grandfather’s workshop learning how to use many different kinds of power tools like a lathe and a drill press. As an adult I got interested in historic woodworking and started experimenting with historic hand tools. A lot of what I know, especially about historic woodworking techniques, comes from reading books and watching videos.
Cornelius: How did you get into your line of work?
Eva: I have done historic textile demonstrations for over twenty years. I started out doing them in schools and for community events, but that eventually led me to working in museums and living history sites.
Cornelius: What has been your favorite task so far?
Eva: Replacing the fireplace window seat in the Trimble House kitchen was a really fun challenge. The edges had to be cut to fit tightly around the stones, and it was fun to try to get it all to fit as closely as possible. I had done other projects in the past where I had to do a little bit of cutting around odd shapes, but this was the most complicated project of that kind that I have done, and I am quite pleased with how it turned out.
Cornelius: Do you have any projects you are really looking forward to?
Eva: I am really excited about the rebuilding of the log house! I have always been fascinated by log construction so it will be a lot of fun to get to see a log building go up.
Cornelius: Do you have a favorite part of the site?
Eva: I really enjoy the mill because I have always been fascinated by machines, and I love all the wooden gears and how all the different parts work together. But, I also really love the dawn redwood grove because they are one of my top three favorite trees, and I love standing amongst so many of them.
Cornelius: What kind of hobbies/interests do you like for when you aren’t at work?
Eva: One of my favorite activities is driving oxen! I don’t really get to do it right now, but I hope to get back to it in the future. Oxen have a wonderful temperament, so calm and gentle but also amazingly powerful! Unlike horses that are controlled by reins, oxen are controlled by body language and voice commands so it can feel very much like a kind of working dance.
Cornelius: Last but not least, do you have a favorite animal?
Eva: I already talked about oxen, but my favorite wild animal would probably be either an owl or an octopus. I love how silently owls can fly, and their sounds make winter nighttime walks so magical! Octopuses are creative and intelligent, and I am in awe of how well they camouflage and can contort to fit into almost any space!
You can find Eva out and about on the grounds while she is going from building to building to work on different projects. She loves to talk to people about the site, so feel free to stop for a chat if you want!
P.S. Don’t forget to stop by my tank in the Visitor Center to say hi to your friendly neighborhood corn snake too!