What’s with the name?

Have you wondered why I chose The Mills of Abstraction as my business name?

You aren’t alone. From my parents to my architecture colleagues, from friends to strangers, people are curious. (probably like 4 people…)  They have been wracking their brains, losing sleep, and fraught with curiosity (about entirely other topics).   And I am here to, once and for all, tell you the story behind the name (because that’s what the internet it for: cat pictures and information we sort of care about).

Okay, enough sarcastic asides, let’s get down to business.

Business names, that is.

Let’s go back to 2015 where the story begins.

I was in a class that year, my final year of college, called Mapping Time and Space.  I was also working on my architecture thesis.  I had a long-standing fascination (some may call it obsession) with time.  Theories of time, ways of conceptualizing time, poetic ways to write about time. (Which actually can take us back to 2011 when I first started college, when I read Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman, when I devoted my Honor Residential College (HRC) required blog to the topic of time. Or, it can take us back to those nights as a child when I was trying to fall asleep, but simultaneously trying to imagine the concept of eternity/my lack of consciousness before being born/heaven and hell… What can I say, I was a weird kid.  Plus my grandpa died when I was young and I think that had me thinking deeper thoughts than most 8 year olds…ANYWAY…) I actually still think and write about the concept of time occasionally. But, back on topic, during that class I was introduced to a thing called Roget’s Thesaurus.

If you haven’t heard of it before, it is basically a combination of a dictionary and a thesaurus. Merriam-Webster describes it here:

roget at merriam

First of all, I love the concept of starting with an idea and then finding the word to match. I mean, isn’t that what so much of life and art is about?  We have these experiences and emotions and ideas and then search to find the best way to express them, the best words to describe them, the best colors to depict them. We are forever looking for how we can we bring people in to our subjective experience (and how we can relate to theirs); how we can convey this thing that is inherently personal and inexpressible. We not only want to have the experience, we want the connection to others that comes from expressing it.

Again, I digress.

So, the first section in Roget’s Thesaurus is titled ‘Abstract Relations’, and the sixth subsection is for ‘Time’.  Hence the name of my second blog (after the required one in the HRC): abstractrelationsvi.  For anyone who cared enough, was curious enough, or had a ton of time on their hands, I had (and still have) an image in the menu of that blog meant to be a sort of origin story of the blog name:

time abstractrelationsvi sketchbook

Basically, this is an image comprised of all of the layers of my thesis sketchbook, overlaid with an image of the table of contents from Roget’s Thesaurus. It is, in an of itself, a time lapse.  An amalgamation of not only that year of my life, but the prior years that had influenced those drawings.

SO, that was where this all started.

Then, more recently when I decided I was going to do freelance architecture work and publish my own children’s book I decided I needed an official business name.  A name that rolls off the tongue more easily than AbstractRelationsVI.  A name that encompasses not just the darker, deep-thinking, conceptual, time-obsessed side of my personality, but the light-hearted, creative, child-loving, making side as well.

I have an Etsy shop called The Making Mill (using my married last name: Mills) and my thought was that I could somehow bridge the gap between the two names, that had come to represent these two interwoven, yet conflicting sides of myself.

(Note: This was written pre-divorce, when my last name was still Mills. I go by Megan Amato again as of 2020, but the business name remains.) 


Mills: for the concrete, the creation, the making, the producing, the physical me (it’s my last name after all)


Abstraction: for the ideas behind the creations, the concepts of beauty, art, and design, the drawings that are by nature abstractions of the things they are meant to represent (a line is not a wall or a window, but an abstraction of one)

The things I make range in their place on the physical/abstract scale,

|  Pottery
|  Photography
|  Illustration
|  Collage
|  Writing
|  Ideas 

and I exist on a spectrum.  From my brain to my hands, with my heart and emotions somewhere in between.  From my physical body to my abstract idea of self and consciousness. From thinking to making.

Thus, The Mills of Abstraction was born.

I have many more thoughts on the matter, but your time is valuable and reading from a screen is rather miserable in my opinion so I will stop here, but I am always open to talking more, explaining the nuances behind my ideas, hearing about your thoughts, or seeing your creations.  (Also, the fact that the word abstraction comes from a Latin verb meaning “draw away” is incredibly interesting to me, specifically in how it relates to my business name… Or Scott McCloud’s triangular diagram of the relationship between The Picture Plane, Reality, and Meaning… But I fear I have already been a bit too cerebral in this post…)

So, now that your curiosity has been quenched, you may go in peace and we will return to our regularly scheduled programming.

As always, thanks for reading!



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