We were recently asked to produce a weathervane design based on our customer’s two little girls and their Lurcher dog. She said in her initaly email that the children and their dog are very fond of each other, and she wanted to commemorate their wonderful relationship. She had provided a decent side on view of Harry the dog, so this part of the design was fairly straightforward, with only a minor alteration to his tail needed. Drawing the two girls was a little more complex, though she was able to give a good description as to what she wanted the image to look like, which helped, and some photos of the children gave me a clear idea as to how they dress, their hair and their size in relation to each other. It was just getting their positioning and interaction with each other, and with Harry the Lurcher looking right that was challenging; having their dresses hanging naturally and their arms at an angle that appears normal is more challenging than you might think when there is no photo to copy! The most difficult part was drawing their curly hair; I needed to make it obviously wavy as it’s quite distinctive of them, but in silhouette form it was difficult to make it work without looking like a tangled mess!
The customer had selected the Celtic style arrow and scrolls under the cardinal points, see photo above. She’d also chosen the gilded letters option; there’s an image above showing the end of this process where I’m brushing off the excess gold leaf with a very fine paintbrush. Finally a great photo of the weathervane insitu at the top of this post; timing was very important as the family had scaffolding up while some work was being carried out at their property so they needed the weathervane delivered before it came down, which we did manage to do in the end. A truly unique and personalised weathervane design, and a wonderful way to celebrate a happy memory of two young children and their pet dog.
A fantastic photo sent in by a customer this week, the angle is perfect as you get a great view of the laser cut design as well as the cardinal points! We designed this Austin 7 Ulster weathervane based on images he provided, and he is delighted with the results. We’ve actually produced several different Austin 7 weathervanes now, (you can read about the others in this blog post we wrote last month) so were pleased to add this 1930s two seater sports car to the range. In his email our customer commented on the quality of our work, which makes all the effort worthwhile as we do take a lot of pride in doing beautiful little TIG welds!
“I also wanted to comment on the quality of the welding and overall finish. At one time I used to manage a fabrication shop and, although they were certainly functional, not that many of the welders could manage to achieve such visually good welds as those on the wind vane.”
This time last year we undertook an epic journey, driving our 93 Fiat Panda (which had previously been off the road for some time) from Manchester to Saint Petersburg and back. Along the way it was great to see the changes in architectural styles, going up through Sweden and Finland, in to Russia, then back through the Baltics and Northern Europe.
Obviously we have a special interest in decorative metalwork (for which Saint Petersburg certainly did not disappoint), especially weathervanes. Though there were some great examples on the whole trip (some of which I may get round to posting on here one day), especially on the Russian Orthodox churches, one place really stood out for weathervanes and that was Gdansk.
We only spent 2 nights in Gdansk but it is definitely on the list of places we would love to revisit and spend more time. Its historic centre was virtually levelled during the Second World War and faced with the choice of recreating the original town or starting afresh the decision was made to rebuild, based on historic photos, documents and plans. They did make some changes to make the buildings more practical, indeed the roads now have bigger public garden spaces between them. By drawing rooms level in neighbouring buildings more practical flats were created and on top of all of these reconstructions are dated weathervanes!
Weathervane fitted to medieval crane in Gdansk
On the docks one of the most recognisable landmarks of Gdansk is the medieval crane, and it has this iconic weathervane on top. It is unusual in Gdansk as most of the weathervanes are the more traditional banner types, seen in the image below.
Traditional banner style weathervanes in Gdansk
I think this is a great way to recognise the dates that the buildings were completed, a weathervane is in my opinion the perfect way to top off a new building in style.
A great photo we’ve just received from a customer showing our Rock n roll dancers weathervane insitu. They had seen our Charleston weathervane online, and contacted us to see if we could make some changes, which as usual we were happy to do at no extra cost. These are the only two dancing themed weathervanes we’ve created so far, but would love to extend our portfolio on this theme! It would make a great personalised gift for anyone who shares this hobby, as we can create a design based on any style of dance.
An interesting project we’ve been working on recently is this sign for a cottage in Cornwall. It is written into the deeds of the house that this sign must remain on the front of the property above the door, and given that it has been up for many years in a coastal location, many parts of the house sign had given in to rust, and the multiple layers of paint had taken away the sharpness of the design. The image below shows a close up of the old sign.Initially the customer had asked us to restore it, but given the fragility of the sign we felt we would be unable to do it justice, so decided it would be best all round to make an exact replica. So the first job was to photograph the sign, upload it onto the computer and trace the design. This was a lot more complex than it sounds, firstly because of the level of detail in the design, and secondly because of how the layers of paint had built up over the decades, some of this detail had been lost and as a result there was a little bit of guesswork involved. But after some minor alterations pointed out by the customer, we were ready to laser cut the house sign design. We’ve used 3mm steel, which is thicker than what was used originally so this should give it a longer lifespan.
The next stage was to fabricate the wavy scrolled border. We’ve used 13x3mm flat bar, which as far as I can tell is what was used initially. Though there was nothing difficult about the shapes we needed to forge, it took a lot of trial and error getting the full length of each piece to be the exact right size to all meet in the corners. I really enjoyed this process as it involved using the oxy propane torch which we don’t often have a reason to play with! We have then drilled holes in the troughs for the rivets to fit through, plus corresponding holes in the hidden square bar frame, before welding all the pieces together and fixing the rivets in place.
Though parts of this job were fiddly and time consuming, we feel we’ve been sucessful in producing a replica that’s as close to the original as is possible. Here is the house sign all welded up and ready to be electroplated and powder coated.And the finished piece, ready for collection!
We created this bespoke weathervane in time for St Davids day last year. Our customer commissioned the design for her tenth wedding anniversary; they were married on the Welsh saints day so wanted the weathervane design to reflect this. She asked us to keep the design fairly simple as her husband does not like anything with too much fuss.
I couldn’t imagine a bunch of Daffodils welded to the weeathervane sail working particularly well aesthetically; plus done this way a lot of the design might have ended up with weak points due to thin stems and large flower heads. So we felt a banner style weathervane would work best in this case, as a simple Daffodil motif could be cut from the sail. With this style of weathervane we often use hand forged scrollwork for a traditional look, but in this case we felt that this would make the design too ornate as simplicity had been specified. We’re really happy with the result, and fantastic to see such a great photo of the finished piece in situ.
When the time came to dispatch this weathervane last year, we were in the middle of a massive snowstorm and everything, especially courier services, had ground to a halt. Timing had been fairly tight on this bespoke design anyway, and we needed to meet the deadline of St David’s day. We did consider driving it down to our customer ouselves as I think she’s only about an hour or so from Manchester, but thankfully the following day the weather had eased off a little and the courier was able to deliver in time!
We just thought we would write a post about a couple of the new designs we have done as bespoke weathervanes for customers. These two motorcycle designs are a nice contrast, with the simplicity of the Panther M100 and the VFR800, with its fully faired wind tunnel design. While we have created both of these designs for weathervanes, now we have done the design work we could incorporate them into a sign or even a hanging basket bracket! Generally getting a design done based on a vintage bike is much easier than more modern faired bikes as, with all their components exposed, there is much more definition in silhouette. The key with the VFR was picking out the distinctive lines without making it look like there are holes in the bike!
The Panther model 100 has become a popular choice as a classic bike, with the very characteristics which made it less desirable when new really lending themselves towards making a great classic bike. While its long stroke 600cc single cylinder was not as ‘exciting’ as some of the multi cylinder bikes of the same era its lazy characteristics, along with reliable overhead valves makes it the perfect choice for bumbling along country lanes. Besides there are plenty of more modern machines out there for those that want something a little more lively. The M100 was in production from 1932-1967, with the earlier bikes (like this one) having a rigid frame, so no suspension on the rear!
The VFR800 we based this weathervane on is very much at the other end of the scale in terms of performance, though it is very popular as a touring bike. The Honda V4 engines fitted to the VFR has (other than very early on when ‘chocolate cams’ was an issue) a legendary reputation for reliability and has great performance and a very distinctive engine note. This particular model was the first 800, where the change was made from carbs to fuel injection, along with having radiators mounted on both sides, rather than the previous 750 models, completely changing the style of the bike. Unlike the Panther the VFRs were recognised as classics from the off, winning countless accolades as bike of the year and proving the perfect balance between performance and comfort.
Despite these bikes representing different ends of the motorcycle spectrum they are both bikes I would love to have in my garage, though in terms of the Honda I do have a soft spot for the last VFR750 built from 1994-1997… fingers crossed someone will ask us to make a sign or weathervane based on one soon!
We’ve produced a fair few different custom hanging basket brackets recently, as the days get longer and we head into spring. Here’s a great example of a bespoke design featuring a Jack Russell dog and a Rabbit; it’s fairly simplistic in it’s style, so would be easy to personalise in terms of swapping in a different breed of dog for example. The customer requested these two as she has both as pets – a great idea for a personalised gift for anyone who loves their garden. The hook is forged by hand from 10mm square bar, and the whole piece is electroplated to prevent rust, before being finished in a traditional looking but very durable black powder coat. Click this link to check out our current range of hanging basket brackets, and contact us to discuss your bespoke design ideas.
Yes, somehow it’s April already and we are only just getting round to choosing our photo of the year from 2018. We had so many photos of our weathervanes and signs sent in last year, making the decision all the more difficult! Here are some of our favourites. There is so much variety in them, which is fantastic to see. The weathervanes always look great with a bright blue sky behind them as they stand out so well and show off the often intricate laser cut design work, however we also love the amazing wintery scene of the Crows weathervane. And what a beautiful sunset shown highlighting our sheep and collie farm sign! Many of these signs and weathervanes are bespoke designs; the four witches springs to mind as being one that we are particularly proud of, largely because it was so challenging but the amount of work we put into it is reflected in the sucess of the totally unique, personalised and fun design. It’s also great to see some of our popular designs featuring, such as the crows weathervane and the sheep and collie farm sign. A very tough call!