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Weathervanes are a fantastic way to top off a new home, or celebrate a special occasion. They can be as traditional or as unique and eccentric as you like, and with modern tecnology, they are so easy to personalise, which is one of the reasons they make such a great gift. This article is for anyone who is thinking of designing or comissioning a bespoke weathervane.
The most difficult thing about designing a bespoke weathervane is choosing the subject, simply because the choice is so vast. Common themes are Hobbies such as gardening, hunting or sports, while vehicles are a great choice for classic car or motorbikebike enthusiasts, and a favourite Pet can be perfect for an animal lover. If the local area is famous for a particular type of wildlife, this can be a really nice touch, or something to remind you of a fantastic holiday such as the Giraffe and Acacia Tree design shown below. You could also focus on the history of the area, or even the past use of the building the weathervane will be mounted on, if it is particularly interesting.
If you are thinking of buying a weathervane as a gift, why not have a bit of a brainstorming session, focusing on aspects of the person receiving the gift such as their hobbies & interests, do they have a favourite place or holiday destination? A customer recently commissioned a ‘Bear catching a Salmon’ design for his Canadian wife, to remind her of home. Does the person have a favourite book or film? Mr Toad from The Wind in the Willows is quite a popular design. If the recipient has a collection of anything this can be a great light hearted option; a great design idea was a gentleman in old fashioned dress pushing a vintage lawn mower; it was given to a man who has a collection of over 300! It does not need to be serious, it can be something to make you laugh and can be as silly as you like. Black Fox’s portfolio even includes a flying pig weathervane initially designed for a lady who just felt that she needed a bit of luck. A design I particularly enjoyed creating is shown below; our customer commissioned it for her husband, who enjoys Fishing, playing guitar, and loves his Border Collie and a nice bottle of wine - we managed to successfully incorporate all these different elements into the weathervane!
Another possibility could be based around their working life, for example an Argosy aeroplane weathervane was comissioned as a gift for a man who had flown them during the war. The Pixie weathervane as shown below was based on a customer’s business logo. Quite a funny one was a ‘Pig in a Pipe’ design, which literally showed a Pig running into a pipe, but represented the machine that cleans industrial pipes, known as a ‘Pig’, which our customer had built during his engineering career.
It’s important to ensure that the design will function – weathervanes work based on balance. The surface area needs to be much larger at the back than the front so that the sail will catch the wind and spin into it, but the weight at either end must be equal. Most ideas can be made to function as a weathervane so don’t dwell on this too much, but is worth bearing in mind.
Bold designs work best; the more different components a design has, the smaller each individual component will be. The letter bars can always be decorated with a design other than the hand forged scrolls – for example a customer recently asked for a weathervane design based on her Boat, and wanted to include her two Jack Russell dogs. Given the difference in scale, the dogs were barely visible at all aboard the boat, so they were instead cut as a separate laser cut part, and mounted on the North South bar which looked great. Another example of this is a bespoke train weathervane designed for an enthusiast; the signal box is welded to the North bar because it would have struggled to fit on the sail. There will usually be an additional cost for custom letter bars, but well worth it if you want a really personal touch that cannot be incorporated into the sail itself.
If buying the weathervane as a gift, do consider where the recipient will put the weathervane – though fixings can be swapped later, it’s best to at least have an idea of the size they will need.
The team at Black Fox Metalcraft are happy to work from as little as an idea discussed over the telephone, or as much as a computer jpeg image showing exactly what you want. There is usually no charge for design work, though the more information you can give about what you want the design to look like, the less time it will take, therefore enabling design work to remain free of charge. Rough sketches are welcome, as are images or links from the internet. Anything to help the designer get an understanding of what you are after! For those of you with an artistic side, why not have a go at designing your own?
Make sure you allow enough time. Design work is not an instant process, especially when an image goes to and fro a couple of times getting it just right. A bespoke weathervane can take four weeks to manufacture from when the design is confirmed, so make sure you contact us in plenty of time. When your ideas have been discussed, the artist will then come up with an initial design, which can be emailed over. You will then have the chance to suggest any minor alterations or improvements to the design. Don’t be too worried about offending anyone, it’s part of a designers’ job to get the artwork just right. Part of the job satisfaction we get is when we know we have created something bespoke that is exactly what a customer wanted!