This week I’ve been working on a few bespoke weathervane designs, including a Bentley Continental Fastback, and a group of three Barn Owls, as shown above. I began by drawing 5 or 6 different Owls using my graphics pen, and selecting the three that fitted together best. I love how distinctive Barn Owl faces are; this will make a fantastic weathervane when the design is finished! The only problem I have with it is in highlighting the features of the face – this part of the design looks very delicate so I’ll have to thicken these lines without affecting the look of it, or it won’t be practical to cut in steel. Initially I had thought that the 3rd Owl should be a baby, but they are such fluffy little things, when I try to draw one in silhouette they end up looking like a bit of a mishapen blob! I’ve sent a couple of initial weathervane designs to the customer, so he can give some feedback and we can make any alterations before coming up with the final design.
It’s great to finally have a weathervane and house sign design based on the classic mini, hopefully in the future we can look to add the Clubman, traveller and even Wolsley Hornet/Riley Elf designs to our collection to. There can be few cars that are held in such high affection by so many people as the mini, in part due to its truly unique design and personality, along with the sheer volumes produced.
The brainchild of Alec Issigonis, who had previously designed the Morris Minor before briefly leaving BMC to work on a shelved Alvis saloon project (how history and indeed cars for years to come could have been different), the mini was a design which would revolutionise cars for many years to come.
Designed during the Suez oil crisis, the world needed a compact efficient car, Rootes group came up with the Hillman Imp and BMC the mini. With its transverse mounted engine and front wheel drive layout (almost unheard of at the time but now pretty well industry standard) Issigonis managed to make a very compact car with a very reasonable sense of space inside (though not by modern standards).
So the question then is how did a car born out of necessity during the Suez crisis gain such a following? In my opinion this is in part due to its utterly unmistakeable and British identity, it is hard now with hindsight to imagine the mini as a new cutting edge design, to in effect imagine a world without them but when you think of the cars that came before it, it truly was a revolutionary car, which changed the direction of the automotive industry forever. Then there is the way the car handled, with the compact design pushing the wheels right out in to each corner and with such minimal weight the mini out-handled all of its contemporary competitors and a great deal more. The A Series engine, though lacking in power was always willing and easily tuneable, leading to the iconic John Cooper works cars. The final factor is as mentioned earlier in the post, the number of them produced, it is estimated that there were around 5.3 million classic shape minis made between 1959 and 2000, so everyone has some memories and nostalgia linked to the mini. Like jeans they were affordable (too affordable, reportedly so much so they were accidentally making a loss for some time!) and fashionable, so people of all classes and backgrounds had them.
Sadly by the year 2000 the classic mini had had its run, keeping up with the safety and comfort of more modern machines (when though there had been changed and the engine had been updated even to include fuel injection), at the age of 41, was no longer possible and British Leyland called an end to production. It even outlived its intended successor, the sadly much less loved Metro by two years.
If you would like a mini weathervane it is available here. Alternatively if you would like a sign based on this design, or any of our products with a different mini variant (or any other car for that matter) then please fill out our online contact form and we will get in touch as soon as possible.
A bespoke sign we produced recently for a thatched cottage in Hampshire. The design is based on the cottage itself, and is mounted to a wall at the entrance to a long driveway. It’s a beautiful property so enjoyed the challenge of doing the design work. What I’ve learnt about drawing thatched roofs is that even if in a photo the roof line looks straight, it’s nowhere near as straight as the line a computer will produce, so I always make sure anything with thatch is drawn by hand or it really loses it’s character. The bespoke laser cut design also features a well, which sits in the garden of the cottage; lovely that the sign is so unique and personalised to our customer’s specification. They also chose the font I’ve used; as standard we hand paint text in ‘times new roman’, but always happy to do something different when it’s asked of us.
A bespoke swinging sign we produced recently for a Tattoo studio in North Wales. I loved this project; the company who commissioned it specialise in Celtic and Nordic tatto designs – their work is incredible. The laser cut design that forms the sign is the business logo – it’s translated perfectly into metalwork, very bold and eyecatching. The customer specified how they wanted the bracket to look, with a design involving three large hand forged scrolls, forming a roughly triangular shape to mirror the logo. I initially drew this out on the floor next to the forge, and bent the steel to follow this. I’ve used 12mm square bar so it’s relatively chunky. As the scrolls are quite tight, I needed a length of steel over 2 metres long to form the largest piece – this meant I needed a helper to stand behind me and support the long length while I heated and worked the end. We really enjoyed creating this piece, and the customer was very pleased with the result too. It’s great that we were able to reproduce the hand forged bracket exactly to the customer’s sketch, so their bespoke business sign is exactly as they wanted it.
We love the effect created by the lights behind this bespoke business sign! The piece is approx 120cm long, and the Manchester based company’s name is cut from it. I like the organic, hand drawn style of writing and the soft edges of the outer shape – I copied this on the computer using a graphics pen. The finish is a clear powder coat, which is really beautiful as it shows where the heat of the laser has lightly blued the steel when cutting the design. We’ve welded bits of steel on the back so it can be raised off the surface it’s mounted to, in order to fit the lights behind it. I think the lightbox effect works brilliantly, so is fantastic to see a photo of this bespoke piece insitu.
Just had this great photo sent in showing a Schnauzer weathervane we’ve produced recently; the angle of the sail is perfect as it shows the laser cut design so clearly, plus the lovely blue sky really helps it to stand out! We’ve done a couple of variations on this design, where customers have asked us to make minor alterations to make the Schnauzer look more like their dog, so for example we’ve docked the tail in the past, and made the dog male, or a little scruffier. So whatever your specification for a dog weathervane, feel free to contact us as we can usually accomodate most design requests at no extra cost.
A new hanging basket bracket design we’ve created recently. After uploading our Manchester Bee bracket onto the website and the various social media channels, it’s been really popular, especially locally to our workshop in Manchester, unsuprisingly. We had an enquiry from a customer who had seen this, but with no ties to Manchester themselves, wondered if we could create a laser cut hanging basket bracket design featuring a Bumble Bee. I played about with several versions of this design, but the customer chose the one with our trademark filigree that I like to doodle on many of our designs. I think the laser cut Bumble Bee has worked great as a silhouette!
A great example of a personalised weathervane, given as a birthday gift. Our customer contacted us asking if we could produce a bespoke weathervane featuring her husband and the things he loves; this included playing the guitar, fishing, walking their Border Collie, and drinking good wine. At first it seemed a little challenging as to how on earth we would fit all of these seemingly quite different interests into one image, but we did it! We’re really proud of the design, especially as these are pretty well all things we enjoy ourselves so it was a fun one to draw despite initally having no idea how to go about it. The customer and the recipient were both delighted with their personalised weathervane; she even sent us a video of her husband opening the suprise gift, which was genuinely fantastic for us to see, as we never normally get to see people’s reactions to what we have designed and made for them!
I’ve just finished painting this beautiful piece of laser cut wall art. The idea of the circle is that it represents the sun, with the birds flying in front of it. As standard this piece would be powder coated black, showing the Swallows silhouetted against the sun, but here I’ve painted the birds in full colour. I love painting swallows as they are so pretty! This piece of wall art could be mounted in a living room or garden; the finish is durable and hardwearing enough to withstand the British weather. One of our best selling weathervanes features three swallows; it’s lovely to have a reminder of them once they have migrated south for winter.
Introducing our new Manchester Bee hanging basket bracket! The worker Bee symbol has been an emblem of Manchester since the industrial revolution, denoting Mancunians’ work ethic, the sense of unity in the city and its hive of activity. We’ve used it here surrounded by a honeycomb design; a truly unique piece and a wonderful addition to any proud Mancunian’s garden! Being a few miles North of the city centre on the edge of the Rochdale canal, we’ve mounted this hand forged hanging basket bracket on our workshop. The Bee design itself is laser cut from chunky 3mm steel, and the horizontal arm is forged by hand from 10mm square bar. As always it’s plated and powdercoated, so it’s sturdy and built to last.