We designed and produced loads of bespoke weathervanes in the run up to Christmas, so thought we’d write a post showing the process involved in welding the sail. Firstly the bar is cut to size for the weathervane sail and cleaned with the angle grinder, removing any mildscale and dirt that could contaminate the weld. The customer had chosen the Celtic arrow, so this is clamped to the bench along with the bar, making sure they are straight and in line with each other.Once TIG welded on all four sides, the arrow and bar can be left to cool, which in our freezing cold workshop does not take long in December! The Irish Terrier profile is cleaned to remove any burrs from the cutting process, as is the top of the bar where the profile will be welded. This is then clamped tightly to the bench to ensure it is straight; if it’s leaning to one side the wind will catch the sail & just spin continuously rather than pointing into the wind as it should. Both sides of this are TIG welded.Once cool, we need to find the balance point on the weathervane sail. Because the arrow is cut from much thicker steel than the Irish Terrier profile, this point is usually somewhere in the centre, though it’s important to be precise or the weathervane won’t function correctly. This point is marked with chalk, and the mildscale cleaned off.A length of tube is now cut to size, and both ends cleaned to remove burrs and any grease or dirt, and finally a light sanding smooths off any grinder marks.The tube needs to be welded on at exactly 90 degrees, so we use a magnet to hold this angle while it is tacked in place. A set square is used to keep checking the angle as metal has an annoying tendency to pull one way or another as it heats and cools! It also needs to be straight in the other direction so it’s in line with the Irish Terrier profile, otherwise it would lean to one side when mounted & therefore not catch the wind properly. The photo below shows the weathervane sail welded completely, and ready to be zinc electroplated & powdercoated with whichever fixing and letter bar option the customer has chosen.
We designed and produced this beautiful bespoke house sign at the end of last year. The design features our customer’s rust coloured Border Collie lying in side profile, and the top of the oval sign is framed with an ornate Rose and Ivy design. Initially we discussed with the customer having her house name around the top of the sign and the number at the bottom, but with it being quite a long name the letters ended up tiny in order to fit, so we decided against it. The ornate Rose design came about because the dog’s name is Rosie. We think this makes the sign such a unique and personalised piece rather than just having the name, and a piece of wall art in it’s own right as well as being a functional house number sign.
The house sign is cut using a nitrogen shrouded laser in 3 mm steel, and the finish is a layer of zinc electroplate followed by a traditional looking but very hard wearing black powder coat. The customer specified an RAL code to paint Rosie the Collie which closely matches the colour of her coat, this was mixed and painted by hand in outdoor paint.
So here we have another of our new weathervanes created in the run up to Christmas, we cannot wait to get them all loaded up on to the website and for general sale. This bespoke weathervane design was done for a customer with a 1969 Lotus Elan +2, the relatively rare variant with an additional 2 smaller seats in the back, apparently there are approximately 1200 still on the road today, though this figure is somewhat vague and unsubstantiated! Hopefully we will be able to add the standard 2 seater Elan to our portfolio soon too. The customer has kindly sent in a photo of the weathervane in situ, set off with gold leaf on the cardinal points, I think the photo speaks for itself.
The challenge for us in terms of creating a silhouette to use on a sign or weathervane was capturing the essence of a car with such clean lines. Fortunately we were able to find a good selection of images of the car to work from (including a couple provided by the customer), in order to make sure we got the shape just right and didn’t miss out on any critical detail. It was a harder design to do than some older vintage cars, just due to the simplicity and smooth curves of the fibreglass body work but we are very happy with the end result.
The design brief for the car itself was to create a larger more luxurious version of the 2 seater Elan, capable of transporting 2 adults, 2 children and their luggage 1000 miles in comfort. While this made for a heavier car than the original 2 seater design Lotus still stuck to the classic Chapman design ethos of ‘add lightness’, weighing in at less than 900kg. This combined with the fibreglass body adding rigidity to the steel chassis means the Elan plus 2 maintained much of the remarkable handling characteristics which made its smaller stablemate a legendary car to drive. Not surprisingly Lotus stuck to this construction formula for many years.
Happy New Year to All! After a busier than ever Christmas, I thought I’d kick off the New Year blog with one of the bespoke weathervane designs we produced last month. The customer specified that the design shold feature two Penguins, and that they should either be Gentoo, Adelie, or Chinstrap. I chose to use Adelie Penguins, simply because their markings lend themselves better to being laser cut from steel than the other two. Given the amount of white on the Penguins, which would be cut out, we decided the profile would work better if mounted centrally on the sail, with a tail at the back to catch the wind. We added rocks to create a bit more of a scene; showing the environment you would typically see these birds in. This also had the advantage of adding a bit of strength to the wing where it touches the rock – without this it would have been a bit of a weak point. We loved creating this bespoke weathervane as the Penguins have so much character, something that I hope has come across well in the design.
We’re really proud of this stunning Dolphins weathervane, sent out this week. When the customer contacted us asking for a bespoke design featuring several Dolphins, I originally imagine the laser cut design sitting at the back of the sail. The customer had imagined it centrally mounted with a tail at the end, which meant the design I had done would have too much surface area at the front of the weathervane, meaning it would not function correctly. We’ve overcome this misunderstanding by using a larger tail than normal, so now there is enough surface area at the back of the design to catch the wind and spin the sail correctly. We love the gilded arrow and tail; it draws the eye to the playful Dolphins design, and looks really classy. Our weathervanes are gilded by hand with 23.75 carat gold leaf, and beneath this is a layer of zinc electroplate, powder coat, primer, and four coats of base layer outdoor paint so it’s an extremely solid finish that should look beautiful for many years.
Last week we made this uncomplicated yet beautiful obelisk. It consists of three uprights made from 12mm pole, tapered and forged with scrolled ends. The triangular structure is joined by lengths of 8mm square bar, with a central twist. The brief was for it to be ‘traditional looking but not too fussy’, which I think we’ve definitely acheived here. As usual it is zinc electroplated to protect against rust, and finished in a matt black powder coat, so is well prepared to withstand the worst of the North West weather! I look forward to seeing some photos of this next summer when the Clamatis has grown around it.
Our popular hand forged hooks can be customised with any laser cut design at the top, making them a fantastic personalised gift. We’ve produced loads of variations on both of the designs shown here, including several different breeds of dog, a female gardener, different plants, and the man hunting wearing all sorts of different hats! The hooks themselves are forged from 6mm round bar, with a rats tail end so they won’t snag on any clothes hung on them. The whole piece is powder coated matt black, giving a durable finish with a traditional look.
A great photo of a bespoke swinging sign we produced for ‘Black Rock Farm’. When the customer initially approached us with their design idea, I wasn’t sure how well a large rock would work in silhouette form. I drew some jagged shapes which have worked well as cut outs, highlighting where light hits the rock face, which actually has turned out to be very effective. Rather than having the bracket mounting to the side of the post, as with most of our swinging signs, we suggested having the sign hanging within a frame on top of the post, as the customer had mentioned the location being on the side of a busy main road, and with a large hedge in the background. We felt this different style of hanging bracket would give the sign the extra height it needed to be noticed.
A great personalised gift idea for any farmer with a working Border Collie – these bespoke weathervanes can be cut or painted to match the markings on their dog. All we’d need is a side on photo of the dog and then we can get to work. The stance we’ve drawn the dogs in really shows off their personality, and with them being so customisable, these weathervanes make a truly unique gift. We love the photo above, sent in earlier this year – it’s definitely a strong contender for photo of the year 2018!
A fantastic photo of our Velocette motorbike weathervane! It’s a really clear image showing the detail of the design; the spokes, the springs beneath the seat and even the engine fins are highlighted, making this weathervane design instantly recognisable to anyone who knows their vintage bikes. We can create designs for weathervanes, signs and hooks based on any motorbike – a great personalised gift for a biker. Check out our current collection at https://www.blackfoxmetalcraft.co.uk/motorcycles