Bespoke House Sign

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.Close up of rusty signInitially 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! photo of blacksmithing using an oxy propane torchWe 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.close up of metalwork  metalwork

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.restored sign completeAnd the finished piece, ready for collection!House Sign Photo bespoke House Sign IMage

Motorbike Weathervanes

 

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!

Motorbike weathervane image

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!

motorcycle weathervane

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!

 

Custom Hanging Basket Bracket

Hanging basket bracket imageWe’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.

Metalcraft Photo of the Year 2018

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!Farm Sign Photo Weathervane photos weathervane photos

Fell Pony and Spaniel Weathervane

Weathervane ImageA bespoke weathervane we designed and manufactured to the customer’s specification at the end of last year. It’s a really personalised design as it features two of her pets; a Fell Pony and cocker spaniel. We’ve produced plenty of different Spaniel weathervanes so that part of the design was pretty well there – I think I just altered the dog’s tail slightly to match her spaniel. The Fell Pony took a little more work as I couldn’t find a good quality image from the right angle, so this part of the design went back and forth a few times via email in terms of getting the muscular build (they are a fairly tough, working breed originating in the fells of Cumbria) just right. We also made a few alterations to depict the shaggy mane and forelock, so it’s a really distinctive silhouette -as always at this point we were happy to be guided by the customer, as she knew exactly how she wanted it to look. We love the end result; it’s great that the design is so personal to our customer.

Farm Animals Weathervane

We love this bespoke weathervane design based on our customer’s animals. When she contacted us and described her idea, I thought it was quite a lot to fit into one weathervane sail, but wanted to make sure we were able to show some of the personality of the individual animals and felt it was important to have them interacting a little as a group. I know from experience how mischeivious goats can be so knew he needed to be causing trouble somewhere, and with the curious nature of Spaniels and the intelligence of Pigs, I’ve placed them looking up at the Donkey as if to say ‘aren’t you going to do something about this?!’

We can create designs based on any group of animals at no extra charge; it’s a great way to give a truly personalised gift to an animal lover.Weathervane photo

Hand Painted Lambretta Weathervane

Lambretta Weathervane Lambretta Weathervane IMageWe’re really proud of this bespoke hand painted Lambretta scooter weathervane we produced back in January. It’s a wedding present for our customer’s daughter as both her and her now husband are big Lambretta fans. When our customer comissioned the weathervane, he provided us with some good quality photographs of the scooter, and also of the couple dressed in their mod style riding clothes so I had a very good idea of what the finished product needed to look like. There’s a huge amount of detail on the bike, all of which I wanted to capture! It was extremely time consuming, but as the photos I worked from were a decent quality, I was able to zoom in and copy it all. The difficulty was in putting the right clothes on the rider and pillion, and getting them in the exact right position, it genuinely did take ages but once we’ve taken on a job we always make sure it’s done to the best of our ability. A fantastic and truly personalised wedding gift, I know the customer is delighted and hope the recipients will be too.

Vintage Sunbeam Car Weathervane

Vintage Car weathervane imageAnother bespoke vintage car weathervane, this time featuring a 1913 sunbeam drophead tourer, with a gentleman in front waving a flag. This was actually a legal requirement from 1865 until around the turn of the century; it was used to warn people that a car was approaching! Though the Sunbeam featured is actually slightly later than this, and the rule was in effect at a time when internal combustion engines were rare, it’s a great feature to add to the weathervane as a reminder of this now very bizarre seeming law from the history of motoring.

The Sunbeam Motor Company began making bicycles in 1888 in Wolverhampton, and cars from 1901.The company went into receivership in 1934 as a result of unpaid debts dating back to the motor racing season ten years earlier, and was then bought by the Rootes brothers who ceased manufacturing their cars. Around 5000 of the 12/16hp cars were made, with approximately 70 surviving today, many of which are active in Veteran Car Club events.

This is probably the oldest car weathervane design we’ve produced so far, so is a great one to add to the collection – we look forward to producing a weathervane based on an even earlier model soon!

Vintage Sewing Machine Weathervane

Sewing weathervaneAnother totally unique weathervane design to add to our collection! This one depicts a vintage sewing machine with fabric blowing in the wind. Initially the customer contacted us asking to have a lady sat on the bar sewing; this was to be a gift for his sister who is a retired seamstress. I drew the design as described and though we were relatively happy with it, I think having the lady in there made the sewing machine proportionally too small, and it was difficult to get the angle and perspective right where the beautiful detail of the vintage machine was visible while also looking right with the way the lady was sat. So after discussing it with the customer, we opted to just have the sewing machine larger on the weathervane sail, and with some flowing fabric blowing in the wind. The sewing scissors were a later addition suggested by the customer; we tried various ways of fitting them onto the sail, but it never really looked right so we cut four and welded them beneath the letter bars in place of scrolls instead. It’s always a lot of work producing a design that is personalised to this extent, but I’m so glad we persevered with it as it’s so totally unique to the customer, and as the vintage sewing machines are so beautiful it was well worth taking advantage and making the most of this with our design.

Bespoke Laser Cut Sign

Laser CUt Giraffe SignWe love this bespoke laser cut sign we produced recently! The customer contacted us with a clear idea in mind as to what they wanted their house sign to look like, and so with such a definite brief, the bespoke design was fairly straighforward.The markings on the Giraffe were a little complex to work out, as I’ve actually simplified it quite a bit so the laser cut design wouldn’t be too delicate, but we still wanted it to look realistic and not cartoony. The name Kisima means ‘watering hole’ in Swahili, and though I’m not sure of the significance of this for the customer, I love the design as it’s quite a contemporary style but with a traditional look to it.