A work in progress this week; a set of hand forged coat hooks with a personalised design. The hooks themselves are forged from 6mm round bar, using traditional blacksmithing techniques on our coal forge, while in contrast the personalised design I’ve drawn is cut using the most up to date laser technology. The bespoke design itself features our customer’s dog; she sent us several photos of him so I was able to come up with a drawing that looks exactly like him. It’s a gift for her husband who loves gardening, hence the man with spade – this was something else she had specified.
We’ve just sent out this hanging farm sign with a bespoke, personalised laser cut design. The customer emailed us photos of himself, his wife and dog, and also their house and tractor so we could try to fit them all into a bespoke design! Having clear images of the individual elements was really helpful, but still quite complex to fit everything together and get the perspective right so the house looks as though it’s in the background. In the end though we’re really happy with how it has turned out. We always welcome bespoke comissions for those who cannot find the right sign in our existing range of swinging farm signs.
A great photo of our George and Dragon weathervane insitu, a perfect gift for any proud English person. I’ve painted the St George’s Cross on the shield by hand, and gilded the Dragon’s tongue, tip of his tail and the tip of the spear to match the letters. This helps the weathervane to stand out beautifully; the customer is absolutely thrilled with it. A truly unique piece!
We now have a large number of weathervane designs available on our website but always welcome bespoke comissions.
A laser cut metal house sign we designed and manufactured recently. The nature of this style of sign means that they are always bespoke one off pieces, as the house name is cut in steel so there is no way of producing a standard model. We’ve produced the sign with various breeds of dog in the centre, such as this Labrador design and also Deer and other wildlife. It’s a lovely sign as it’s so well set up for being personalised – this would make a great housewarming gift. As the design is drawn on a computer, the customer was able to see it before placing her order, and make minor alterations once I had drawn the initial design, so it’s nice that they are part of the design process too. In this case, she had sent me a photo of her dog (a Labrador cross, with spectacularly big ears!) so the process was fairly straightforward.
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. We look forward to having another owl weathervane design to add to our existing owl and moon weathervane and owl hunting weathervane designs.
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 if you cannot find a weathervane suitable amongst our dog designs, whatever your specification, feel free to contact us as we can usually accomodate most design requests at no extra cost.