Last week we designed and forged this boot scraper from 12 mm round bar. It’s long legs are designed to go at least a foot into the ground, therefore keeping it sturdy when in use. Each leg is welded to a piece of flat bar with a sharpened top edge. It was a little difficult making the two legs match, but pretty happy with how this has turned out. Not at all bad for something I drew in chalk on the workshop floor! This piece could easily be personalised; the central flat bar could be laser cut with any bespoke design as long as it’s still strong enough to be used, and any name or word could be punched into the metal when hot.
Love this house sign photo just sent in by a customer. It was a bespoke design we did at the end of 2016, based on a Saluki dog. He wanted an action shot rather than a standard side profile, so we came up with this design showing the dog running with two front legs in the air, expressing some of the character of this sighthound breed. I was a little concerned about the dog only having two contact points with the rest of the sign, but we cut in 3 mm steel and it’s got a decent amount of strength to it, so will be fine especially as it’s mounted flat against a wall. The hand painted house name plate looks great against the stone wall, and I’m sure will look even better over summer when the climbing plant is in full bloom.
Recently we’ve had quite a bit of demand for weathervanes larger than our standard large size of 30″ - designed to go on a standard size of two storey house. We’ve occasionally made the odd larger one in the past for mansions or large farm buildings, but the past few weeks have seen loads, so are going to add an ‘extra large’ size to the website as a standard option.
With this particular weathervane design; the Parrots (Hyacinth Macaws to be precise) were sketched by the customer, who asked us to make the design function as a weathervane, and join the two birds with some distinctive Black Fox foliage. In terms of making the weathervane function, the only things I had to do were swap the two birds around, as originally the bird with it’s wings spread was on the side with the arrow, meaning that there would not have been enough surface area at the back for the weathervane to spin into the wind. I also needed to make a minor alteration to the eyes so they would be possible to cut. In terms of finishing the design itself, I printed the Parrot drawings and just doodled around them until I had something I felt would work. I then scanned this into the computer and traced over it using our design software.
This weathervane sail measures approx 130 cm across, with the sitting bird being just over 80 cm tall, so almost life size. We got the photo of me holding it to give a sense of the scale, it weighs a ton too! It’s just under the maximum size our courier will deliver; anything larger than this and the shipping costs would get ridiculous.
A few years ago we were asked to produce a Pixie weathervane, based on a customer’s business logo ‘The Potted Pixie’. Its the middle image shown above, a fantastic photo sent in later by the customer. Its been on our blog since then, but not the online shop as it’s not our design to sell, so we re did the design in a different style – see the black & white image above. At the end of last year, a customer had seen the original Pixie online, and wanted one just like it, as they felt that our new Pixie was a bit too whymsical for their taste. Bit of a dilema as it wouldn’t be fair to sell them what is pretty much someone else’s business logo, but difficult to re design as they had already seen the one they wanted! So anyway, after quite a bit of discussion & designs going back and forth on the email, we settled on the weathervane in the top image; the customer has just sent in this great photo, another nice one to add to the gallery. We’ve used a tail on it because the Pixie is so skinny, he wouldn’t have enough surface area to catch the wind.
We’ve recently been asked to repair and replace these old & damaged weathervane sails and cardinal points. The top two, shown photographed on the ground, were bought from a county show around 30 years ago. The Hunter design was still in reasonably good condition as it had spent it’s life in a fairly sheltered location whereas the fly fisherman had been more exposed and had rusted badly before completely falling apart. In terms of materials, they were clearly of a good quality to start with as they’ve lasted this long, however they didn’t balance well due to the difference in weight at the front and back of the design, therefore may not have spun into the wind particularly well. The owner of these two weathervanes wanted us to come up with similar designs, and produce the same style of weathervane sail as a replacement (the cardinal points are apparently still in good condition so are staying put). So we’ve produced two new designs in the dinstinctive Black Fox style, to which the customer asked for a couple of minor alterations and then we were good to go. In order to get over the problem of the sails not balancing, we cut the Hunter and fisherman in 3 mm steel, but the fish and dog in 5 mm steel. This allows the animals with smaller surface area to act as an arrow, balancing the piece so that it spins into the wind. The customer had mentioned that he liked the shorter style of scrolls as shown on the original fishing weathervane, which I was able to use as a rough template when forging the new ones. Rather than using flat bar to replace like for like, we forged the new scrolls from 10mm square bar. I just did this by eye rather than spending time producing a jig; it didn’t seem worthwhile to only produce 4 scrolls. They seem to all be a pretty good match; though there was a lot of working out to do in this project, we’re really pleased with how these replacement weathervane sails look now.
The third image shows a weathervane with cardinal points designed and made by our customer 25 – 30 years ago. We actually really like the style of this; the circular design in the centre of the cardinal points looks verystylish and original, and also adds strength to the bars. While this part was in pretty good condition, the letters had all but disintigrated. The image in the bottom right corner shows what was left of the letters themselves! So the first job was to cut off the old letters, and try to strip as much of the paint from the bars as possible so it wouldnt affect the new finish. He’d clearly done a really good job of painting it as this took a combination of wire brushing, sanding, sand blasting and finally being pickled in acid for the weekend before the new letters could be welded on and the electroplate / powder coat finish applied. The original sail, also designed and cut by the customer, had been a cyclist painted bright yellow. In recent years this had rusted and fallen apart, and so needed to be completely replaced. The customer asked for a design based on Swallows, to match the sign we produced for them a couple of years ago. The photo shows the whole piece outside our workshop, ready to be plated & powdercoated.
We regularly gild the cardinal points (letters) on our weathervanes in 23.5 carat gold leaf, an optional extra that can be selected when ordering through the website. It’s a really special touch that is guaranteed to stand out and be noticed as it sparkles in the sunlight. Last week we gilded an entire laser cut Sun; at first a challenging prospect as it’s such a large, flat area with several fiddly curves and cut outs to work around. It did take ages and used an entire book of gold leaf, but think the finished result is fantastic. We’ve played about with gilding this design before, but just highlighting the rays around the edge and the arrow too.
Two different Red Kite weathervanes! The photo below shows our original Red Kite weathervane in situ, a design that’s been quite popular over the last few years. The distinctive silhouette of the bird in flight is raised off the sail by rods painted grey, so on a typical British day you cannot see them at all! Our crescent moon tail makes this a really unique weathervane. At the end of 2016 we were asked by a customer to produce a design that combined out Red Kite, plus apples or an apple tree, to be mounted on her house named ‘Appletrees’. So basically I just printed our red kite design several times and doodled around it until I was happy with the result, adding in a few apples after scanning the design back onto the computer. This design could look great with any pretty much any other tree in place of the Apple, showing the Red Kite as if flying over it. Another great one to have in the portfolio and really distictively our style.
Another bepsoke swinging sign we produced at the end of last year. The customer sent in the photo above, and asked us to design a sign to hang outside her Dutch style barn, pictured. Part of it was going to be turned into a pub so they wanted a suitable swinging sign that included a likeness of the barn. She had also asked for a background of fields, so I’ve used a bit of artistic licence and created a setting similar to that shown in the photo. I’ve tried to include the paving flags, a wooden fence at the side, and the decorative urn just near the barn. The background shows ploughed fields, rolling hills and trees, as this was how I imagined the area might look. The vine design around the top is loosely based on hop leaves and flowers; I thought this might be appropriate given the building will be used as a pub. We enjoyed the challenge of creating such a unique and personalised swinging sign!
A new style of farm sign that we were asked to create at the end of last year. Like our range of swinging signs, this piece has the text painted by hand on both sides, and is designed to mount to a post, wall or other vertical surface. However, instead of swinging from a bracket above, it is fixed in place by one bracket above and another below. It was a bit tricky to make as there is very little tolerence in the positioning of the horizontal arms; this needed to be spot on or the sign would not have fitted & took a bit of trial and error getting it right. Got there in the end and think this style will make a great addition to our range. Any of our existing swinging sign designs can be made to fit this style – it’s just a matter of taste as to which you prefer… this fixed style would make a great shop front sign as well as a traditional farm sign.
A Bespoke swinging farm sign we designed and made in the run up to Christmas. The customer lives in a historic smugglers cottage on the south coast, and having recently seen the ‘Poldark’ series on TV, wanted a sign inspired by this subject. Our initial brief was to include a figure wearing a tri-corn hat, an owl, some sort of diamond shapes, and if possible tea barrels to reflect her husbands occupation. This sounded really complex at first and I did wonder how we would fit it all in! After a bit of discussion, we came up with the idea for this night time scene, showing some smugglers bringing barrels from a small fishing boat onto the beach, watched over by a Poldark type figure in the foreground. I think the cut outs on the tea barrels & horse showing the reflection of the moonlight work really well in adding atmosphere to the scene. The customer loved the idea, and we just needed to make a few tweaks, playing about especially with the position of the Diamond shapes to come up with this final design.
The customer was delighted with the finished sign, leaving the comments below in an email:
“Thank you so much for the smugglers housesign. It is amazing and exactly what we wanted. We are really pleased with it.”
We’re thrilled to hear this as we love the design too, and are very much looking forward to the challenge of bringing more swinging sign design ideas to life in 2017!