Though these days the Beetle is more often remembered fondly as a car of the swinging sixties, it was initally designed in pre WW2 Germany by Ferdinand Porsche, at the request of a Mr Hitler. It needed be a ‘car of the people’; to seat two adults and two children, with space for their luggage, and cruise at 60mph. Importantly, it also needed to be affordable, and could be purchased through a savings card system. By the time the second world war broke out in 1939, only a handful of consumer cars had been produced, and all customer orders had been cancelled as production was switched from civilian vehicles to that of military vehicles. One of these was an amphibious vehicle, delightfully named the ‘Schwimmwagen’.
A fantastic photo sent in by a customer this week, the angle is perfect as you get a great view of the laser cut design as well as the cardinal points! We designed this Austin 7 Ulster weathervane based on images he provided, and he is delighted with the results. We’ve actually produced several different Austin 7 weathervanes now, (you can read about the others in this blog post we wrote last month) so were pleased to add this 1930s two seater sports car to the range. In his email our customer commented on the quality of our work, which makes all the effort worthwhile as we do take a lot of pride in doing beautiful little TIG welds!
“I also wanted to comment on the quality of the welding and overall finish. At one time I used to manage a fabrication shop and, although they were certainly functional, not that many of the welders could manage to achieve such visually good welds as those on the wind vane.”
Another 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!
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.
We love this photo sent in by a customer! Partly because it’s a great photo but also because the design is so funny & unusual; was certainly a challenge designing it. Our customer had asked for a weathervane featuring a vintage Sunbeam motorcycle, and wanted the scene to show a windy day. We tried a few ideas, none of which I was entirely happy with, so we ended up adding the comedy element of the rider struggling to stay on his bike. We’ve put a lot of work into the detail of this design; for example we have tried to keep the rider’s clothing in keeping with the age of the bike, ie a flat cap, scarf and boots rather than modern safety gear and helmet. It’s great to be able to personalise a weathervane down to details like this as you end up with something truly unique.
Check out our current range of motorcycle weathervanes on the link below; we are always happy to work out bespoke designs at no extra cost. https://www.blackfoxmetalcraft.co.uk/motorcycles
One of the more unusual weathervane designs we’ve done! The customer wanted us to create a weathervane based on a vintage Sunbeam motorcycle being ridden on a windy day. Initially we tried ideas such as trees blowing & a signpost bending in the wind, and even a cartoon cloud physically blowing towards the motorcyclist. In the end though, we felt that that all of this took away from this very cool vintage motorbike, so decided to keep the bike and rider alone. Having the rider hunched down trying to avoid the worst of the weather didn’t seem to get the point across very clearly, so decided to add a bit of a comedy element to the design. The customer loved it so this is what we’ve gone for!
Our Austin 7 weathervane! We love these litte cars and were delighted when someone commissioned the design. We had produced an Austin 7 weathervane in the past; it was designed largely by the customer in a 1930s sort of cartoon style, with a policeman stood at the front stopping the car. Though it looked very cool, it wasn’t our design to sell, so hasn’t been available to buy through the website. Looking forward to adding this new design to our range of classic car weathervanes!
This hand painted weathervane was ordered by one of our customers for her partners birthday. This is the first hand painted motorcycle design we have produced, it did create some new challenges but we are very proud of the finished result. Though this example is on a weathervane there is no reason we could not do a piece such as this on a house sign or even as a stand alone peice of wall art. As you can see the level of detail included stands up to very close inspection.
This weathervane is based on a Triumph Bonneville, we had already done the initial siloutte design, which we have been producing both as a weathervane and house sign for a number of years now but in order to get the hand painted detailing correct we needed to do quite a bit more research. Fortunately the customer started us off in the right direction by providing a couple of photographs of their bike so we could match the colour scheme. One of the issues we had was how sucessful Triumph had been with the Bonneville over the years and as such how many variations have been produced. The initial silhoutte was taken from a modern Hinckley built bike so there were various subtle differences we had to allow for, for example the kickstart was gone and the carbs. have now been replaced with fuel injection (albeit designed to look as close to the original as possible). The other big difference with working on a motorcycle design (as oppose to a car or even animal) is the difference between one side of the bike and the other. Not only in terms of the controls but also the engine casings, which were very different from one side to the other. I hope we have done it justice and the customer has already been in touch to say how thrilled they are with it so we can get on with the next design with the satisfaction of a job well done.
We can do designs based on any motorcycle and with the correct photos or information can even colour match it to your bike and allow for any customisations to make it unique to you. We have done a number of motorcycle designs in silhouette already, including a Harley Davidson, a Brough Superior, a Velocette and a number of designs based around TT legend Joey Dunlop. The designs can be found using the link below, if you would like a different bike doing then please get in touch, we do not generally charge for design work as this is how we have built up our portfolio and will be more than happy to work with you to get the design just right.
This post aims to give you some ideas & advice for designing a bespoke weathervane, either for yourself or as a gift. Please have a look at the photos below, there are explanations about each one in the text further down the page.
I think the most difficult thing about designing a bespoke weathervane is choosing the subject, simply because the choice is so vast. Common themes are Hobbies such as gardening or sports, Vehicles are a great choice for classic car or bike enthusiasts, while a favourite Pet can be perfect for an animal lover. If the local area is famous for a particular type of wildlife, this can be a really nice touch. We’ve recently sent a Red Kite weathervane to an area of Wales where these rare birds can be seen. You could also focus on the history of the area, or even the past use of the building the weathervane will be mounted on, if it is particularly interesting.
The list of subjects is pretty much endless which I realise does not make it any easier to decide! If you are thinking of buying a weathervane as a gift, why not have a bit of a brainstorming session, focusing on aspects of the person receiving the gift such as their hobbies & interests, do they have a favourite place or holiday destination? A customer recently commissioned a ‘Bear catching a Salmon’ design for his Canadian wife, to remind her of home. Do they have a favourite book or film? Our Mr Toad from The Wind in the Willows is quite a popular design. If the person has a collection of anything this can be a great light hearted option; one of my favourite designs was a gentleman in old fashioned dress pushing a vintage lawn mower; it was given to a man who has a collection of over 300! It does not need to be serious, it can be something to make you laugh and can be as silly as you like. We have even produced a flying pig weathervane for a lady who just felt that she needed a bit of luck.
Another possibility could be based around their working life. We produced an Argosy aeroplane design ordered as a gift for a man who had flown them during the war, and also designed a banner style weathervane with a chemical symbol laser cut into it for a man who had been some sort of industrial chemist, and this formula had been an important part of his career. Quite a funny one was a ‘Pig in a Pipe’ design, which literally showed a Pig running into a pipe, but represented the machine that cleans industrial pipes, known as a ‘Pig’.
A few other things to consider:
1. It’s important to ensure that the design will function – weathervanes work based on balance. The surface area needs to be much larger at the back than the front so that the sail will catch the wind and spin into it, but the weight at either end must be equal. We can make pretty much any design function as a weathervane so don’t dwell on this too much, but is worth bearing in mind.
2. Bold designs work best; the more different components a design has, the smaller each individual component will be. Remember it needs to balance. The letter bars can always be decorated with a design other than the hand forged scrolls – for example we recently produced a design based on a customer’s boat. She wanted her two Jack Russells to be in it, but given the difference in scale, they were barely visible at all aboard the boat. So we put them on the North / South Bar instead, which looked great. Another example of this is a bespoke car weathervane we did for a mechanic; beneath the letter bars were laser cut spanners with his initials. There is an additional cost for custom letter bars, but well worth it if you want a really personal touch that cannot be incorporated into the sail itself.
3. If buying the weathervane as a gift, do consider where the recipient will put the weathervane – though we are happy to swap fixings later, it’s best to at least have an idea of the size they will need. There is some advice on choosing sizes on our weathervanes information page.
4. We are happy to work from as little as an idea discussed over the telephone, or as much as a computer jpeg image showing exactly what you want. There is no charge for design work, though the more information you can give us about what you want the design to look like, the less time it will take, therefore enabling us to keep design work free of charge. Rough sketches are welcome, as are images or links from the internet. Anything to help us get an idea of what you are after! For those of you with an artistic side, why not have a go at designing your own, like the whale weathervane pictured above; it was designed by a lady who is a professional Illustrator.
5. Make sure you allow enough time. Design work is not an instant process, especially when an image goes to and fro a couple of times getting it just right. A bespoke weathervane can take up to four weeks to manufacture from when the design is confirmed, so make sure you contact us in plenty of time.
When your ideas have been discussed, we will then come up with a design or two, & email them over (we can post to those who do not have an email address). You then have the chance to suggest any minor alterations or improvements to the design. We are happy to do this, so don’t worry we won’t be offended! It’s important to get the design just right.
If you have a design you’d like to discuss, please feel free to phone us on 0161 681 4293, or fill out our online contact form.
Finally our Morgan three wheeler weathervane design is done! We started this design almost a year ago, based on photos of this beautiful car outside our workshop. Normally with car designs we find that a front corner / side angle works best, but for the three wheeler it just looked odd. And then we had a phone call from a customer asking specifically for the Morgan three wheeler to be drawn in side profile for a bespoke weathervane, and here it is! Really pleased with how it turned out, as is the customer.