A couple of photos from the workshop at the end of last week. The blinding bright light shows me TIG welding an arrow to the bar for a weathervane sail, while the top image shows a bespoke deer weathervane clamped to the workbench ready to weld. It needs to be clamped securely to avoid the heat from the weld warping the design, as this could actually prevent the weathervane from functioning. The bespoke deer design features a fawn as well as the doe and stag, stood in fern based undergrowth. This one has now been electroplated and powder coated, so will be ready for packaging and dispatch this afternoon.
A Drummer weathervane we designed and manufactured at the end of last year – it’s good to see our range of music themed weathervanes growing. Initially I couldn’t decide whether the image would work better as a side profile or front on, so ended up drawing both and giving the customer the choice; this is what she went for. We felt this design would work better mounted centrally and with a tail at the end, as with the bass drum especially being cut out, there isn’t actually that much surface area to catch the wind, so it functions better this way. A great personalised gift for anyone who plays the drums!
A bespoke weathervane design we produced at the end of 2017 – we’ve just rediscovered it now while looking through customer photos sent in during 2018 in order to choose the winner of last years’ photo competition. We love how the deep blue sky makes the weathervane stand out! It’s also taken from a great angle, as all the letters are the right way round and the sail has spun so we have a very clear view of the design.
In terms of creating this weathervane design, the main difficulty was the Kingfisher. The customer comissioned this bespoke weathervane for her husband, who is a wildlife photographer. She wanted the bird to be in the image as well as the man taking the photograph, which was tricky because of the difference in size; if the bird was actually to scale it would have been so tiny you wouldn’t have seen it when mounted on the roof. By making the Kingfisher design part of the tail & therefore a seperate component to the photographer profile, we felt he seems as though he is in the foreground, rather than just being a disproportionately large bird, which I think was a risk if we’d made him part of the main laser cut design. A fantastic personalised gift for a wildlife and photography enthusiast!
A Basset Hound weathervane we designed and manufactured at the end of last year. As our designs go, this one was reasonably straightforward as the dog is standing in side profile, though at the research stage we needed to look into specifics of the breed standard to make sure everything was exactly right. After showing the design to the customer we made a few tweaks to get the angle of the tail correct, but other than that we were ready to go with it. This bespoke weathervane was produced for a customer who’s Basset Hound had recently passed away; it’s nice that he is now looking down on the family and makes a lovely tribute to a much missed pet.
Another of the bespoke weathervanes we produced at the end of 2018. The design is based on Edinburgh castle, a landmark local to the customer which dominates the skyline of the city. It was quite a challenging design to create as it’s an absolutely huge castle with loads going on, but the details were difficult to show in silhouette form. The fortress sits at the top of a rocky hill, which I’ve tried to show using small angular cut outs at the base of the design, as if light is reflecting off the surface of some of the rocks. Another thing I found when creating this design was that with the castle being so old, no part of the building is straight; when I began the drawing I used the computer to draw, for example the roof line, which because it was drawn on the computer, was perfectly straight. I was suprised at how odd this made it look! So I ended up following the roof line by hand with my graphics pen, which as I’d done it manually was not perfectly straight, and so far more true to life.
The hikers, shown as if in the foreground walking away from the castle, are a nice detail as it adds a bit of a narrative to the otherwise static design, I think it breaths some life into the scene of this famous 12th century castle. We loved creating this bespoke weathervane as it’s a landmark we know well from trips up north; we hope we have done it justice!
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.
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.
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