Saturday, 12 April 2014

Quit Swanning Around

Just wanted to share some of the picture inspiration we are using to create our current commission,  a standing Swan. 

This new weathervane design is already on the workbench and the dramatically outstretched wings are full of promise! We have done swans before, my favourite being our swan in flight sculpture, but it is great to have a different version to sink our teeth into. Aside from picture inspiration (see our Swan Pinterest board), we looked at a lot of text as well. It's always nice to have a story lingering in you mind while you are working on the copper and trying to build the character of the piece. For a swan this might be re-reading the Swan Maiden or watching the ballet Swan Lake. This time, I was more taken by the idea of the chained swan featured in the Flag of Buckinghamshire, which appears was inspired by the medieval tale of the Knight of the Swan. The idea of that beautiful elegant (even delicate) neck, bound by a heavy cuff and chain, is such a powerfully haunting image. 

"Cynge" by Melanie Bourlon

"Swan, Rush & Iris". Walter Crane. Painted 1875. Design for wallpaper 
Design for the Flag of Buckinghamshire

Saturday, 23 November 2013

On your Bike!

Our newest weathervane, created for Oxford University's  Harris Manchester College, is one of our most elaborate weathervanes to date. Originally the architect's drawings for the tower indicated only a large simple arrow, but clearly something with more character was in order. Oxford is home to the wonderful Elephant weathervane on Broad arrow was not enough. The concept had been upgraded to a bicycle by the time Greens Weathervanes got involved, but there were issues with surface area. Working collaboratively with the architect & the school's Principal, this was finally amended to...a Professor riding a bicycle (inspired by the logo for "the Oxford Experience"...and by all the cycling Professors in Oxford!).

early concept design for Harris Manchester University weathervane

This vane required a complex infrastructure, and the full-scale drawing allowed an opportunity to fine tune not just the character of the cyclist, but to decide the most sympathetic way of introducing the mainshaft and create support for details like the "spoke-less" wheels and the flying gown.
laying out copper, brass & bronze elements on the full-scale drawing.
The full weathervane took just over 6 weeks to construct, and totally dominated the studio. Like our Liberty vane, we  did much of the final brazing either off a stepladder, or on our knees. The hardest part was adding the arrow at the end...maybe we will do that first next time!

Obviously, getting the figure just right was a huge focus in the latter stages, but there were some fun details along the way; creating elements like his book, shoes, cap with tassel & of course the gown.
small brass "Oxford" tag with copper rivets
"Harris Manchester College" stamped onto the chain wheel. Shoe lace detail.
The final hurdle was the photo shoot. The vane was actually too big for a photo shoot anywhere in or around the studio, so even the client had to wait until the vane arrived to see the finished product. Some pictures of  the components where emailed to tantalise them, but of course the weather took a turn for the worse in the final days, so only indoor shots were possible.
The cycling Professor!

Cardinal letters with 8 inch spun copper ball.

Luckily (as planned) the sun showed it's beautiful face en route to Oxford. We didn't want to cause an accident, but the first available lay-by proved our only choice for a few final reference shots. Ta-dah!
Full Cyclist weathervane including the book in his right hand.

...and then one for scale.

Gordon Green holds the Oxford vane assembled!

Friday, 25 October 2013

A Maker's Mark

Banner Weathervane, repaired
A break in the clouds allowed a last shot of the repaired copper weathervane. The copper rivets, used to restore the pointer to it's original position, can clearly be seen.

Brass plate with hand-hammered copper rivets

The original signature on the antique weathervane for the local church was probably the nicest "find". We stamp all our work with "GREEN" and the date and number (if the design has been repeated). In the case of the repair above (note the original patina on the copper...beautiful!) Gordon stamped his initials and "2013". Loving the hand-hammered copper rivets, allowing the repair to be undertaken without the use of the torches. I assume the original maker's mark is from 1880, but what if it's 1720!
Original Maker's Mark:

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Elephant in the room

New! Elephant Weathervane
Our newest copper weathervane is just complete; a young elephant playing ball. The design was created with lots of input from the client as a special 80th birthday present to her husband.

Also in the studio is the banner weathervane from our village church, needing some attention. The oak timber which had been holding the heavy wrought iron mainshaft, had rotted out leaving the vane to list. Once a weathervane is no longer plumb, the wind can do considerable damage. Luckily the parish raised the money for scaffold and the banner was saved. This antique copper weathervane, which has a beautiful verde gris, has been repaired a few times over the years, giving it a great deal of history, and should probably have been retired and displayed for all to enjoy, a replica produced to go up on the church roof. In this case however the parish wished to put the original back on it's perch. The pierced inscription reads:

Sunday, 1 September 2013

as part of Herefordshire art week, GREENS is hosting 9 days of art
come see our new stable gallery,
see demonstrations & tour the studio

5pm daily, Sept. 7th – 15th
5:30 – 8 PM
drinks, nibbles & live music

Friday, 12 July 2013

Pheasant Weathervane

Copper Pheasant Weathervane

 Many of our weathervanes are commissioned as gifts to commemorate the end of a build,  a wedding, or a big birthday (as is the case with the pheasant weathervane pictured above). He's a reworking of a classic design from the portfolio, with ornately chiseled plumage and bronzed legs.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Peacock Weathervane

We were recently commissioned to remake our peacock weathervane with an upgraded mainshaft and more robust tail feathers. This new design is hot off the workbench.

Peacock Weathervane