Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Boats as Weathervanes

I have worked on a fair few boats in my days as a weathervane maker. Boats are the second most popular theme amongst historic 3D vanes in England, so there is plenty of inspiration pieces. Usually it is the ornate detail, the rigging & abundance of sail that makes a showstopping boat, and usually it helps if the design is based on a famous and beautiful ship in the first place! 

But ornate design has some drawbacks. Rigging, whilst elegant & beautiful, is also the most likely to show stress over time.  In the case of this client's Swan 431, the whole design was simplified:  a wedge shaped hull, stainless steel sleeving through the whole length of the mast, heavier guage copper for the sails and a few hardy stays. A ship pared back to only the most necessary aesthetic elements, all to prepare it for a life fighting the wicked winds of the Florida keys...

The boat currently on the workbench  will face similar weather, being destined for one of the islands in the Inner Hebrides in Scotland . Here are some snaps of the design being developed. The final image shows the "lymphad" with a red undercoat, in preparation for full gilding.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Ship Shape & Diggers in the Garden

The Sun & Moon weathervane is off to it's new home. We ended up gilding the sun unlike the original weathervane  which was bronzed. The bronze does give a beautiful molten texture, but because this was a larger version, the additional weight at the tail end of the weathervane would have put too much stress on the pivot point.

Work in the studio has been completely focused on the Hebridian lymphad. I don't know why stylized designs end up being so challenging. Perhaps because they rely entirely on the purity of line, something quite hard to maintain with the copper moving all over the place! Elements like the robust hull, and the "straps" that wrap around it, as well as spun copper ball pierced by the arrow, forged brass, and the date in the tail...these are not easy to create. The high heat of the oxy-acetylene seems to "hot box" the brass and exhaust the more delicate copper detail, so warpage becomes a major issue. It is a lovely "fat" weathervane to behold though...so it's all worth it in the end.

I'll post a picture of the weathervane again once it's gilded, but the best I can do now is a silhouette, as our November weather has deteriorated in to dark, wet days:

And for those of you that may have driven by the house and stared in horror at the "bomb site" that is Woodfield Farm, lots has been going on. The scaffolding is still up, but the paint job is finally done (using eco paints). The new orchard isn't planted yet, but the chestnut tree surrounds are in.

However, by far the biggest shock is the removal of the leylandii hedge. Not only is it strange to see all the way down to the road from our kitchen window, but the green grass of the farmer's field is in shreds with all the work. The uninterrupted space is all a bit overwhelming! At least the machinery is marvellous to look at.