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!