Art + Music | Neighborhood
Kiawah River’s New Weathervane
When we decided to spruce up our entranceway along Betsy Kerrison, we chose a custom-made weathervane forged in the shape of a fish, to reflect the Kiawah River logo’s pair of jumping fish and our connection to the water. The weathervane itself pays homage to the sea island property’s farming history and importance of understanding coastal wind patterns. The history of weathervanes, as well as the story behind our particular hand-crafted piece, is worth a closer look.
Kiawah River’s weathervane was handmade by West Coast Weather Vanes in Santa Cruz, California. In 1988, while honeymooning in New England, LizAnne and Ken Jensen came across some copper weathervanes at a roadside shop. Delighted in their newly found shared love of weathervanes, they chatted up the owner of the shop, eventually learning that there wasn’t even one weathervane maker west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Over the course of their honeymoon, LizAnne and Ken began talking about starting their own company and 18 months later they had saved enough money and researched the craft enough to be able to open their own weathervane company on the West Coast.
Twenty-five years later, West Coast Weather Vanes is one of only a handful of artists worldwide that produces handcrafted copper weathervanes. They don’t use molds—rather, they use “free form” and “repoussé” techniques to produce one of a kind, custom pieces. Repoussé is technique where metal is shaped by hammering into relief from the reverse side. According to West Coast Weather Vanes, such handmade pieces date back to second century BC, and recently have fetched as much as $5.84 million in auction for a large, heavily patinated weathervane of an Indian Chief with bow and arrow.
The earliest documented weathervane sits atop the Tower of Winds in Athens, Greece, and dates to first century BC. Vikings used them on their ships during their most dangerous voyages to aid in exploration beyond the sight of land. During the Renaissance, royalty showcased their heraldic coats of arms on weathervanes, and after the American and French Revolutions commoners showcased their occupations through design of these implements. The most common weathervane designs these days are horses, roosters, cows and eagles.
If you want to see our sea trout weathervane in its current, shiny glory, take a look now. Over time, the copper will begin to develop a patina from being out in the elements. Since we’re near the ocean, the salt water will cause the piece to weather more quickly. But a full patina won’t develop for several decades. The weathered finish is what ultimately gives each weathervane its unique appearance and makes them highly prized by collectors.
To learn more about weathervanes, visit westcoastweathervanes.com