MOST PEOPLE simply enjoy the finished look a weather vane gives a roof. It imparts charm and the pleasure of watching it twirl. A weather vane can make a personal statement, depicting a profession, hobby or pet. It can also be displayed as a work of art.
Weather vanes, ranging in price from $30 to $3,000, come in all sizes. Castle Craft's handmade brass eagle has a 5-foot wingspan, while its pewter eaglet stands barely 8 inches tall. Much of Castle Craft's stock is from E. G. Washburn, America's oldest weather-vane factory. The store offers big, beautifully wrought full-bodied (3-D) stags, horses, sailboats, etc. in hand-pinged brass with flat, clutch or cupola bases. One of the vanes is topped with a huge brass feather.
Whitehall Metal of Montague, Mich., makes most of the weather vanes sold in fireplace shops. Two-dimensional matte black aluminum figures--including fowl, wild and farm animals, dogs, old-fashioned cars and planes, golfers, horse-and-buggy doctors, --are available realistically hand-painted. Whitehall's large, full-bodied vanes on brass-trimmed masts are finished in brass, bronze, verdigris copper and gold leaf. Many shops also sell larger handmade copper imports as meticulously detailed as gallery sculptures.
B.J. Mountain Folk Art handcrafts big, brightly colored hardwood weather vanes. An Uncle Sam arm has an arrow at one end, a finger-pointed glove at the other. Most of B.J.'s realistic, fantasy and cartoon figures have wings or limbs that spin in the breeze. Besides indicating wind direction, these whimsical whirligigs also keep birds off the roof.
Washburn's oversized weather vanes are sold by Castle Craft in Tarzana. Whitehall-type and imported weather vanes are sold by Paykel in Santa Monica, Floyd S. Lee in Pasadena, the Fireplace Shop in Glendale, Old Century Forge in Long Beach and Wilshire Colonial shops in Beverly Hills and Costa Mesa. Wooden whirligig weather vanes are sold by B.J. Mountain Folk Art in Torrance.