The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois on March 9, 2008 · Page 75
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The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois · Page 75

Arlington Heights, Illinois
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Page 75
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me* SECTIONS n.MI.YIIF.RAl.n SUNDAY, M/-RCH 0, 2008 Vanes more decorative than practical BY NZONG XlONG 'Ilir Imna Ibr Tliere aren't many weather vanes like the one standing • atop Jeffrey Smith's garage in Oakhurst, Calif. This one, in the shape of a train, is handmade by a local coppersmith. "It's an old steam engine and coal car," says Smith, 61, a retired train conductor for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. "The north is facing north, but it doesn't rotate because it's so heavy." For centuries, weather vanes have stood tall and proud, perched on rooftops, spinning at the whim of the wind. They're still popular, but their purpose has changed in recent years. Homeowners now tend to buy them more for their decorative appeal than their intended function. "In this day in age, everyone's got on their computer" if they want to know which way the wind is blowing, says Mike Grill, the hardware department manager at Fresno Ag Hardware in Fresno, Calif. Weather vanes are "more of an aesthetic thing or a finishing touch on a house, barn or gazebo. With them being so personable now and there being so many choices, (people) can find many that fit their personality or the style of their house." Although the inventor of the first weather vane may never really be known, these wind devices have been vital to many through the ages. "Weather vanes had their roots in fonns that were developed out of early man's need to understand and predict the most ephemeral of nature's forces — the wind," write Robert Bishop and Patricia Coblentz, authors of "A Gallery of American Weather- vanes and Whirligigs" (E.P. Button, $27.50). "The need to predict with a relative degree of accuracy the changes in weather heralded by the direction of the wind certainly led to the development of the weathervane, one of the first meteorological instruments devised." Early weather vanes were made of metal or wood and usually had designs that included arrows or heads that turned in the direction of the wind. They typically rotated on a pole. Early settlers to America are believed to have used them. "Weathervanes were unquestionably used in mid- 17th-century America," Bishop and Coblentz wrote. "Although no specific New World vane is known to exist from this period, marginal decorations on early maps in the form of cityscapes illustrate their use in New York in the last half of the 17th century." Additionally, they wrote: "The weathervane was extremely popular in America because weather forecasting was vitally important to the seafaring and agricultural lives led by the Colonists. It also became a symbol of newfound social and political equality because any man could now raise an elaborate metal banner as a make- believe coat of arms over his home or farm." It was during this time that stationary compass pointers were added to weather vanes, according to Bishop and Coblentz. "These made it easier to determine accurately in which direction the head of the vane was pointing as it turned in the wind." Weather vanes — whether wood or metal, three-dimensional or flat silhouettes — were originally handcrafted. Designs included animals, such as roosters, pigs and fishes, and scenes or images, such as mermaids and trains. Hut the Industrial Revolution eventually changed how they were made. "The weathervane, like so many other consumer goods, was no longer economical to create by hand," Bishop and Coblentz wrote. "Commercial, large-scale production vanes became more realistic and the innovative, one-of-a-kind creations in both metal and wood nearly disappeared." Many weather vanes, such as those available through catalogs and stores, are manufactured commercially. They can be made out of copper or other metal materials. Some designs also include stained glass parts. SCRUM'S HOWARD NEWS SERVICE Part of Jeff and Caroline Smith's collection, this weather vane is too heavy to turn. They are made by a machine and a mold where the metal is pressed into the mold, says Jack Holder, a coppersmith in Oakhurst who created Smith's train weather vane. "The handmade ones are hammered into a mold and take more time. You have to form it, shape it and do the final touches." Not many coppersmiths still make weather vanes, says Holder, who makes about two a year. "It's kind of a dying trade," he says. "You find most of them back east." As for Smith, he owns another train weather vane that Holder made but keeps it indoors. Holder likes to make weather vanes with designs that customers won't be able to find in catalogs, stores or online. Besides trains, he's done a mermaid, a piano, an old motion camera, antique cars and biplanes. Dennis Padgett, owner of One Way Construction in Oakhurst, likes to give weather vanes as gifts. He'll put them on homes he builds for clients. For example, he asked Holder to make a weather vane with a speedboat for a man who likes speedboats. "It's definitely a custom touch and enhances the curb appeal" of the home, he says. Weather vanes often have reflected aspects of the homeowners or the house styles. For Smith, as a former railroad conductor, the train image was significant to him. "It's kind of an identity thing," he says. "It gives you a sense of a purpose. Like, my purpose was working for the railroad. I would think that if a person was a carpenter, they'd put up a saw." There are many designs to select from, and they can reflect your passions, occupations, or sense of humor. Fresno Ag Hardware in Fresno has a number of weather vanes on display above store rows. Gun collectors might like the vintage-style copper shotgun weather vane for $199.99, while fishermen might go.for the weather vane featuring a fisherman in a boat for $221. The weather vanes can be attached to pole brackets that can be bolted to roofs and fascia boards. Some brackets also can be attached to decks. Villas of Chestnut Ridge 21 SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES IN BUFFALO GROVE"" Homes Shirting a! $690,000 $30,000 Buyer Incentive Package Distinctive Architecture • Located in Award-Winning School District 103/125 OPKN HOUSF: MARCH 9TH, IPM -4PM I-'OR MORI-. 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Close to train & shopping! \KurtMnns 815-338-71U/ Elgin $177,300 Best of flip Best in The Greens of Elgin Senior Connminity! Secure 2nd floor location in elevator building. Remodeled from floor up! Southern exposure from private patio, www.dtolierman.coni DCC Tobcrmnn 847-428-5525^ Elgin $194,500 Nice 'i hoflmom, 2 bath townhomc. featuring a finished lower level w/family room &, fireplace. Great kitchen' w/qak cabinets, hardwood floors & dining area w/sliders to deck. 2 car garage too! \Jjiura Grasemann 815-155-552B/ Luke in the Hills $225,000 Stunning 3 UK, 2 1/2 BA duplex with Pottery Bam style! This home offers everything including master suite with remodeled bath, designer clininc room, full bsnil, 2 car garage, a huge fenced in yard w/swiinniing pool & no Homeowners Association dues' \Mutt Hayes 815-455-5525/ Palatine $249,900 Original Owner! Updated 3 bedroom ranch on corner lot with garage, I'rotil & rear deck, new furnace & air conditioner aim fresh paint in living & dining room. \Bill Spencer 815-455-552Sy Streamwood $359,900 Gorgeous gourmet kitchen with stainless slepl appliances, cherry cabinets, island with cooktop, breakfast bar & atijai-enl lo sunny Dli! 3 1)R, 'I HA located near shopping restaurants, golf course & more! Walerie Ormsetli 815-455-5525/ S, West Dundee $394,500 Vacation in your own backyard! Beautiful 40x10 ingrouiul heated pool surrounded by private landscaping! Classic -J15K, 2 1/2 BA home is close to all conveniences & park. \Dawn I/Karen C 815-4S5-5525/ West Dundee Gorgeous custom home location cluse $539,000 w/exeellcnt lo 1BU & Melru IromlSpeciacular home w/lsl floor master built plus 3 udd'l BR & loft, full English basement, Red oak hardwood floors. '2. covered porches & a 000 sq. ft. paver patio w/walkway! \Heidi Lar.hel 815-455-5525/ East Dundee $168,000 Beautiful 2 BR, I 1/2 BA 2ml floor comlo in Senior Community of Village Green. Full kitchen with washer £ dryer. Peaceful views from private patio. \OccToberman 84T-428-5525/ Gilberts $190,000 Timber Trails 3 13U, 2 1/2 BA knvnhome spacious open floor plan & community walking/jogging trail. Conveniently located off Randall Rd. & close to 100, train & shopping, \Natnlic Hart man 815-455-5525/ Elgin $208,000 Tvler Towers Luxury Coiulo! Freshly'painted 2 BR, 2 BA unit w/fully nppiiancpd kticJieii, private master suite, spacious Living/dining area & private teiTaccv'patio. Remodeled baths, new carpeting & underground parking! VyDce Tobernmn 847-428-5525^ Algonquin $240,000 Wood floors welcome yon into this 2 BR, 2 BA townhome! Great room with fieplace opens to center island kitheen w/all appliances! Basement adds living space hut maintains plenty of storage. Great location near shopping & IPO! \Erln Anderson 815-455-5525^ Elgin $319,900 2 ISR, 2 BA homo in Del Webb 55+ Comimuiity. Set on premium lot backing to oncn .space & pond. Never lived in. Over $50,000 of upgrades. Wonderful amenities. yJauct & Bill llihbs 815-455-5525^ GILBERTS $379,900 Great 4 UK, 3 1/2 DA home w/open floor plan, fiiii.slied walkout lismt & kitchen with cherry calmiels & gnutile couulertops. Sel on wooded 3AI acre w/2 level deck & hoi tub! yUliru Gruscmaini 815-455-5525/ South Elgin $399,900 Stunning -I MR, 2 1/2 BA home features a 2 story entry, 1st fir den, full bsmt & lenced yard. The 2 story Hi w/stone gas start frpl opens to kitchen w/bayed eat in space & large center island. \Gloria Jenson 815-455-5525./ Island Lake $575,000 Qiiulily iTun.siiii U islii|, hc-yunil I'tiiiiiiaiisiiii! I UK, U \r> HA, IIiimiMi'l klli-lii'ii, inaaU'i- l!st ' tt . xul y (^ ^Ji 111 ^ 1 ' w ''dk in cluM-i & i)V«| 1 wkhm'»Vju > ij.-il hjli-kyli?i ll fa'wuvd'?ur i-ubli'/wjuilO 41 Uii' fuiiriHc n.joi ia invuwU fur nulliuil hi-iu. Su niiuiy ntfiS \Valaric W/CaiieyV. BlMSS-SSagy/ 021)07 an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Ui-al Estate Affiliates, Inc. & iVudi-nUiil is a registered sen-ice mark of The Prudential Insurance Company of America Equal Housing Opportunity. 1SJ

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