In an unorthodox way, a humpback whale saved my soul. Not literally, mind you, but the whale did what wires couldn’t. Allow me to explain.
I had a very lucrative job in 1987 as a marine electrician. Most of my time was spent "behind a desk", designing electrical systems. Being totally sequestered, I found myself longing for the daily interaction with people. I was becoming bored, frustrated and lifeless. I knew I had to get out, but how? When the opportunity presented itself to work as a salesman for a friend’s company, I grabbed it. Friends and family thought I was crazy to abandon my career and security for a job that offered little future. When one door closes another opens, has never been more true. One of the products I sold was weathervanes.
Little by little, these endearing animated sculptures sporting arrow and fin crept into my heart. Intrigued, I leisurely began researching their story at libraries and historical societies. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. What I couldn’t find in books, I found in the human element. I was fortunate enough to find experts and professional weathervane artists, from across the country, who were willing to talk to me and answer my questions. I also began attending classes in art at the Rhode Island School of Design. My studies revealed a rich history, a proud craft, and a dying art. Amazingly, only about a dozen full-time weathervane sculptors still work in America.
Inspired by all that I had seen, I decided I wanted to try to make my first weathervane. The first piece I tried was a flat copper fish. I chose the design because I thought it would be easy. I failed miserably. Someone else had to finish it for me. He became my mentor and urged me to continue but it would be a year and a half before my hand touched those shears again. That’s how discouraged I was.
By 1990 I had already started my first weathervane company. I was surrounded by my passion - weathervanes. It was just about heaven except that in the back of my mind the copper and shears were beckoning for a rematch.
Painfully reminded of my first humiliating attempt to make a weathervane, I vowed my second attempt to utter secrecy. I worked late at night after everyone had gone home and hid the results during the day. After about a week, the figure of a humpback whale was complete, (The very one you see above). Reluctantly, I brought it into the light of day and began to show it. Everyone was genuinely impressed and the work has been steady ever since. So you see, that humpback whale truly saved my soul by virtue of success, confidence and renewed dreams.
We did "everything" there was to do with weathervanes at my first company and as it grew, I found myself the chief of a successful corporation with several employees and all the bureaucracy and stress that went along with it. People strive to achieve exactly what I had but I eventually realized it wasn't what I wanted. My daily management duties kept me "behind a desk" again. I was rarely sculpting weathervanes and that is what made me happy and fulfilled. I ended the corporation in 2004 to return to the bench, the copper and shears and started 'Ferro Weathervanes'. This time I have a much narrower focus. Spend more time on the bench than at the desk!
The winds of change have carried me into an entirely new life. Before, I always followed the crowd moving in the same inspired direction ($$$). Now, for the first time in my life, I am free to be myself and set the course. People are looking to me for guidance, as I went to those who helped me years ago. Life is fun. It is unpredictable. Prospective owners commission me because I will make them a uniquely personalized vane and I find that process completely enjoyable. Bringing metal to life seems so natural. Over the years I have developed my own style and I'm recognized for my ability to capture the spirit of the subject I sculpt. My weathervane designs fly above hundreds of rooftops across America and in at least a dozen foreign countries. Some of my copyrighted designs are being reproduced in quantity by the factories in Indonesia for the world markets.
My studio is nestled in the heart of New England. Warren, Rhode Island is a charming seaside community with a rich heritage in boat building and handcrafts. I extend an open invitation to anyone who wishes to visit me here.
For more information on my weathervane crafting techniques CLICK HERE.
I am a member of the following organizations:
Copyright 2013 Ferro Weathervanes.
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