The traditional weather vane on the peak of a barn is a nostalgic reminder of days gone by. Though usually designed in the figure of a rooster or a running horse, modern artisans can create a weather vane in just about any design or motif you can imagine. Often they are made from copper, but other metals are used as well.
Modern designs you might see include a dolphin, a sailing ship, or even a huge grasshopper! A unique design for the proud alumnus or college sports fan is a weather vane featuring the mascot and logo of your favorite university.
Copper is available in a highly polished version, or in verdigris style, which has been allowed to tarnish. A less expensive metal that is often used to construct a weather vane is cast aluminum. It can be painted black so that it resembles cast iron, but of course it is much lighter than its look-alike.
The North, South, East, and West indicators are called the Cardinal points. They are often made of a different type of metal, such as brass. Beneath the cardinal points there is typically a small globe shape of some type, and a smaller globe rests above the cardinal points. Usually a weather vane features small cups that catch the wind so it can blow the vane around. The vane is then able to indicate the direction of the wind.
A weather vane needs a sturdy mounting bracket. The best are designed to prevent roof leaks, and feature hinges on the sides for easy installation on the ridgepole. For an even more striking design in mounting, the weather vane can be attached atop a cupula.
For indoor or outdoor wall mounting, wall brackets are available. Smaller weather vanes are often attached to a table stand and used as a center piece or focal point in interior decor.
In days gone by, a weather vane was used to help the farmer predict the weather. For instance, people living in New England might be able to foresee a coming storm (a “Nor’easter”) when a sturdy breeze starts coming in from the northeast. In the Midwest, winds from the south might indicate warmer weather in the future. For a weather vane to work really well, however, it needs to be in a breezy open area.