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The cupola and its weathervane, as featured on Houzz recently.
Recently we had an unexpected heads-up from the staff at Houzz.com, letting us know a photo from Austin Design’s Pro page galleries had been selected for an editorial feature. Houzz has fast become the nation’s leading residential architecture, landscape, and interiors social sharing website. Housing professionals share photos of their best projects on their profiles, with well over 3 1/2 million in the Houzz database; users create Ideabooks with their favorites, to use as inspiration for their own plans and dreams. One might think of it as a virtual scrapbooking site, replacing messy folders and crowded bulletin boards crammed with gleanings clipped from design periodicals. Staff and contributors write photo-rich, magazine-esque articles on various topics, drawing imagery from the online portfolios; with more than 16 million monthly unique users, the site has grown tremendously since its founding in 2009.
The Mountain House in all of its handcrafted glory.
Inspired by the Tour-de-France (which started July 5, 2014), staff writer Marianne Lipanovich put together a list-type article entitled “Bicycle-Inspired Decor to Make Your Heart Race.” Drawing from the Houzz archives, she compiled examples of a bike motif being used throughout the house – whether objet d’art, such as paintings, prints, or posters, or three-dimensional representations, from sculpture to actual bicycles and their parts. ADi’s selection fits well into the sculptural art category: it’s a wonderful large-scale bicycle weathervane, crafted in copper by Marian Ives of Hawley and Norwell, Massachusetts.
A cold installation day: January 27, 2006 (photo Marian Ives).
The weathervane sits atop a skylit square tower crowning the roofline of a stunning slopeside home in West Dover, Vermont; the vacation enclave showcases an impressive collection of artisan handwork, custom details, and traditional European building techniques. For their inspiration, the owners drew heavily upon their Swiss heritage and their love of the outdoors; the grand yet rustic retreat is perched right on a ski trail at Mount Snow in southern Vermont’s Deerfield Valley. The weather vane was carefully integrated into an anodized pyramidal skylight with a stainless steel support structure; it had to be watertight as well as be able to handle the storms the mountain weather might throw at it. The dramatic setting only accentuates the fine detail and consummate craftsmanship of Marian Ives’ ultra-realistic bicycle sculpture gracing the peak of the cupola.
Steps in the copper fabrication and assembly process (photos by Marian Ives).
Marian is a metalsmith who has been working in New England for over 40 years;. She maintains studios in Hawley, a small western Massachusetts town in the Berkshire hills not far from ADi’s offices, and in Norwell, MA, close to the coast and just south of Boston. A graduate of the School for American Craftsmen at The Rochester Institute of Technology, she began working with vanes, as they’re called by those in the trade, in 1972. Inspired by the metal horse atop her grandmother’s barn, she created her first weathervane – a codfish – for her parents home on the Annisquam River. Building on her years of experience and now working mostly by referral, she has created and rebuilt hundreds of examples, often drawn from animal motifs: her giant copper lobsters are probably the best-known.
Marian works on one of her signature giant lobster sculptures (photo by The Patriot Ledger).
Much of her work deals with the restoration and repair of historic examples, the icons of the New England culture-scape, especially the coastal towns and harbors. Storms, fires, and time take their toll on these rooftop sentries, standing on point for decades atop the shipping warehouses and government edifices that have become landmarks for sailor and lubber alike. Just last month, Marian’s restoration of Marblehead’s Abbott Hall vane was craned back to the tiptop of the 170-foot-tall tower above the harbor there. Working with New England craftspeople such as Marian is one of the great pleasures of creating custom residences for discerning clients. With handcrafted elements integrated into the design from the ground up, the results ensure a home befitting both the occupant’s personality and the region’s architectural heritage with its wealth of skilled artisans. In this case, what better way to cap it off than with a copper bicycle weather vane!