A working weather vane belongs on every building, even a little library…Terry Faust poses next to his own little library displaying the "Cat #2" weather vane which he creates and currently sells through "Wee Weather Vanes" currently on Etsy.com. (Photo by Terry Faust)[/caption]
By JAN WILLMS
Longfellow resident Terry Faust takes to heart the adage “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
Whether it is writing or photography or inventions, Faust seems to never run out of ideas and keeps his mind racing with creative thoughts.
His latest conception is Wee Weather Vanes, miniature weather vanes that fit on the roofs of the thousands of little libraries that have popped up in front of residences over the past several years.
The Little Free Library Association began with Todd Bol of Hudson, WI, building a model of a one-room schoolhouse, filling it with books and posting it in his front yard in 2009. He did this to honor his mother, a schoolteacher, who had a great love of reading. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. This concept has taken off so quickly that by January 2014 there were approximately 15,000 little libraries around the world.
Faust said he had seen the miniature libraries in his neighborhood and knew it would be fun to build one, which he did in the fall of 2012.
“There are lots of children on our street, so I stock mine with children’s literature,” he said. He also adds science fiction books on the top shelf, including the books he has written.
“As winter went along, the library reminded me of those little weather stations that are built on four supports and record the weather,” Faust explained. “With that in mind, I added a weather vane, thermometer and anemometer that measures wind speed. The first weather vane was very simple; an old bike spoke with a tail on the end. It told you which way the wind was blowing, but it was no work of art.”
Faust’s wife, Cathy, thought he should make a weather vane that was more artistic.
“I started out using material like cardboard that was very lightweight and very durable, but it looked weird,” Faust said. He said he could carve out a design, but the finished product looked like cardboard. So he started using Sintra PVC that is similar to a plastic version of tag board, and that has held up well. Sintra is a weather-proof rigid closed-cell homogeneous foamed board.
Faust carves the weather vane design with a Dremel drill that has a 1/8-inch wide cutting blade. He lays a picture of a horse, for example, on the Sintra and carves an outline. He then goes back in and smooths it.
“I find images or draw them myself or find pictures online, making sure they are in public domain or paying for the rights,” Faust said.
The functioning weather vanes are 1/8 inch thick and range from about 8 inches to 13 inches in width.
Faust finishes the Sintra with Rust-oleum Universal Metallic paint to simulate the traditional copper used in full-scale weather vanes.
Faust added that the vanes are weighted for balance and fully functional in all weather conditions.
“It takes a good day from start to finish to carve out the vane and put the first layer of paint on it,” Faust continued. He said another day is required to paint it fully. “It requires many, many layers of paint,” he added. “Although I try to make them look like copper, the vanes can be painted any color the customer likes.”
Faust said he can customize the vanes for whatever design the purchaser would like. He created a design of musical notes, and that required three hours of hand cutting.
The vanes are easily interchangeable, and a cat or horse design can be exchanged for a snowman during the holidays.
Faust has spent the past month passing out flyers in his neighborhood describing his weather vanes, and more information is available at www.etsy.com, an art site, by searching on there for Wee Weather Vanes.
Faust said he once heard the term “folk engineer” and feels that is an apt description of what he does. “I do a bit of this, a bit of that,” he noted.
He said he is able to work on other projects, such as his writing and photography, while he waits for the paint to dry on the weather vanes. He writes speculative fiction and urban fantasy.
As for his next idea, he has some thoughts about pinwheels.