After 20 years in the dollhouse and miniatures business, Sneads Ferry couple Don and Laura Saddlemire now up-cycle scrap metal to create unique and functional works of art.
The Saddlemires own and operate D&L Weathervanes, which offers handcrafted wall ornaments, charms and weathervanes. The couple creates custom patterns — a feature that keeps their work unique and personal.
“With a new design, sometimes it can be a little fun and challenging,” Don Saddlemire said. “Once a piece has been approved, shaping takes about two days and is followed by a two to three-week balancing process. The piece needs just the right surface area behind the rod to properly kick it around into the wind.”
Weathervanes are created from recycled copper shingles from a 1920’s Outer Banks home. Each ornament has a different color variation naturally created by nearly 100 years of weatherization. Some pieces have colorful bands caused by a striping effect after the creases and folded edges of the shingle are flattened out. All copper is left untreated, which allows the art to age organically with time.
“We don’t do any artificial coloring,” said Laura Saddlemire. “We feel that the variations of beauty in the natural product are what we want to focus on. It’s a good complement to our personalities. Don is very orderly, and I’m a little random.”
The couple first got into the business after deciding to create a personalized wedding gift for a family member. After the difficult task of locating all the pieces and learning how to put them together, the Saddlemires decided to continue using that knowledge.
“It was a long learning process,” Don Saddlemire said. “Working with copper is really a lot of fun but it’s very unforgiving. Things are either right or they’re not.”
Eight years later, the business offers a much larger catalogue of nautical designs, such as mermaids, lighthouses and seagulls. The couple also accepts custom commissions. Patterns can be constructed as silhouettes or 2-sided swelled figures. A third option, black powdered figures, is currently being phased out, and only a limited number remain.
In addition to weathervanes, D&L creates smaller ornaments for hemp necklaces and bracelets. Because copper does not rust, the art is ideal for both indoor and outdoor displays. Products can be picked up at an upcoming show or with advance notice at their home workshop in Sneads Ferry.
Pieces cost anywhere from $6 to $250 depending on the request and intricacy of the design. As for their best seller, Laura Saddlemire explains it just depends on what people are looking for.
“Because charms and ornaments are at a lower price point, volume wise we will sell more of these,” she said. “The wall art is new for us this year. It’s been a nice mid-point addition to our product line, and it complements our copper very well. Mermaids and turtles always sell well, so we offer those patterns in all three products.
“We believe in our product and want to hear what people are saying. Some of the modifications and designs we’ve made over the last few years are in response to what people have come back and told us.”
The couple stays busy with craft shows and market appearances and has already booked a full schedule through September. Their next appearance will be Aug. 29 at the Topsail Beach Craft Market in Town Park at Topsail Beach and then Aug. 31 at the Carolina Beach Farmer's Market in Carolina Beach.
For more information or a design quote, call 910-327-0369 or visit dlweathervanes.com.
Want to see more?
D&L Weathervanes will be at the Aug. 29 Topsail Beach Craft Market in Town Park at Topsail Beach.The craft market is open from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m.at the start of the downtown district on the corner of S. Anderson Boulevardand Davis Avenue.