Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Creative Cup of Tea - PART I

The neighborhood is growing by the second and beginning this summer the Fort Point community will be the new home of the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.  Over that last several months the Museum was constructed on the Channel waterway connected to Congress Street Bridge.  This carefully crafted building came to life with the help of barges to unload building supplies,  maritime ship builders,  artists,  historians,  and workers that seamlessly assembled a house of history.  This summer, the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum will tell the story of the American colonists that rebelled against the British rule in 1773 through re-enactments, artifacts, and more!  As you walk across the bridge in anticipation for its grand opening on June 25th, you may notice a shiny copper weathervane perched on the top of the Museum.  A teapot - simple and sweet.

Courtesy of the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

The Teapot & Cups weather vane was handmade in the central California studio of LizAnne and Ken Jensen, owners and artists of West Coast Weather Vanes. (Boston Tea Party Ships & Museums)  The Jensens studio has been operating for over twenty years using free form techniques to create these creative models of American craftsmanship.

Courtesy of Jodie Baehre

The process begins with a paper pattern traced onto a sheet of copper. The individual design pieces are cut out by hand with metal shears. Various hammers are used to give texture to the metal and the 3-dimensional shaping is done with rawhide hammers on leather sand pillows, anvils and custom-shaped oak blocks.  The two opposite halves of each section of the design are soldered together to form a hollow body and then joined.  Before the closing of the last seam, a penny from the year the weathervane is made is placed inside as a symbol of good luck. The completed work is signed by the artist who created it from start to finish. (Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum)

Courtesy of West Coast Weather Vanes

A good bit of trivia and great conversation starter, the Teapot & Cups weather vane perched on the Museum has three pennies, each with its own story - A 1773 British copper halfpence that bears the image of George III, marks the year the Boston Tea Party occurred. The other two, an 1873 Indian Head copper penny that depicts Lady Liberty wearing a feathered headdress, and a 1973 Lincoln Head copper penny acknowledge the two centuries that have passed. (The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum). Chris Belland, CEO of Historic Tours of America, the company creating the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, is a man of historic accuracy and detail.  It was Belland’s idea for the three pennies that rest inside the weather vane to be a silent symbol of American History.

1846 lithograph by Nathaniel Currier - The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor.
  Contrary to Currier's depiction, few of the men dumping the tea were actually disguised as Indians

The simple and sweet Teapot & Cups weathervane already has an artist’s touch and creative story.  It has found its home at the doorway of Fort Point where residents can watch it gracefully age over time into a perfectly patined public artwork.

Part II of this post will introduce you to the artists of West Coast Weather Vanes with an interview from LizAnne Jensen.  Check back with us soon to get the inside scoop!

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