To me, windmills are an American icon that played one of the most important roles in our nations agricultural history. I have dreams and hopes of one day living on a hobby farm with a towering windmill that can be seen for miles and miles. Until then, I will have to settle for bringing this American icon into my home in an uncommon way.
Windmills and windmill components have gained popularity as a result of being featured on HGTV's Fixer Upper. However, my love of windmills and other implements found on farms developed during the friendships I have formed over the years with the Amish. I have a deep respect for their age-old farming techniques that others may find archaic as well as their nonjudgemental, non-critical acceptance of others. In a world where everyone is interconnected and everyone's business seems to be everyone else's business, I have learned from the Amish that you can truly find peace when mind your own business.
Last spring I asked my Amish friend in Sparta, WI if he could get ahold of some fallen windmill pieces and within a few weeks, he had several for me to choose from. While the blades make a definite statement on our wall, the tail (or fin) is what I love most. The weathered rusty patina is perfection to me.
After doing some digging, I found that the windmill tail hanging on our wall is a Challenge Steel Windmill manufactured from 1906- 1927 in Batavia, IL. How cool is it that we have this piece of agricultural Americana right in our living room. :)
I ordered them from the Patent Prints Etsy shop for only $9.50 each (+ shipping). I decided on the sandstone color because it gave it that aged look I was going for.
There is a huge selection of colors available from this Etsy shop to coordinate with any style of decor. There are also hundreds of different kinds of patent prints available on Etsy. I would be surprised if you didn't find something that was a reflection of your own personal taste and style.
Wall art can get pretty expensive, especially when working with a theme. These vintage inspired patent prints were the perfect addition to our neutral black, white, gray, and rust colored great room. As I have said in previous posts, I'm not one for cookie-cutter decor. I rather fill my home with unique items that you find at flea markets, vintage shops, or with what others might consider junk. Even though these patent prints are not originals, they are still very unique.
How to make simple frames for patent print art....
To make a more unique picture frame for the patent prints I started off with a 1x2 board (actual dimensions are ¾” x 1½”) and instead of laying the boards so the frame was ¾” deep and 1½”wide I cut the 45’s so that the frame was 1½” deep and ¾” wide which gives it more of a shadowbox type look.
I cut the frame so that the interior dimensions of the frame was ¼” smaller than the patent print. Then after the boards were all cut I set the depth of the table saw blade to a ½” and then adjusted the guide so that I would be able to run the boards through it and take off a blades width from the boards.
This is to allow the patent print and the backing board to sit inside the frame.
Once the frame pieces are all cut I test fit them together to make sure everything was square and then glued all the joints and used a nail gun to fasten it together. Always use a good quality wood glue on your joints because that will keep joints from eventually working themselves loose.
While the wood glue was drying I took a sandable wood filler and filled in the nail holes and any gaps on the mitered edges.
After that hardened I sanded the frames down with an orbital sander and also rounded off the outside edges to give them a bevel. I opted to do this with the orbital sander instead of the router with a quarter round bit to give the boards a rougher look so the end product wasn’t perfect.
After that I spay painted the frame with a flat black paint. If you do a light coat it’s enough that it covers the frame with black, but the wood grain texture will still show through.
After the paint was dry I took a piece of 1/8” thick hardboard and cut it down to the size of the patent print and slipped the patent print and hardboard into the frame.
If the measurements were correct they should fit perfectly where the grooves were cut in the frame and leave you with a clean look on the finished side. To hold these in securely I used a staple gun and put staples every 6” around the frame to hold the board and patent print in.
Be sure to check out Etsy for a huge selection of patent prints!