Written by Patty Yu
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When decorating the home and garden, accessories like weathervanes, finials, and cupolas, are all interesting ways to personalize your outdoor space. Options are pretty much endless, and depend on your personal taste, budget, and style. Many outdoor accessories can be customized to make a personal statement, or you can choose the many traditional styles available.

Shopping for home and garden decor is easily accomplished at your local garden supply retailer, which usually carries a decent selection. Flea markets and yard sales are one way that collectors find rare, valuable items such as antique weathervanes. Serious collectors are also finding the Internet to be an excellent resource, displaying thousands of items at the click of a button.

Common Outdoor Accessories

One of the most common outdoor accessories is the weathervane, which can be quite decorative, yet holds a very specific function. Weathervanes are designed to point towards the wind direction, and have been around for centuries. Many weathervane manufacturers create affordable copper weathervanes that adorn rooftops and gardens all over the world.

Cupolas are another outdoor decorative item that you mount to a rooftop, or build directly onto the roof of another structure. Many of you may recognize cupolas as the small dome structures built atop barns, stables, or chapels. Bell cupolas are often depicted in imagery showing historic schools and cathedrals. Cupolas do have an original purpose, which is to act as a skylight and provide air circulation.

In many gardens, you will also find finials adorning the tops of fence posts, outdoor lamps, and even on cupolas. These turned ornaments cap the apex of an architectural structure and prevent water from collecting in those areas. Finials are extremely decorative, although the weatherproofing is extremely important. You can find finials in a number of materials and designs, such as glass finials.

A History of Weathervanes

Weathervanes have been around since at least ancient Greek times, when people believed that the winds held divine powers. In those times, weathervanes often depicted mythological deities like Triton, Hermes, and Mercury. Vikings were known to use weathervanes in the 9th century on Viking ships, often made into the shapes of animals or other creatures from Norse fables.

Around the same time (9th century), the pope decreed that all churches in Europe should have a cock on its steeple or dome. For centuries, rooster weathervanes have topped steeples in Europe and America. In the last few decades, fancier weathervanes with elaborate designs became more widely used, though into the 1900s simpler silhouette weathervanes developed.

How Weathervanes Work

Most people know what weathervanes are supposed to do, but do they all know how exactly the weathervane mechanics work? There are only a few rules when designing the weathervane. From the ornament's center, the weathervane must be equal in mass on both sides, but unequal in area on both sides. With this design, crosswinds push the tail end until the nose points in the same direction wind blows. A ball bearing ensures rotation.

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