The finishing touch | Primrose

What are Wind Spinners?

Wind spinners are an ornamental feature, made of metal and powered by wind to create a mesmerizing movement. There are many styles and colours to suit your outdoor space, find out why so many people love them as the finishing touch to their gardens.

Design

Gardeners and designers around the world incorporate the wind into their landscapes – from gently tinkling wind chimes to pond-side windmills. The most popular, however, is the wind spinnerThese amazing kinetic sculptures are now more fashionable than ever thanks to the wide range of styles available and the way they lend themselves to both highly structured, contemporary gardens as well as more traditional lawns. Not only do wind spinners make amazing focal points in any garden, but they’re also popular for their hypnotic effect when spinning at full speed.

History

So where have these magical ornaments come from, and why are they so popular? Also known as Whirligigs, from the Middle English words whirlen (to whirl) and gigg (top), it’s hard to place exactly how far back people have been enjoying their spinning sails. 

The American whirligig had a boom in popularity in the 1930s as a way for farmers and craftsmen to earn a living during the depression. Easily made with scrap materials, they could sell for a dollar – which was enough to feed a family for a day! One of the most popular kinds of whirligig at the time was the simple pinwheel, usually made from cheap celluloid. These more basic spinners paved the way for wind spinners which turned with the breeze but did not have a complex mechanism or depict a scene, unlike the traditional whirligig.

With the invention of more efficient ways to manufacture steel – especially lightweight stainless or powder-coated steel – making complex wind spinners became far easier, and craftspeople stepped away from traditional whirligigs towards the more complex results that could be achieved with a modern wind spinner. This started a new phase in the kinetic art movement towards kinetic sculptures: huge spinners made from metal designed to twirl in such a way that makes them resemble an optical illusion, twisting and bending in ways that at first seem impossible.

Art

The most famous kinetic sculpture artist is Anthony Howe, who builds both enormous and miniature creations designed to move in the wind. His work is fluid, hypnotic and organic – despite the stainless steel construction. These impossible-looking giants are famous around the world for their precisely coordinated movements and innovative design which means they can perform even in strong winds.

Howe’s incredible work was even showcased in the 2016 Rio olympic opening ceremony, where one of his sculptures took pride of place as the olympic cauldron. During the olympics, it wasn’t wind that powered the slowly spinning sculpture but heat that caused the sails to move.

While dramatic spinners are cropping up in galleries and garden shows all around the world, smaller ones are making their way back into gardens where a twenty-foot spinner might be a little impractical. These pieces combine modern techniques and forms with a long and colourful history to produce innovative garden art that feels both contemporary and traditional at the same time.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a popular method to help improve good mental health and overall wellbeing. This involves using all of your senses to ground yourself in the present and ignore your brain’s tendency to live in the past or future. Mindfulness has been proven to reduce anxiety, provide a sense of calm and control in our overwhelmingly busy lives and also increase overall levels of happiness.

Visual triggers can help us enter a state of mindfulness, such as watching the mesmerizing spinning of a wind spinner. Notice the colours, the shapes and the motion of the spinner whilst also tuning in to what you can smell, touch, hear and taste. Do this for 10 minutes per day and you will notice you feel calmer and more in tune with your surroundings.

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