Dutchess County Folk Artist Crafts One-Of-a-Kind Weathervanes and Table Sculptures
Jesse Germond combines his blacksmithing skills and artist’s eye to create unique pieces
You might think a boy who spent time helping out in his dad’s automotive shop would become a car nut. In Jesse Germond’s case, it made him a folk artist. “When I was 13, my dad bought a new welder, and I took the old one home and taught myself to weld,” says Germond, explaining how that led to an interest in blacksmithing. “And that,” he continues, “was the gateway to becoming intrigued by sheet metal folk art. I always liked weathervanes, and one of the first pieces I made was a small weathervane, a rooster.”
Now 37, Germond has many weathervanes and sheet-metal sculptures to his credit. Farm animals are the recurring theme, although he created one whale-shaped weathervane with whirligig whaling boats. “That was a fun project,” he says. “Some of my ancestors were whalers on Nantucket, and I’d always wanted to do a whale.”
Germond, whose other ancestors were among those who settled the rural Dutchess County hamlet of Stanfordville in the 1700s, is self-taught, apart from one welding class he took in college. “It was a beginner’s class, but because I was already skilled, I was able to do more advanced stuff,” he says. He deploys his welding skills to make metal furniture, but the sheet-iron weathervanes and sculptures are riveted and made by hand, using the same methods and tools the old-time blacksmiths used.
Weathering the elements: Jesse Germond allows all of his weathervanes to rust before completing them with a beeswax finish
Germond “scrounges scrap metal here and there,” then sketches his design freehand, cuts the shape with heavy shears, and uses files and sandpaper to smooth the edges. “I don’t use templates,” he says. “So each piece is different. After I’m done making them, I leave them outside for a while to let them rust. Then I apply a beeswax finish.”
Visitors to Red Devon, the restaurant and market in Bangall may have noticed the metal sign in the shape of a bull with a tail that swishes in the breeze. “That one’s kinda neat,” says Germond. “I went to the owner’s farm, and that’s one of their Red Devon bulls; he was the model.”
Prices run from $120 for a small table sculpture to about $2,000 for one of the more intricate weathervanes. Germond Metal Works, where the artist also does repairs, is at 6099 Rte. 82, Stanfordville. The gallery in front is open by appointment. 845-797-0407.