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Wind Spinner History From the Beginning
The wind spinner goes by many names. Spinner, spinner, whirlwind, spinner, spinner etc… Its origin starts with the windmill. This is a good place to start our discussion.
No one knows who the original inventor of the windmill was. No indication has ever been found that windmills existed in classical Greece or Rome. Evidence shows that the first windmills appeared in Persia around 644 BC to raise water. The trail of development towards the West begins in Arabia around 1000 AD. Then through Tibet, China and finally England in 1150 AD. These early devices were all of the horizontal type. In this type the blades or sails are connected to a vertical shaft. There is no way it can change direction with the wind. At this point the development of the horizontal windmill continued, but a new type of device appeared called the post windmill. This is the most traditional one we are familiar with. Its shaft is horizontal to the ground and is connected to a vertical shaft inside the body of the mill. Out at the bottom of the horizontal shaft is a unit with four sails mounted on it. The angle to the shaft was set to allow the wind to push the sails in one direction causing the shaft to rotate. Early windmills of this type allowed the entire mill to rotate around a vertical axis. Later versions were developed that allowed only the top to rotate and by attaching a weatherstrip to the rear of the axle allowed automatic steering. The blades always remained pointed into the wind.
Later in 1756, in what would be the early American colonies, farmers found more uses for the new windmill device. They found that birds and land animals had no use for the spinning structures and so smaller and smaller versions were built for the sole purpose of scaring the animals. As they became smaller and smaller, a new word was coined to describe them – eddies. The word is derived from the verb to spin. Perhaps it was the misspelling of the word with its resemblance to the vortex torture device (developed in 1440) that propelled it to popularity. But before you knew it, a whole plethora of tiny contractions appeared. Including things with spinning legs, wings, spinning or spinning wheels, fast spinning fans etc… Many of them were disgustingly animal shaped. With a weather tail attached they seemed to be alive. This aspect scared away the disturbing birds and animals.
Whirligigs became popular again in the 1930s. They were a way for farmers to make money during the depression. After a while the eddies branched out into different types of spinning gear. One was the pinwheel with its obvious connection to the original windmills, which became a historical children’s toy. From this came the wind spinner. This is similar to a vertical windmill in that a single twisted piece of metal is bent with the wind. Every little breeze makes it spin on its axis.
Aviation Wind Sock also developed from the moto aspect and is used as a weather instrument. Some credit for the invention of the wind sock goes to the Chinese. They were flying kites as early as 500 BC. Some were shaped like socks with an open bottom.
Whirlwind wheels or spinners branched off another branch called wind spinners. Some are similar to the pinwheels or the business end of a windmill with its horizontal axis. Some are based on the vertical axis principle and usually depend on that vertical axis being the axis of rotation.
The vertical axis wind vane has the added benefit of side view or a normal viewing angle. A single wooden or metal torture plate is satisfactory by itself. But remember the kaleidoscope where fast-moving pages with coordinated changes in each “frame” created the illusion of movement.
Now imagine a single plate of stainless steel cut into multiple rings inside each other. Then each one individually bent around the axis. All rings are equal in an arc of 90 degrees. Movement of the resulting structure around its axis would also create the illusion of light moving from the center outwards. This is how the stainless steel wind spinner is born.
Today, with the advent of precision computer controlled laser cutting machines, any design within the limitations of the cutter can be created as a wind spinner. The stainless steel wind spinners cannot rust making them weatherproof and come with their own spinner and are available in a host of powder coated colours. Therefore, they can be used indoors or outdoors. For indoor use motors are available to rotate them continuously. In nature the wind will turn them. They can hang on almost anything that gives them room to move.
You, your family, friends and even pets will spend hours watching the ever-changing light patterns.
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