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Don Felix is featured in an upcoming episode of Handcrafted America. Courtesy photo.




Handcrafted America

See the episode featuring Seabrook artist Don Felix on Friday, Jan. 27, at 9:30 p.m. on the family-friendly entertainment network INSP. Visit insp.com/shows/handcrafted-america for more on the show or visit Felix’s website, jdonaldfelix.com.




Made by hand
Seabrook weathervane artist featured on Handcrafted America

01/26/17
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



 It’s taken Seabrook artist Don Felix a lifetime to perfect the process of making custom, one-of-a-kind copper weathervanes, which people across the country will be able to see in an upcoming episode of Handcrafted America

The TV show airs Friday, Jan. 27, at 9:30 p.m. on INSP and is hosted by Jill Wagner (Christmas in the Smokies, Teen Wolf, Wipeout), who travels the country in search of talented artists making products the old-fashioned way. Each half-hour episode features three craftspeople.
Producers reached out to Felix the first week of June, and filming happened in his beachside studio in August, just before he left to sell work at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair in Sunapee. The crew was there from morning till night as Felix staged the process of making a swallow weathervane, shooting him hammering, shaping, soldering and detailing the object from a piece of copper.
“As a person, I don’t want to be in the spotlight, but if you put your heart and soul in something for a lifetime, and you get the opportunity to be recognized — the exposure doesn’t hurt, and neither does having that feather in your cap,” Felix said via phone a couple weeks before the premiere.
Felix began making weathervanes in high school at the Golden Eagle Coppersmiths. He felt it was satisfying to create something that would stand the test of time, he said.
“When I first started, I was just pounding molds. I was making $1.60 in minimum wage. But I stayed there for three, four years. When I graduated high school, I did the Easy Rider thing — I took off on a motorcycle for eight months and drove to California. At that point, I had no idea if I was going to come back. I was just going off to see what the rest of the world was like,” Felix said. 
But he returned to make some money and tapped back into the trade. When manufacturers began producing weathervanes faster than the business could, he taught himself to make them freehand, without molds. He started his own business in 1983.
Today he works in a studio that overlooks the ocean.  He also makes copper light fixtures and sculptures, but he’s known for his weathervanes, which you’ll find all over the state, from New England College in Henniker to Throwback Brewery in North Hampton. He used to show at fairs and expos across the country, but now all his effort goes into the fair produced by the League, which he’s been a member of for 35 years.
It’s hard. The designs take time, and so does the physical labor, in part because he puts more energy into each piece than he used to. When he’s not in the studio, he’s performing administrative work. 
“Since I do it myself, I’m the shipper, I’m the accountant — I’m a little bit of everything,” Felix said. 
Felix hasn’t seen the episode yet; he doesn’t even have the channel. He’ll watch it on Friday at a friend’s house with the rest of America. He appreciates that the producers are shedding light on handmade craftsmanship. 
“The value is in the validity of it,” he said. “The marketplace has changed so much. Everything is being manufactured right now. Very few people can do anything by hand anymore.” 





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