Wednesday, January 13, 2010

DIY wind chime

It was a handmade Christmas this year and I want to share a couple of them with you.

My mom wanted a wind chime "made out of any interesting items". I was first going to raid the items I already had, such as a huge stash of beaters, but I was still in North Carolina and the beaters were in Wichita. I also didnt know how they would sound clanging together. I got on to check out the handmade wind chimes others are making. There are a ton of eating utensil wind chimes but I didnt think they looked very appealing and plus its over done. I like unique :) or less discovered. So I went thrifting and started banging things together to see how they sounded. I decided to go with candle holders (all of them brass I believe). They sound like bells (probably because they are shaped like bells at the bottom). I didnt actually buy the candle holders until I was back in Wichita. So I went through a whole other episode of banging them together in the store. I had to make sure that the ones I chose would sound good together. I chose a variety of sizes and shapes. All of them were unique. I also chose another brace object -- a butterfly trivet -- that I planned to put in the center of them all. I decided later that it made more sense to hang the candle holders from it.

so i guess if i was to put the process in step-by-step instructions, they would be as follows...

1. go thirfting. play around with found objects, making sure they sound good when clanging together
2. arrange them. I chose a circle but you could put them in a straight line. a circle gives them better odds of clanging together. Also need to consider their height arrangement too. I tried out different spots on the candle holders to find their "g" spots and arranged them accordingly.

3. mark the "g" spots with a black crayon and number them on the bottom so putting them back in order is made easier. i wrote the number in the same spot so i knew which was the back and which was the front. you could mark them differently if another method makes more sense to you.

4. drill holes in the candle holders. i used a sharpie to mark 2 dots on the outside top lips of each candle holder. i placed the first dot and then did my best to place the second one on the exact opposite side. one method you could use is ... place a piece of blue masking tape across the top of the candle holder, dividing the circle in half. flip it upside done and mark it on each side. to drill the holes, i placed the first candle holder upside down on a piece of wood. use a drill bit just slightly larger than the rope/strip you will thread through it. with the drill in one hand and with your free hand, use your palm to press down firmly on the bottom side of the candle holder so it doesnt slip. (note, my trumpet was made out of thinner metal pipe so it got a little bent from me pressing done. i really didnt need to probably press down so hard but the other pieces were not affected. i tried to bend the trumpet back to its original shape. i think im the only one who knows the difference.) when drilling, go slowly not to jam or break the bit. if it seems to not want to move, ease it out and dust off the shavings. remember your working with metal shavings so use protection such as goggles and gloves.

5. decorate. I asked my mom if she'd rather have classy or fun/colorful. she chose fun and colorful so I went with that. I bought some enamel paint and also used 1 spray can of red paint. I did not prime because i didnt want the primer to show when the paint got nicked away. i was betting that the paint would chip away no matter what, but i still tried to prolong that from happening. i did at least 3 coats of paint (more on the spray paint) and 3 coats of varnish. on the spray paint, i masked off the small areas that i wanted red. it used up a good chunk of blue tape but turned out nicely.

***note: after decorating the butterfly and seeing how cute he was, i really wanted him to be visible. i originally debated whether the painted side was going to face up or down. since it was probably going to be hung high, i leaned toward painted side down. my boyfriend suggested to just buy a metal ring to hang the candle holders off of and then place the butterfly about that. well that's what i did. i did however need a metal ring then and one that was the right size and hopefully color. i ended up thrifting a christmas angel that sat on a metal ring. i used my dremel to cut her off of the ring and then smooth out those spots so they would be sharp.

6. string them up. i used some nylon braided twine, size #18. my eagle scout of a boyfriend actually took over this portion of the project once i helped him get the right heights. he tied all the knots. bowline knots around the candle holders and then clove hitch knots around the ring. then the bottom two knots on the butterfly were clove hitch and bowline around his neck leading to the top. the top knot where it would be hung from a hook or a tree branch, is not visible in the photos but it looks like a noose. a figure 8 on a bight was used. different kinds of knots are totally foreign to me so i added links to show you how to make them. if you'd rather just use knots that you know how to tie and they stay, that works too. the knots tended to slip out due to the material of the rope, so he used super glue to secure them and then used a lighter to fuse the ends. if you have the equipment to do so (a heat gun with temparture control such as the Quakko 850), you could also melt the nylon together for a very strong and permanent bond, and then no glue is needed.
7. remove the crayon marks. it should scrap off easily with your fingernail or you could use a little goo gone.

**you do have to be careful about packing them if you dont want them to get digged up too badly before the recipient sees it. i weaved bubble wrap through and around it. the strings will shift so after its hung, adjust the string so that the candle holders hang straight and are spaced evenly around the ring in order for the ring to be level. as you can see, neither of these were done in the above picture. the blue candle holder is the most obvious. the triangular string right above it, can slide back and forth through the 2 holes in the lip so you can adjust it.


  1. the butterfly flying over the musical candle holders is quite original and very attractive!