Create Glass Wind Chimes
By James L. Haworth
Isn?t it pleasant to listen to the gentle tinkling of glass wind chimes as you garden or sit in your lawn chair on a warm summer day? The sunlight sparkles as it reflects off and through the many colors of the stained glass pieces. If the chime uses clear glass, it sends sparkles of sungleams in all directions. Would you like to make glass wind chimes with your own creativity? It takes a little effort but making a glass wind chime that will last for years will bring you untold satisfaction. I?m not going to tell you how easy it is and any child can do it, there are plenty of that sort of wind chime ?instructions? on the web. Making quality glass chimes is a task for adults and it takes effort to do it well. Let?s get started.
First of all I would like to put in a plug for an article I wrote about tunable metal tube wind chimes. Going there will give you a few pointers about using monofilament fishing line, stringing strikers and wind catchers, and making the top pieces that hold the whole thing together.Much of this information also applies to making glass chimes.
Those of you who have worked with glass already know how to cut, grind off sharp edges, and drill holes. For those who don?t, there are sources on the web that give instructions on glass cutting. Try this one or go to Google to do further research.
Random leftover scraps can be used or patterns can be cut to achieve a desired appearance for the glass chime. The edges of newly cut glass should be ground off slightly with a glass grinder or a piece of carbide used for sharpening knives can be carefully run over the very sharp edges to dull them enough so you won?t get cut. A piece of sandpaper wrapped around a wood block works well. Old timer glass enthusiasts know that cut glass often has edges that are as sharp as a razor blade, and the slightest touch can produce a distressing amount of blood, so be careful!
After you have cut and ground the edges you can use a diamond glass saw to cut two slots on opposite sides of the pieces or do the same thing with a glass grinder to put your notches in the same spots. This will give you something to tie the monofilament line or brass wire around and draw it tight. The other end of the string or wire is attached to a hole already drilled in the top piece. Use your imagination for the top piece; it can be a shaped piece of plywood, driftwood, desert wood, an old branch that you?ve taken a steel bristle brush to, an old metal plate or a leaky teakettle. Keep the lines fairly short so you don?t get a twisted mess if a strong wind should whip your glass chime into a frenzy. Use a small drill bit, like one-sixteenth of an inch, to make holes in the top piece for the suspension lines and you can make them close enough so that one glass chime piece can strike another if you want. This will give you more sound than stringing the glass chimes further apart so they have to be rung with a striker in order to be heard.
Monofilament line tends to slip out of its knots, so tie a square knot twice or a fisherman?s knot as illustrated on the metal tube wind chime article. Use 12 or 15 pound test monofilament fishing line. Put a drop of Krazy Glue on the knot when you are satisfied with your handiwork. Brass wire can be purchased at arts and crafts stores-20 gauge is good.
The glass wind chime is suspended with heavier monofilament line (like 60 pound test) or heavy brass wire (16 or 18 gauge). Two suspension lines are enough for an inline chime, if you use driftwood or a branch. If you use a piece of wood and cluster the glass chimes around a center, you will have to suspend the top piece with three or four lines or wires so it doesn?t tip too badly. A stainless steel key ring can be attached to the suspension strings if you are using a hook under your eaves to hold the assembly.
Your glass chimes may also have holes drilled in them to hang from the top support with strings. Glass is hard, brittle, and difficult to drill, but it can be done. Stained glass grinding machines use a small grinding bit with diamond chips imbedded in the brass material and is shaped like a tube. You have to keep this bit lubricated at all times as you will wear it out quickly if it goes dry, and they aren?t cheap. Glass shops sell a liquid that mixes with water and acts as a lubricant. A fifty-fifty percent solution of automotive antifreeze and water will also work quite well.
Spear point drill points can be purchased in home improvement centers or hardware stores, just be sure to get the smaller sizes. At one time one local store sold them in packs of four?1/8, 3/16, 1/4, and 5/16 inches. If a larger size wears out, say the ? inch, then use the 3/16 or 1/8 inch to drill the hole, then use the ? inch to enlarge it. This works because only the tip of the larger drill bit is worn out, not the entire bit. These bits are used in ordinary drills, but also must be kept lubricated with the 50-50 solution or light oil such as WD-40, turpentine or (my favorite) scented lamp oil. Drill slowly, use goggles at all times and heavy leather gloves would also be a good idea in case the glass shatters.
I like to use the cutout bottom of a plastic gallon bottle with about two inch sides to drill holes in my glass chime pieces. Then I use a scrap piece of plywood on the bottom and pour in about one inch of 50-50 solution of antifreeze-water for lubricant. Using heavy leather gloves and safety goggles, I hold the glass piece and drill until the bit is through the glass. The plywood usually stops the bit from going through the bottom and leaking all the solution. In case it does, no loss, I just save the solution and transfer it to another plastic gallon bottom.
Windchimeconstruction. A message board with 3000 members. Perhaps you might be interested in making your own, tuned wind chimes with hardware store pipes instead of paying $100 and up for the store bought ones.