Wind chimes are one of the easiest crafts you could make. They don’t need to be fancy, and you can make them with things you’ve got laying around the house.
You just need some materials that dangle and make a nice clinking noise. Then you fasten them all to a base and hang it up outside, and you’ve got a wind chime.
The beauty of making wind chimes is they can be anything. And the more creative you get, the more original and interesting they’ll be.
You can find the materials you’ll need to make one around your home or at a flea market. Except for the drill and the fishing line, and possibly some sealant, if you don’t already have those on hand.
Choosing the Materials
Almost anything can be a chime, as long as you like the sound it makes. Sometimes – especially in a densely packed neighborhood – one that makes a soft “clunking” or “clacking” sound can be better than an actual ringing/chiming noise.
Wind chimes don’t need to be elaborate or fancy, or even musical. A mellow tapping sound can be very soothing on warm breezy evenings.
Examples of items you can use as chimes:
- Pieces of metal pipe (sound like traditional wind chimes)
- Pieces of plastic pipe (a soothing clacking sound)
- Bamboo sticks (lovely clunking noise)
- Old tiles or old broken bits of tile or pottery (these can make a very pretty clacking sound)
- Pieces of heavy glass
- Large wooden or glass beads
- Pieces of wood or pencils
- Old metal kitchen utensils or silverware
- Old bottle caps
- Old cans
You can use anything that makes a noise you can hear across a fairly large room, that’s safe for birds and squirrels (not that they’re likely to come near wind chimes, but you never know), that’s reasonably weather-proof, and that’s not going to break when it collides with the other parts in a strong wind.
And if you want to use something that’s not weather proof, you can spray it with a sealant to make it more weather resistant. It’s okay for wind chimes to become weathered. That’s part of their charm.
Some breakable pieces can be combined with less breakable ones: for example, I’ve seen lovely wind chimes made using finished bathroom tiles as the striker with metal tubes for sound. The tubes never broke the tiles, but another tile might have.
The chime materials need to be light enough to move in the sort of breezes you get in your area, but not so light that they jangle constantly and annoy people.
The size of your base should allow the chimes to be spaced far enough apart to avoid tangling, but close enough to bump into each other.
If the strings you dangle them from are too long, they’ll get tangled all the time (and stop chiming).
The bad news is: some of this is trial and error. There’s no better way to learn how to make them than by making them. But the good news is: almost any mistakes you make can be fixed.
Your base can also be a household item or flea market find. It can be round, allowing chimes to sway in every direction, or it can be long with the chimes lined up side by side, bumping into each other in the breeze.
It needs to be big enough to let the chimes be a short distance apart. Usually 1-2 inches is a good starting point – closer for smaller chime items, maybe longer for something like pieces of pipe.
Possible base items include:
- Old embroidery hoops
- An old planter turned upside down
- A piece of driftwood
- Clothes hanger
- Any long or round item from your “broken things I’m convinced I’ll use again someday” collection
What About a Striker?
Some wind chimes include a striker – a central item against which all the other chimes can clink. It’s usually a big round disc of some sort that’s easy for the chimes surrounding it to hit.
Good strikers can be made from, say, a small piece of wood or finished ceramic. It can be as simple as a wooden disk or an old chipped ceramic tile.
The striker isn’t actually necessary, and it certainly doesn’t need to be a special item you have to go to trouble to find. It can just be a central chime in the middle of your base that all the other chimes can hit.
Some people will argue that a striker can often provide more and better sound. It depends what materials you’re using and what sound you’re hoping to make.
You might want to try adding a striker. For some reason, the best combinations I’ve see involve porous strikers with non-pourous chimes. Like a piece of terracotta surrounded by pipe or glass beads.
Fishing wire is the best string to use. It’s strong, safe for animals, and you can’t easily see it, so it looks like the pieces of your wind chime are just hanging in the air.
Twine or strong string can be good choices, too. Metal wire can work, but only if it’s flexible enough to allow the chimes to knock together.
Avoid using yarn. It doesn’t hold up in the weather, and if birds try to take it for nesting, they can get tiny fibers into their respiratory systems, which can be fatal.
As you’re stringing the parts up, pay attention to length. The chimes have to be able to collide with each other or with the optional striker in order to make noise, but not so long that they get tangled.
Fortunately this is easy to fix if you get it wrong, even after you’ve finished your chime. You can cut a different length of fishing wire once you see what you needed and redo the stringing.
You’ll need a drill to make holes in the chimes and strikers, and probably in the base, too. You may also need a very tiny drill bit to make tiny holes, but a slightly larger hole should work in most cases.
Be sure to wear safety goggles when drilling, and keep your face away (or masked) so you don’t breathe in dust from the materials you’re drilling.
You should also sand the hole to get rid of sharp edges that could wear down the fishing line over time. Fine sandpaper will do the trick.
There are so many ways to make wind chimes, and the best part is you can make them out of old and broken items, flea market finds, and even junk you were about to throw away.
- Fishing wire or some other kind of string or wire
- Base for the top the top
- Chime Items
- Fine Sandpaper
- Safety Goggles for drilling
- Optional sealant to protect pieces that won't stand up to weather
- Drill holes in base item.
- Thread fishwire through holes in base.
- If necessary, drill holes in your chime items.
- Thread the fishwire through the holes in the chimes and tie a big fat knot that won't let the chime fall off the string.
- Hang it by the base from a tree limb, fence post, or any kind of hook.