Tuesday, February 17, 2009

DIY #2 Wire Wrapped Windchimes

Around here we're at that part of Winter that feels like a long, cold stretch. I know that Spring is a few weeks away, but everything is still cold, brittle and gray looking. At our house we've fired up the grow lights and started the seedlings, but still, a little bit of color outside wouldn't be a bad thing.

I was puttering around the patio with O'Neill and noticed that our windchimes were practically blending in with the branches of the trees. They've never been the most colorful things. They were jet black wrought iron when we got them new at an iron and brass goods store near Horse Cave, Kentucky many years ago. Over time, we've either sprayed them with poly to retard rusting or sprayed them bright colors to add some punch to the back patio before the flowers bloom.

This year I decided to do anything to them that didn't involve spray paint. Having a bunch of craft wire helped. I bought a big box of the stuff that sat here for a long time and found it hard to work because it was coated wouldn't solder. For this project, I would say go for cheap. A thrift store or building salvage place might have wire for a lot less than the hobby shops. Don't shy away from bags of "tangles". They're not that difficult to rehab for use. Still no access to wire or not enough wire? Try using garden twine or yarn, either by itself or alternating with wire. How long will this last? Maybe a season, but then you're going to want to do something different next year, anyway.

So, let's get down to business. Here's what you'll need:

a windchime with rigid embellishments that can be wrapped with wire

enough wire and/or string to wind around every part you want to cover. (Sorry I can't be more specific. The length and thickness of the part to decorate will vary.)

hot glue (if you're using string)

a pair of wire clippers

a pair of pliers that can be used to flatten and crimp wire

(Note on the pliers and clippers: Craft stores sell sets of jewelry making tools that include the same kinds of tools pictured above. You can often get them for less than half what the hobby store charge at your local discount store. I paid six dollars for a set of wire tools with a nice plastic case at a discount store.)

To start, pick a starting point, preferably at a corner if your chime design has one, and either glue one end of your length of string or wind your wire around a few times.

If you are using wire, you might want to anchor one end with your finger and grasping the other end with the crimping pliers, pull the other end tight, wrap it around and crimp it against the metal.

Then you can wrap the rest of it, crimping the end when you've either come to the end of that piece or you want to change colors or textures. (Yikes! Please ignore the epoxy under my nails!)

Then work your way around until you're done! Hey, it's pretty simple, really.

Note: Most metal yard pieces have imperfections, bumps, etc. Don't sweat these or try to make a perfect wrap around them. You'll just drive yourself crazy and run out of supplies. They'll look fine if you go around them.

After all, this is about lovely handmade stuff that makes your home an expression of who you are.

copyright 2009 jas faulkner