Thursday, August 20, 2009

Research and Development, Coast Chimes

Click on the image to see it larger.
Cobalt Blue Glass with Aged Brass Chimes
Now with vastly improved sound.

You would think after fourteen years of making wind chimes, my research and development would be pretty much history. Not at all.

About a month ago I made several significant changes to the large copper chime section of my big wind chimes. This resulted in a more elegant look, improved sound, and less soldering.

For many years I have struggled with the small chimes on my suncatchers. Originally I used massed produced aluminum chimes, but I did not like using something mass produced, and I did not like the aluminum. I then spent many hours thinking about and experimenting with small diameter copper, with mixed results. I went back and forth between copper and aluminum, and was never satisfied.

At last I determined that I simply could not tolerate the aluminum chimes with my beautiful copper and glass. For a short while I thought I had a solution, which was simply taking enormous care crafting the mini-copper chimes, and getting my son to tie them onto my handcrafted copper hangers with heavy nylon line. Sadly, the line tended not to hold up, and that obviously would not do. Back to the drawing board.

Next I decided to use kidney ear wires to attach the chimes to my hangers. They looked wonderful, and they were clearly on for life. The one snag was that the sound was not very good, but I rationalized this, thinking three chimes in a row are never going to make much sound, anyway. I was not happy, but I thought they were good enough. I went for looks and durability above sound.

I got a wake up call when some drop-in customers came with a young boy. The boy was hopping around playing with all my work, and he was commenting as he went. Several times he made a comment about not much sound from the mini chimes. Children are so honest!

So I determined to slay this monster once and for all — back to research and development. I bought a lot of different types of materials, and decided to work on this until I was 100% satisfied. That's what my customers deserve, and that is what I expect of myself, too.

I am pleased to say that I have finally found the perfect solution. My new system to attach the mini-chimes is very strong, and the resonance is as good or better than with just plain nylon. Win, win.

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