Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Glass and Copper Wind Chime, Coast Chimes

Glass and copper art wind chime, handcrafted by Coast Chimes
Glass and Copper Wind Chime Coast Chimes

With warm weather finally here, I am back to increasing my glass collection, and I have some recent absolutely gorgeous pieces. The wind chime pictured above is a prime example of that!

I have a lot of knock-out cobalt blue glass, some super greens, and the golden above.

It is wonderful to have lots more selection to choose from as I assemble my wind chimes and suncatchers.

Some people are fearful of glass wind chimes, thinking they may be fragile. My glass is thick, and actually very strong. I have a few wind chimes that I made 20 years ago that have been hanging outside year round, through wind, snow, rain, sun, and they still look just as amazing as the day I made them.

To see all my wind chimes and suncatchers, visit my website: Coast Chimes

Saturday, April 23, 2016

New Wind Chimes, Freestanding

Freestanding wind chime with a natural Pacific beach stone base, glass, copper
Freestanding Double Wind Chime
Natural Pacific Beach Stone Base
Glass and Copper
Find it at Coast Chimes

Even after over 20 years of making unique high-quality creations for the home and garden, it amazes me what I come up with. Look at this wind chime!

I love using natural materials, and beach stones are right at the top of the list. They make such an excellent base for freestanding wind chimes. The only drawback is that they are obviously very heavy for shipping-- but that is not much of a problem for my customer, since I pay most of the postage (all my works ship for a flat $10 charge to the customer, even when the actual postage is closer to $100).

This type of wind chime is ideal for placing on a deck or patio, or, even better, bury the stone part way in your rock garden. So beautiful! It is not bothered at all by snow, rain, sun or wind. Simply enjoy it!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Kaleidoscope Sea Glass Wind Chimes with Five Copper Chimes

Handcrafted kaleidoscope wind chime with five copper chimes, Coast Chimes
Handcrafted Kaleidoscope Wind Chime
Five Copper Chimes
Beach Stone Clapper
Coast Chimes

When the sun shines through the glass in this wind chime, you are treated to a kaleidoscope of colour. Beautiful!

I have been making my kaleidoscope wind chimes for about 20 years, and they are popular. In fact, I better learn to keep a better eye on my stock, as the last week an order came in, and I found out I had none left!

Fortunately, I had a good supply of the small artist-made sea glass pieces to fill the box, and also the copper chimes already made— those chimes are extremely labour intensive, and so it would have been quite some time before having more in stock, if I did not have some of them already made. I could put together the box kaleidoscope sections in not too much time, so I fulfilled the order, and have a few extras back in stock. You can find them in the Kaleidoscope section of my website: Coast Chime Kaleidoscope Wind Chimes.

I noticed that I am also starting to run short on the copper section; the actual chimes. So that is the next priority. They are the most beautiful sets of chimes, but they do take an awfully long time to make. Cutting and drilling the roundels, making all the hardware (copper hooks and rings), fetching and cutting the copper, double sanding / brushing and treating the copper... so many steps. But worth it, as the final result is in one word: awesome!

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Natural Pacific Driftwood and Beach Stone Wind Chimes

Natural Pacific beach stone and driftwood wind chime with five large copper chimes.
Natural Pacific Driftwood Wind Chime
Beach Stone
5 Large Copper Chimes

I've started putting together some cool new wind chimes with the beach stones and driftwood from my recent beach combing working holiday to the west coast of Vancouver Island and Washington State. These are such wonderful materials! The stones are so nicely rounded and shaped; the driftwood hard and smooth.

You can find these new works, and plenty of older wonderful ones too, on my website by going to the Beach Stone pages and the Driftwood pages.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Wild West Coast, Olympic Peninsula Beach Combing

Olympic Peninsula beach
Olympic Peninsula, Wild West Coast, Beach Combing Paradise

I started 25 years ago making wind chimes and sun catchers from sea glass and copper. I still make them from those materials, but I now use a lot of beach stone and driftwood too.

I used to think that our local Sunshine Coast beaches were perhaps the best in the world for beach stones, and okay for driftwood. Last year I discovered that some beaches along the open west coast are far superior for these materials. I just got back from yet another wonderful week of beach combing in this area, and this time I took plenty of stones and wood back home with me.

I can't wait to get started on a fresh collection of wild west coast wind chimes, using these materials.

Visit my website to see the sort of works I do using natural materials: 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Olympic Peninsula, Beautiful, Beautiful Area

Olympic Peninsula, March 2016
Olympic Peninsula, March 2016

Last year at this time I quickly passed through the Olympic Peninsula.I was amazed by the beauty. I was also so impressed by the beach stones and driftwood (I use both to make wind chimes). I took a little of my beach combing finds home with me last year, and immediately regretted both not spending more time on the Peninsula, and also not taking home more raw materials.

So I went back.

The Olympic Peninsula truly is one of the most awesome areas I have ever explored. And it definitely has some of the finest beach stones and driftwood I have ever enjoyed discovering. This year, I took home plenty for my work, and I am so excited to soon start making things. You can see the types of things I make with these materials on my website: Coast Chimes.

Nine days of hiking, fine resorts, beach combing was not enough. I probably have to go back next year!

Friday, March 04, 2016

Bird Feeder Deluxe Handcrafted Wind Chime

Deluxe handcrafted cedar and copper bird feeder wind chime by Coast Chimes
Handcrafted Cedar and Copper Bird Feeder Wind Chime

Every year I make 5 or 6 bird feeder wind chimes. I look forward to making them (I usually sell out well before the end of the year). I just finished this years crop-- and I am exceptionally proud of them.

I love the design: so simple, so perfect. The 4 sided top actually started out, years ago, as a desktop lamp! I used to make pretty much the same design, fill the box with sea glass, and have a light bulb and nice shade on the top (no bird perches on that one, though!). It was cool lamp, but eventually I got a bit hesitant about shipping out electrical things, since I'm not a licensed electrician. That lamp design turned into this bird feeder.

Every year I have had months to mull over the design, and while the basic form is wonderful I always make small changes for the better. Most of these have to do with strength. This years batch is without a doubt the best ever-- the lid is more secure, there is more strength everywhere: extremely solid. And extremely beautiful!

You can find them in on my website here: bird feeder wind chime

Or in my Etsy store here: bird feeder wind chime

Or on Amazon here: bird feeder wind chime

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Winterlude 2016

Mountain goat ice sculpture, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 2016
Mountain Goat Ice Sculpture
Ottawa Ontario Canada
Winterlude 2016

Absolutely amazing what artists are able to accomplish with ice, as I discovered during this past weekend during a trip to Ottawa Ontario. Despite the unusually warm temperatures, coming from the Pacific Coast it seemed plenty cold enough to me, and it was cold enough for most of the ice sculptures to remain more-or-less intact. The one that most impressed me was this one of mountain goats. Just beautiful!

We went to Ottawa not for the sculptures or other Winterlude festivities, but because my wife has always wanted to skate on the Rideau Canal. A few days before leaving for Ottawa, the canal was open. As soon as we booked the tickets, they had to close it. It remained closed for the entire weekend. On the day following our return to BC, it opened. Such is life.

For me, it was still awesome to visit a wintery place (we have had zero snow here on the Sunshine Coast this winter). It was so much fun to walk around in the cold, snow lightly falling. A visit over the bridge to Gatineau was very special as well. It was a treat to be able to use my rusty French.

My only regret is that I wish I had known that Ottawa has Uber. We used taxis, and I must say the experience was universally awful. The drivers never knew how to get to where we wanted to go (although these were always major destinations in a small city), they hardly spoke English or French, they were often borderline rude. From now on, wherever I travel, I will certainly remember to check and see if Uber is available.

Friday, January 22, 2016

From Raw Cedar to Gorgeous Bird Feeder Wind Chime

Rough cut Pacific Cedar, 2 X 6 boards, soon to be a bird feeder, Coast Chimes
Rough Cut 2 X 6 Cedar Boards
Soon to be a Beautiful Bird Feeder Wind Chime

Beautiful Red Cedar and Copper Bird Feeder, Coast Chimes
Red Cedar and Copper Bird Feeder Wind Chime
Coast Chimes

My four sided deluxe cedar bird feeder wind chime is always popular. But despite being on the expensive side, they are not very profitable for me: they use a lot of expensive materials, and even more time.

I start with raw rough cedar, as pictured in the first image above. You can imagine how many saw it takes to make the finished feeder!

Every year I make 4 - 5 of feeders, all at the same time, as it is a little more efficient to build a few all at once. It is enjoyable to build something this complex and where great attention must be paid to exact measurements. I'm proud of them! But when I am done for the year, I am done. No matter if they sell out early in the year, or later, I don't build more for that year. The reason for this is that there is only one fairly slow part of the year (February and part of March), and after that, there simply is not enough free time to build these properly.

It always feels good when I have a few in stock. This year, with luck, they will probably be back on my website mid-February.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Crafter vs Artist

Red, purple, clear glass kaleidoscope wind chime with copper chime by Coast Chimes
Colorful Cedar Framed Glass
Five Copper Chimes
Available at Coast Chimes
Pictured above is one of my new wind chimes-- very bright and colorful! Eye-catching! When the sunlight shines through the glass, you are treated to a kaleidoscope of color.

I've often pondered about the difference between a crafter and an artist, and I think I have it figured it out. I know some potters who are excellent crafters; but in my book they are not artist. They make gorgeous well made plates, cups, tea pots etc., and they paint with their glaze artistic squiggles. But they are content for years and years to do the same thing: same color of glaze, same squiggles, same cups. I don't believe an artist could ever do this: they would go mad.

An artist has a deep need to do something different; to experiment,  to turn the world sideways, to play.

That is where something like the ruby red and soft purple glass comes in, as featured in the wind chime above. It's not turning my world upside down, and my customers can likely accept, perhaps even like it as something different from my usual. But changing colors does satisfy my need to not always do the same thing over, and over and...

I consider myself an artist rather than a crafter. Not for me the same pot, the same glaze, the same squiggle. It does not really matter, as I have nothing against crafters, and I know some excellent ones. But I do find the difference interesting, and I do wonder how someone can do the same plate with the same glaze over and over.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Natural Beauty of Sunshine Coast BC Inspires Wind Chime Artist Coast Chimes

Rounded beach stones along the shore of the Pacific, Gibsons BC Canada
Round Smooth Beach Stone Flow
Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

One thing is certain: The Sunshine Coast, BC, is all about natural beauty.  I've lived here for 25 years, and still get wowed by the beauty almost everyday.

The longer I live here, the more grateful I am, as I realize how this natural beauty influences my work as an artist. Not only do I use the natural resources, such as rounded smooth beach stones and driftwood in my wind chime designs, but I know my love of rounded edges and sea glass comes directly from hikes along the shore and through the woods. Nature knows a thing or two about design, and all I have to do is look closely and try to get some of the elements I see in the natural world into my own designs.

You can see how the  naturally Pacific Coast beauty has influenced my work by checking out my website. Probably the Beach Stone section or Driftwood section would be a great place to start.

Snowy mountains across from Gibsons, BC, Sunshine Coast
Snowy Mountains
Seen From Gibsons BC Canada

Saturday, January 09, 2016

New Website: Coast Chimes

Screen shot of part of the homepage of Coast Chimes new website
Coast Chimes: New Website
WWW. Coast Chimes

I've made half a dozen different websites for Coast Chimes, starting back 20 years ago. They have ranged from okay to not very good. The further back in time you go, the more easily one could get away with a sloppy website, as at the start people did not expect much! These days, you better have a pretty decent website if you hope to sell.

Today you need to go beyond just okay. You have a fraction of a second to grab the attention of the new visitor, a visitor with a very critical eye, or their finger hits the back button and goodbye potential customer.

Even without any prior website building experience, I believe any artist-crafter could build a fairly decent looking website using Shopify without too many headaches. Taking that website beyond the basic shop to where I feel a website needs to be in today's competitive world will be more challenging.

After my basic shop was up, I felt like I hit a wall. I had ideas I wanted to implement, but the supporting documentation for Shopify was frankly scary complex, and I was scared of really messing up my website.

I approached several experts for hire. Prices were far steeper than I had hoped they would be (in the thousands was not unusual). Also, very few provided a clear vision of what they hoped to accomplish for my site. Why would I hire them if they had no vision? Do they do the same site for a seller of imported plastic toys as for an artist?

So I got thinking, and decided the first thing I should do is figure out exactly what I wanted for my site. That way, I could tell the experts what I needed, and they could tell me if they could do it, and how much it would cost. This seemed a much better approach than my initial: 'my site is a mess, how much to fix it?'.

However, after figuring out what I wanted for my site, I realized that maybe, just maybe, I could tackle this thing myself. So defining what was needed helped enormously. A logo was number one, as everyone says this is extremely important. They also say it is a big deal, and a job for a professional. This can cost in the hundreds, easily. Wanting everything as simple and clean as possible for my own site, I did my own simple and clean logo. It took me 15 minutes. I doubt it is up to professional standards, but I think it looks fine.

The biggest challenge was to arrange all my stock into different collections, and make clickable buttons (rather than visitors having to scroll through 12 pages of mixed stock). I decided on 9 categories, and got busy reading how to make collections in the Shopify help section. It seemed overwhelmingly complex, but once I got going, following each step in the instructions as I went along, it turned out to be not too bad after all. Then I just made small buttons from pictures I already had handy (a picture of driftwood, for example, for my driftwood section), figured out how to place these on my homepage using a grid, and made links. Not bad at all.

Could someone with zero website building experience accomplish this? Probably, given enough patience, asking for help on forums, being bold and trying. I would say the written instructions make things sound a lot harder than the reality, which is often the case with technical things.

So instead of spending a thousand dollars or more, I got to learn some cool things, I got the satisfaction of doing it myself, and, most importantly, I got a much better looking website that I am proud of and happy with.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Sunshine Coast, BC, Gibsons

View of Coastal snow covered mountains, Gibsons, BC, Canada
View of Snow Covered Coastal Mountains
From Gibsons, BC, Sunshine Coast, Canada

Most of my yearly sales are online, and about half of those sales are for Christmas: pre-Christmas is a very busy time for Coast Chimes. So I didn't much mind that the skies were grey, the clouds dumping rain during November and early December. But what a treat to have those skies clear and the local mountains snow dusted for this quieter, post-Christmas period! Most of the packing and shipping is done, and I have time to head out, take long walks, and enjoy the scenery.

I walk along the beach, and dream up new ideas for the weeks ahead, when I plan to devote time to creating new works to replenish my stock.

I see these mountains, this ocean, the beach, the trees, and feel so grateful to live here. Of course, I am also pleased to be able to retrieve many fine natural resources from the shoreline-- the stones, the driftwood, the sea glass. From this nature I get my inspiration and lots of my materials. What a pleasure!