Monday, May 26, 2014

Protecting Your Suncatcher Patterns

Protecting your suncatcher patterns for future use is a simple task if you don't mind investing in a laminating machine.

When I first got into making stained glass projects many years ago, I ruined a lot of patterns and wasted a lot of time re-cutting when they became damaged or wet from using the grinder.

Through trial and error,  I quickly learned that you can re-use your patterns longer by cutting them out of heavier card stock.

To re-use your favorite patterns  for a much longer period of time, I started using wide, clear packing tape on both sides of the pattern for protection.

This works well, but for using a pattern over and over again without having to pay any special attention to it, laminate your pieces.

This way when using the grinder you can lift the wet glass straight on to the laminated pattern and it will easily slide into place without damaging the pattern.

A thermal laminator is a great investment and is easy to use on almost any thickness of card stock.

The machines allow you to laminate your patterns into various thicknesses.

If you plan to use a pattern numerous times for commercial type applications, laminate your pattern to 10 mil.  A 3 mil or 5 mil thicknesses is sufficient for most hobby work.

Thick card stock can get expensive when you are working on many different types of projects.

You can keep down the cost by going to your local print shop and asking them to keep a box of scrap card stock cut offs for you.

Most print shop operators will not have a problem doing this for you and will most likely not even charge you for it.

When you're working on a project, you can protect your patterns and keep them together in sandwich type to gallon size zip lock freezer bags.

Tape the pieces to the bag as you cut out each piece.  This also protects your laminated patterns from excessive moisture when using your grinder or wet circular saw.

Arts & Craft Books

Thursday, May 8, 2014

How to Make Wind Chimes For Use With Your Stained Glass Suncatchers

Learning how to make wind chimes for use with your stained glass suncatcher hangings is not difficult once you have the basics down pat.

Wind chimes have been around for a long time and are used throughout the world not only for their aesthetic value but as a holistic source of mind healing.

The tones emitted by wind chimes vary considerably.  They can be gentle low bongs, to low whistles, to high pitched tings and clacks.  The material that the wind chime is made of determines what type of sound is emitted.

One thing you can be certain of is that listening to any type of wind chime will give you a feeling of peace and tranquility.

Learning how to make stained glass suncatcher wind chimes was covered in a previous post so we will not rehash that subject.  Instead, we will concentrate on how to make wind chimes to hang from your stained glass projects.

Fortunately, making your own wind chimes is a very inexpensive proposition.  You can use items you already have around your home or are ready to pitch to the scrap heap.

Regardless of the materials used, almost all round wind chimes follow the same basic design pattern, with a four part construction sequence.
Round Pipe Wind Chime
  • The "lid"
  • The center "banger"
  • The lower wind "catcher"
  • The surrounding "chimes"
The center mounted wind catcher is comprised of a "banger" attached to a lower wind "catcher"

The center "banger" hangs in the middle of the wind chime and bangs into the surrounding sound producing materials (chimes) as the wind "catcher" is moved around by the wind.

The "lid":

Because most wind chimes are circular in design, you need a lid at the very top of your wind chimes to spread apart the sound producing materials.  Without a lid of some sort you would have a tangled mess.

Pick any colorful round lid for this purpose.  If you don't have one of the color you desire, pull out a can of spray paint and give it a shot of paint to your liking.

When your lid is dry, locate the center and punch a tiny hole through it with an awl.

Next, slide a piece of fishing monofilament or nylon thread through the hole and tie a bulky knot in it on the top side of the lid.

Measure the monofilament or thread to the length you desire and cut it.

Next, decide on how many hanging chimes you are going to use in your wind chime.

The number should be even numbered; 2, 4, 6, 8 or more in order to maintain balance.

Each hanging chime should have another chime hanging directly opposite to it.

Lay out the position of the holes needed on the outside of the lid and punch the holes through the lid as evenly as possible with the awl.

The center "banger":

The next step is to install the center "banger" of choice in the center of the lid.

The material you choose for the "banger" is important.

It must be of sufficient mass and hard enough to create a noise when it hits the chime material, yet light enough to be easily pulled into the surrounding chimes by the lower wind catcher.

If it is too large or too heavy, the wind catcher below will not be able to move the "banger" with the breeze and the wind chimes will not work effectively.

Once you have a suitable material, (preferably something round or circular) install your chosen banger at the center point of the center string in the lid.

The lower wind "catcher":

that is surrounded by several chimes.   The beautiful sounds you hear are made when the banger is pulled by the lower wind pickup into the sound producing chimes.

Just below the "banger" at the base of the center string, install your wind catcher.

The wind catcher can be anything that has the ability to catch a breeze.  Anything with a large flat surface will work just fine as long as it has some weight to it.

A wide piece of stained glass, a small plastic lid or even a large cut off spoon will work just fine.

The surrounding "chimes":

The next step is to hang the chimes at the proper distance from the lid and at the same height as the center "banger".

The hanging height is important because in order to make the chime sound pleasant, the center "banger" must be able to hit the chimes with enough force to create a pleasing sound.

To give your finished wind chimes a unique look, the string length of your chimes can vary but in order to work properly, it must be balanced.

If you have one chime 6" long, the chime opposite it should also be 6" long if it is made from the same material.

If using hollow pipe, bamboo, etc. you can vary the lengths of each chime to offset the weight and length of each piece of string.  This gets a bit complicated and requires a lot of trial and error to keep everything in balance.

If you use the same materials and match up the lengths of each chime with the chime opposite it, you should have no problems.

Drill holes through the tops of each of the chimes and the wind catcher before you attach them to the string.  This way they will hang evenly when the job is complete.

Hanging the Wind Chime to the Suncatcher:

Punch two more holes in the lid spaced evenly apart from the center.  Slide a length of monofilament through one hole and tie a large knot at the bottom to hold it in place.

Measure the amount of mono you want for the hanging loop, and cut it to length.  Then thread the end of the monofilament through the second hole and again tie a large knot to hold.

Your wind chime is now complete and can be hung alone or from the bottom ring of your reinforced stained glass suncatcher project.

Sit back and let the sounds of the chimes heal your soul.

Arts & Craft Books