In between major home renovation projects here in Florida, I got the idea to make decorative hanging chimes out of clay. I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I tried anyway. I’m happy to say it actually turned out pretty cool, so I hung it outside over my vintage patio chairs that I refurbished (story below).
I like the repetition in the tone circles and the resemblance to wind chimes. The truth is these strands are not chimes at all as they don’t make any sound, they really are more like a mobile but I associate a cell phone with a baby’s room so I decide to call them chimes instead.
I can also imagine similar sets of tone circles lined up in a linear format like a macrame tapestry. I considered this arrangement but decided to make these look more like wind chimes for the decorative and sculptural effect.
First how to recreate the chime, then the brief history on these vintage patio chairs. I bought all my craft supplies from my local Michaels: 2 packages 2.2 lb air dry modeling clay; 3-ply ivory jute twine; Outdoor acrylic paints in colors of your choice; a 9 inch wooden board and craft brushes. You will also need a rolling pin to flatten the clay; wax paper; Circular household cups/cutters of various sizes; Allen key; paper cups/cups for paint; sanding wedge or foot scrubber (see image below); Power drill with 1/8″ bit for drilling holes in wood panels.
Aaaaaannd… You will also need patience for this project, it took several days from start to finish and six hours of my time. It takes at least an hour to cut the clay, then you have to wait a whole day for them to dry. You can paint them the next day, but you must turn them over and let both sides dry completely. On the third day you can string it together, but that also takes a couple of hours. I gave myself four full days from start to finish, returning to the project for an hour or two each day until it was complete.
Below are the steps, from start to finish. I’m also adding a video to Instagram so you can get an idea of how it comes together. First, roll a few ounces of clay flat, transfer onto wax paper, and use cutting tools to make circles of different sizes. To cut the clay, I used stemless wine glasses, champagne flutes, a salad dressing cap, and the cap from my deodorant to make the bottom oval shape.
After the circles are cut, use an allen wrench to pierce the clay circles with small holes. Let them dry on fresh sheets of wax paper for 12 hours on each side, 24 hours total.
Expect imperfection in the results, that’s part of the charm. 🙂
Once the clay circles are completely dry, smooth the edges. You can either use a medium grit sanding wedge or what I found better was a pedicure foot scrubber!
Once smooth, paint them any color you like. If hanging outdoors, choose outdoor acrylic paint, if hanging indoors, regular acrylic paint is fine.
Outdoor acrylic paints come in limited colors so I mixed up a pistachio green shade and added it to half of the circles.
It was too vivid for me so I painted over the entire circle with a thin layer of white to make it look more faded and beachy. The final color looks to me like a color you would find in saltwater toffee. 🙂
The most time consuming part is the assembly. It took me a full two hours to thread all the clay and then connect it to the wooden board. I had to separate the cord and used 1 strand to attach the clay pieces together and 2 strands to attach them to the wooden panel. Short strands connect the tone circles, a long strand through holes in the plaque comes together to form the upper hanging portion.
To attach the strings of tone circles to the wooden board, use a 1/8-inch drill bit to drill holes in the four corners, four midpoints, and the center of the wooden board. (Not shown). Paint it any color, I chose white.
After two hours of assembly it came together and I hung the clay bells outside. I love how it dances in the wind. I can also see it from the conservatory when I look out the window. It looks very cool when you look at the house from the inside.
It’s a fun focal point on the patio above the vintage patio chairs. If hanging outdoors I recommend hanging in a sheltered area away from direct moisture and only storing it in good weather. I have no idea how long this will take, it’s an experiment. Luckily all the loose strands could be repaired with fresh yarn. 🙂
So…. the story on the chairs! The first week I arrived in Sarasota, I was fortunate enough to spot a vintage finds seller, a dealer who goes to local real estate sales and snags great pieces, then sells them on her eBay store and across the country shipped to the US. I found her by buying a pair of vintage rattan double headboards for our guest room and then discovered she lived in the same town! Then I discovered that she also had a pair of mid-century vintage Russell Woodard chairs, woah, loved those!
These are spun fiberglass chairs from the 1960s, the design is so cool. They fit the mid-century meets coastal style I’m aiming for. I’ve paid $100 each, and they sell for a lot more at Chairish or 1st Dibs. I finished them off with 2 coats of universal white spray paint and then added cushions found here and here. I bought cushions in different sizes because the dimensions of the seats are slightly different.
Pillows from this fabulous Etsy shop. Fluted pink mugs from here. Coral vase/candle holder from a local shop on sale, also spray painted.
Palm cut from my garden. Pictures from my iPhone because I’m lazy. 🙂