Saturday, July 14, 2012

How To Make a Bottle Cap Wind Chime

I am on a wind chime making frenzy! I just can't help myself. Something about found objects has been really inspiring to me lately. It all started with a crushed up beer can and some old shards of glass, but I couldn't stop there- I had to do more with this idea. I decided to experiment with some materials I saw show up very often when I scoured the internet for wind chime inspiration: bottle caps. I spied some great examples from various sources.....

This bottle cap wind chime by Pia Chaib
is so famous on Pinterest right now!
By Katrina Woerner

By Green Products
I definitely wanted to make one of these things, but I didn't want to leave my readers out of all the fun. So, I've decided to make this tutorial explaining how I created my own interpretation of the bottle cap wind chime. Let's get started, shall we?

Instead of throwing them away,  
mi amigos now drop their caps into
this re purposed coffee can.
Pretty crafty, eh?
 1. Collect your Bottle Caps

To make a moderately sized wind chime you will need to collect at least 40 to 50 caps. My wind chime ended up with over 70 caps in all. The exact amount will vary depending on how big you want your finished product to be. But heck, even if you run out of caps there are plenty of ways to improvise.

Personally, I happen to have a good connection when it comes to bottle caps supply- Many of my friends and family are beer enthusiasts that provide a steady stream of interesting caps.

It doesn't take long to collect enough bottle caps for your wind chime. I easy accumulated enough to fill the entire container within a month or so.

 2. Other Supplies You'll Need
 This is where you get to be creative. Exactly which additional materials you'll need depends on your personal taste and vision for your project. Gather up a variation of the following items:

  • Metal Wire- You need this to link your bottle caps together. I used a thick aluminum 10 gauged wire, but you can also use thin 24 gauge (or any other size of you like.) You can pick this stuff up at any craft store or even Wal-Mart. Some wind chimes utilized circular metal hoops, like the ones used in jewelry making, but I found that wire was a lot cheaper and simpler to work with. By the way, you will also need some pliers and wire cutters (or scissors.) Don't ruin your hands by trying to manually bend the wires! These tools will make your life easier, trust me.
  • Center Piece- This will be your base that you attach all your bottle cap links to. It just needs to be a sturdy and intriguing item. I encourage you to use a recycled found object! These random pieces of "junk" can end up being the perfect fit for your wind chime. Some great examples of center pieces include a vegetable steamer, An old CD, tree branch, tin cans, metal strainer, or like in my case, some salvaged gears from my old bicycle.
  • Piercing Tool- Something to put holes in your bottle caps. The best options I found were either a hammer and punch or an electric drill, but I'm sure there can be others methods that work as well.
2. Making the Holes
 Use a hammer and punch or a drill with a small bit, depending on your preference and availability. 

Drills are faster, but leave a jagged edge around your
cap's holes. Punches provide a much cleaner hole, but
require more effort, and can bend the bottle cap
if not pierced properly.

I'm going to assume that you already basically know how to use the hole punching tools, or know someone who does.

It's pretty simple- lay the bottle cap flat face down on a piece of scrap wood (NOT your mom's favorite table!) and drill or punch the hole in near the edge of the cap.
Protip: Don't drill or puncture your hand, that would suck! Remember to be careful with this step. Don't be afraid to ask for help (I know I did.)

3. Constructing the Chains
Once all your bottle caps have holes in them, it's time to make the chains. Take your wire and cut a moderately short length. How much wire exactly is up to you, depending on how long you'd like each chain link to be. For the record, my wires were cut probably around 2-1/2 inches long.

 In my opinion, it's easiest to just eyeball it and adjust the chain links until you find a length that's pleasing to you. After you find a good chain link size, go ahead and cut out a few extra wire pieces- you'll need them.

Hook the length of wire through the bottle cap's hole. Leave one end with a long "tail." You'll be using this extra wire to attach the second bottle cap.

Wrap the length of wire around itself.

Tightly secure the wrapped wire. Use pliers to press the loop closed so the bottle cap will not fall off.
One bottle cap hooked on. 
Now, repeat this process with the remaining length of wire and another bottle cap.
One bottle cap chain link complete!
Continue attaching the links together until you've reached
the desired length of your wind chime. I ended up using
six or seven bottle caps for each chain.

4. Attaching the Chains & Center Piece
This step may vary a little depending on what you used as your center piece. You will have to find a way to hook the centerpiece and the chains together with the wire. In some cases, like this particular project, it's fairly easy to wrap the wire around the base. Unlike my last wind chime project, where I had to drill holes into my center piece in order to attach the chains.

To hang my wind chime I made a weaving out of fishing wire around the bike gear and tied it off at the end. Simple, quick and effective. A piece of fishing line or regular wire would work, too.
All of the chains finally attached to the center piece.  My wind chime is now complete!
5. The Finished Product

The metal disks I used on the bottom of my wind chime are from cans of dough. I love the rusty patina they're developing after being exposed to the outdoors. A few random found object additions to your bottle cap wind chime can really create a nice embellishment. Plus, your bottle caps will make more sounds when they bump up against these items.

 If you want your wind chime to look "fuller,"
you could easily add more bottle cap chains
down the middle to make it look more dense.
Personally, I chose to only add chains to the
outside of my center piece, but I may go
back and add additional chains one day soon.

Serving up bottle cap realness.
If you end up using this tutorial for help, I wanna see your finished wind chimes! And as always, if you have any questions at all about this subject, by all means leave me a comment.