Wind Chimes 101

by Mike Mann
People of all ages enjoy wind chimes

People of all ages enjoy wind chimes

Hemera Technologies/ Images

Wind chimes are decorative accessories that create melodic sounds when moved by the wind. They are used to create a relaxing and soothing atmosphere in both outdoor and indoor living spaces, and come in many shapes, sizes and designs. Wind chimes can be constructed from a variety of materials such as aluminum, copper, glass and bamboo, each giving a unique appearance and sound.


The most common wind chime design consists of a ring at the top with several strings spreading out to a larger horizontal ring below it. From this larger ring, tube strings hang vertically with sound tubes/rods suspended from them. A striker is suspended in the center of the tubes, and beneath the striker a wind catcher is attached. Air moves the wind catcher, causing the striker to make contact with the sound tubes to produce sound.


The Chinese created the first wind bells, called "feng-ling," by casting bells and hanging them around 1100 B.C. They used them in the art of feng shui and arranged the bells in ways they believed helped achieve harmony and balance. Later societies and religions used them to attract kind and benevolent spirits and drive away evil ones. The use of chimes spread to Western countries in the 19th and 20th centuries, and today they are popular worldwide.


Ideally, a wind chime should be hung in an area that allows the wind to reach it from several different directions. Corners of houses, sheds or barns make good locations. Keep in mind that the wind tends to blow slightly more at higher elevations. Check to make sure the chime can move around freely without contacting any other surface. Also, it's important that the chime is securely fastened by the top ring to prevent a strong gust from blowing it to the ground.


When caring for your wind chime, it's important to keep and follow the instructions that came with it. Indoor chimes should not be placed outdoors, and outdoor chimes work best when placed outdoors. Cleaning methods and materials will vary as chimes are made of several different materials; what works on one may damage another. Avoid using abrasive or sharp cleaning tools to keep shiny surfaces looking that way. Inspect your wind chime strings regularly for wear or damage and replace when necessary.


Wind chimes are available in so many shapes and sizes and made out of such a wide variety of materials that finding one to suit your desires should be easy. They can be pleasing to look at as well as creating relaxing and comforting sounds, adding to the ambiance of any living space. Proper location, care and maintenance will help ensure the wind chimes give many years of pleasure.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images