BUFFALO NEWS: July 10, 2009
Catching the wind with chimes
By Susan Martin
Published:July 10, 2009, 8:27 AM
When local jewelry designer Karol Kirberger is working at her home studio overlooking her wooded backyard, she can hear the soft sounds of wind chimes.
“That wind chime is a major part of my peace of mind. I have always had them for that reason and so have my friends,” said Kirberger, co-owner of Wild Things on Lexington Avenue.
She also has wind chimes hanging from a tree in the front of her Snyder home.
“I like the totally peaceful, blissful sounds that mine make. Mine have a Zen-like quality that is very calming and lovely,” she said.
Wind chimes add the element of sound to a garden. While neighbors may not always agree, many people find their melodic sounds quite soothing.
Wind chimes come in many materials –bamboo, metal, glass, wood, ceramic and more –and many are quite artistic. Sizes vary greatly, with some of the smallest making just the faintest of sounds.
And people have their preferences. “I like the bamboo ones; I like the sound of them. I don’t have any, but my neighbor has three of them. I love it when I can hear them. They are just more subtle; they sound more natural,” said John M. Hochadel, a local florist and Garden Walk Buffalo veteran.
Wind chimes are widely available at garden centers, gift shops and art festivals as well as online and in gardening catalogs. You can even make your own with a little help from Home and Garden Television and other do-it-yourself resources.
Wind chimes also fit into the larger trends of creating outside “rooms” as well as meditation and sanctuary gardens. Similarly, they are an element in feng-shui gardening.
“Wind chimes will move energy any time you feel stagnant, when there’s a need to start the flow again,” according to one article on
. “I see more and more Asian influences with the wind chimes,” said Joan Ess, owner of Alexandra gifts and jewelry, which recently relocated to 5326 Main St., Williamsville, with a second location in Ellicottville.
People also are drawn to bells and gongs, she said, and wind chimes of all styles have become popular gifts for Christmas and weddings. Her wind chimes range in price from $30 to $90.
Among the store’s offerings are glass chimes as well as Woodstock Chimes, a popular line of precision-tuned wind chimes including Amazing Grace Chimes, which play the tones heard in the opening measures of the popular hymn.
Before selecting chimes as a gift, just be sure the recipients have a place to hang them.
That has been a problem for Hochadel. His sister gave him gorgeous wind chimes that measure about 4 feet long, but he does not have a high enough spot to hang it.
And wind chimes are not just for outdoors. Some people hang them inside as well. The key is to hang them in a place that catches the breezes — but not near your neighbors’ bedroom window.
Buffalo resident Elaine S. Friedhaber has several wind chimes in her garden.
“My husband loves them. I have a tungsten steel one that my nephew gave me and an aluminum one with the different tones I bought for my husband one year,” she said.
Daintier styles include lady bugs and a teapot/teacup design.
“Some have been up in the trees so long they are hard to see,” said Friedhaber, who also participates in Garden Walk Buffalo.
Another wind chime on the porch, partially blocked by the house, sounds off only when a storm is coming.
The outdoor chimes have weathered beautifully, she said.
She especially enjoys hearing the soft tinkling during the night, she said. But none of them is loud.
“There are no big clunkers you would rattle to let people know it’s time to come home for dinner,” she said.
In addition to adding sound, wind chimes also add a visual element to the home and garden.
They can tie into a decorative theme you are trying to create, said Robin Strauss, a Grand Island artist who makes colorful glass wind chimes. Florals, birds or nautical themes, for example.
Still, they are not for everybody, she said.
“Some people love them. Some people hate them,” Strauss said.
And, oftentimes, people with the varying opinions are married to each other.
Tree sap also can mar the beauty of a wind chime and spider webs and wasp nests have been known to show up inside the tubes of hanging chimes.
An important tip: Always follow the designer or manufacturer’s guide for caring for your wind chimes, which will vary with material, etc.
Finally, as for the neighbors, here is one tip we came across that may ease your mind after hanging wind chimes: After a few breezy days, ask your neighbors how they like your new wind chimes.
If they answer: “What wind chimes?,” stop worrying.
And another tip from Kirberger: On very windy days, take them down.