Over the last week we've found a local source for the 6" aluminum pipe that will become the massive chimes in our installation and we are having it delivered to the shop next week. They will be arriving in 20 foot lengths and each pipe will weigh a little over 130lbs so we're having to set up for delivery! Also doing some tool maintenance in preparation for the tuning which will start the moment the pipe arrives.
In the meantime, we have been immersing ourselves in the design process (technical drawings, engineers, etc.), pendulum theory, color organ design, etc.
We had a big weekend surrounding the creation of the wind chimes! Around the time of our last update I found a local supplier, Alloy Products Inc., for the 6 Schedule 40 Aluminum Pipe that will become the chimes. In case you dont know, this is an unusually large size aluminum pipe that is made through a process of extruding (imagine putting liquid aluminum in a massive toothpaste tube and squeezing it out
) the metal into the shape of pipe.
As of Friday, we had heard nothing about the delivery of the pipe so we gave them a call. We found out from the owner, Don, the pipe had just arrived and he was going to try to have it delivered on Saturday morning. Saturday morning, the delivery guy, Tom, pulls into the drive in a pickup with several huge pipes on top of his truck. The pipes are 20 long and almost 7 diameter! As we unloaded the pipes (each one weighs about 130lbs), he commented that he was just happy we werent using stainless steel (about 5 times heavier.)
After Tom leaves, I immediately prep to cut the pipe and start the tuning process. Unfortunately, we quickly came to the realization that our metal cutting band saw was not large enough to make the cuts! I immediately began researching options and after a few false starts we decided that we needed to purchase a small industrial size metal cutting band saw. Not something we were planning to do but we saw no other viable alternative. Off to Northern Tool we go to make the purchase. A little while later, as the fork lift loaded the saw into the back of my pickup, I casually asked the driver how much the saw weighed
Anne and I got back to the house and started trying to figure out how to remove this piano sized box from the back of my truck. After a fair bit of finagling Anne turns to me and says, Dont you think it would be better if we had another big man here to help us get this out of the truck? I, reluctantly, agreed that she was probably right. I stood out by the truck for a few minutes scratching my head and wondering how we were going to get this massive box out of the truck before the rain started beating down on us.
Not five minutes after Annes prophetic question, a massive pickup pulls into the driveway and our neighbor, Chris, rolls down the window to ask if we needed help! Before he even finishes the question, Im telling him that of course we could use some help! He jumps out (and yes, he is a big man like me) and we start figuring out how to get the box out. Anne walks up to Chris and says, Are you an angel or something?
Chris says, No maam, just a neighbor.
Within five minutes, the bandsaw is unloaded and in the carport. Problem solved. Luck for us, the saw was basically already assembled and within an hour it was ready to go. Alas, the rain was starting to come down so we were unable to start the tuning process. I did get to run a couple of test cuts using 1-1/2 aluminum pipe and was amazed to see that it cut through the pipe as if it were softened butter
that is when I realized this is going to be lots of fun!
Today, Sunday, we woke up to heavy rains all morning. For anyone who has not been to our shop, it is an odd mixture of indoor and outdoor spaces. This is a great thing most of the time, except when it rains. The pipe is being stored outdoors so there is no way to work it while the rain is coming down. Instead, we studied the weather patterns and planned a spur of the moment trip up to Jackson, TN. You might ask, Why go to Jackson, TN and what in the world could this have to do with making giant wind chimes? That is a bit of a story.
A few years ago I became acquainted with a gentleman by the name of Gregg Payne
through some videos I found on YouTube. Gregg is a California and Arizona based multidisciplinary artist who, like Anne and I, focuses much of his creative energies on public outdoor installations. Gregg is a bit of a specialist in large scale wind chimes and at one time he held the Guiness Book of World Records for the worlds largest set of tuned wind chimes. When I started researching wind chimes in 2010, his were the first and most fascinating that I came across. I contacted him and we began an email conversation that continues to this day. When the opportunity to create our installation came about he and I started up discussions again and he is one of several consultants helping us to realize this project.
And this is how we ended up taking a trip to Jackson, TN. A few years ago he sold a large set of wind chimes to a group in Jackson for a local park. The park is called Liberty Garden Park & Arboretum and they have a small outdoor classroom that is crowned, quite literally, with Greggs chimes. So we took a trip up to see the chimes in person and learn what we could from them. They are a beautiful set of chimes that you can see from a distance when pulling into the parking area. A short walk brings you right up to the chimes and it was quite a wonderful and educational experience to spend an hour interacting with them. This particular set consists of six chimes made of 4 aluminum with the longest chime at about 7 in length. One of the wonderful things about Greggs chimes is that he builds them with the intention that you, the visitor, get to physically manipulate the chimes. They are hung at a low enough level that an adult can grab onto the sail and manipulate the ringing of the chimes. It is really a wonderful experience and I highly recommend it.
It has been an interesting weekend to say the least. Tomorrow, we make the first cut and begin the wonderful process of tuning these chimes! To say I am excited would be grossly downplaying my feelings about this. Ill be lucky to sleep at all tonight!
Loving this work,
We finally got to begin the tuning process! Yesterday, with quite a bit of help from Anne, I was able to make the first cut. Today, I spent several hours cutting, tuning, and testing and managed to get 7 out of 8 chimes prepped. Still lots of work to be done but it is nice to be making the kind of progress that you can see and, more importantly, hear!
Within two days of the last update we were able to finish tuning the chimes. In the meantime we had started some serious research into finishing the chimes. As so often happens whenever we are designing for outdoor environments, we fell back to the marine industry for inspiration. While searching pontoon boat forums I came across a product called Sharkhide. It is specifically designed to keep the aluminum floats (affectionately called toons by people in the know) on pontoon boats looking nice and shiny. I emailed the owner of the company to explain what we were looking for and he immediately got back to us confirmed that his product would be ideal for our application. Anne ended up calling him and they had an hour long conversation discussing our options, after which we placed our order.
Around this time, the weather here in Memphis took a turn for the nasty and we spent the majority of the week with rain and temperatures too low to work with the chemicals involved in finishing. However yesterday was a glorious day and we spent the majority of it (and this morning) outdoors working on the chimes. The finishing of the chimes is a multi-step process that basically follows these steps:
1. File the rough edges of the chimes using an angle grinder with a filing pad installed.
2. Sand away the nastier gouges on the body of the aluminum using a very fine grit paper on the random orbital sander.
3. Clean the aluminum with Sharkhide Aluminum Cleaner, which is a blend of acids and cleaning agents. The action of the cleaner is very similar to hydrogen peroxide only on a much grander scale!
4. Hand-finish the surface to create a brushed finish using a variety of grits of automotive sanding pads.
5. Apply several coats of the Sharkhide Metal Protectant. Well apply 2-3 coats over a period of 3-5 days.
We just applied the first coat of protectant to the first pipe and we are very happy with the way it looks!
Today also saw the arrival of the ¼ stainless steel wire rope and associated hardware. By the end of this week we plan to have at least one pipe hung in a tree. Weve also begun working on the color organ challenge. We acquired a commercial level color organ and high powered LED spotlight and I will be working on testing the system later this week.
Overton Square Chime Update 13.03.15
In the past week we've been putting the aluminum finish on the chimes. Very labor intensive process that Anne has been primarily doing on her own (with my help in moving the pipes around!)
We've also been fine tuning the design for the capital, developing multiple fail-safes for all the chimes, and whimsically designing the sail.
Today we will be test hanging our first chime here at the house. More info and pics/videos coming soon.
Overton Square Chime Update 13.03.25
Color Organs, LED spotlights, Mic Preamps, Shotgun Mics, Solidworks chime design meetings, Electronics design meetings, triple safety backup chime system, blisslights, mdo plywood beaters, stainless steel laser cut beater/hoop/capital, aluminum laser cut third eye sails, 3 chimes in a tree... can we make it 8?
Not much of an update I know, but my mind is just about overloaded from all the research right now...
Overton Square Chimes Update 13.04.08:
If you've been keeping an eye on Sean's Instagram and the FB page, you'll have seen that things were creeping along for a while until the sudden flurry of activity over the weekend and especially today.
Though we've definitely had some manufacturing delays and few posts over the last couple of weeks, we have been completely focused on getting this project ready for delivery! Yesterday we received the hoop structure that will hold the 8 chimes and I assembled it this morning. Then we had to use the pickup to actually lift the hoop, three chimes, temporary beater, and temporary sail! Those items weigh approximately 300lbs. We really need to add one more chime to get a true understanding of how the chimes will ring but we are nervous about the limb that is holding the weight. Not completely sure yet how we are going to address it.
In the meantime, Anne is experimenting with developing a patina for the sail to bring some color and abstraction into the project. We should be picking up the sail tomorrow afternoon which will give us a lot more information on the form the patina will take and how the chimes will actually function.
We've also finally settled on the lights for the project. We're going with outdoor rated LED lights developed for the DJ trade along with a simple DMX controller that is being modified to accept a microphone input. That should be tested later this afternoon.
Keep watching for updates/videos/photos this week as we move into the home stretch of this amazing project!!!
Overton Square Chimes Update 13.04.15:
We're finally into the home stretch for the project! As you can see from our instagram and youtube posts, things have been moving along. We had our last client meeting this morning and everyone is happy and excited about the way things are coming together.
We will be delivering the chimes at the end of this week and with a little luck the installation will take place at the beginning of next week.