Windchimes: A Family Affair

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As the temperature drops and the seasons turn to winter, the serene song of the windchimes intertwines with the sound of the rustling leaves falling from their treetops. Bill and Shirley Kennedy of ‘Chimes by B and S’ create this music from the comfort of their own home, and there is actually more that goes into creating a windchime than you would think. And, it all started in the early 1990’s. Shirley, a Navy Veteran, and her husband Bill were yard-saling in Florida when Shirley saw the windchimes that started it all.

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The windchimes belonged to a woman who handmade them in a shop behind her house. Awestruck by the sweet musical melody of the tones and the beautiful dancing colors on the chimes, Shirley remembers ”They were beautiful, inspiring, and one day… we were going to make windchimes!” So she did just that. In 2015, Bill and Shirley tossed around the idea of learning the windchimes trade, and in 2016 they had their business name, business license, and opened shop in their basement and a Quonset Hut behind the house. “My mom is involved in it, my dad and I talked about it before he passed, my son here does a lot for us, and my son and his family in Japan. We even have meetings with my brothers, sisters, and nieces. It’s a family affair.” Now, Chimes by B and S creates handmade and hand-painted wind chimes, custom to fit the individual’s personality, style, and interests.

Bill does the metal work and the layout, while Shirley does the stringing and painting. “There is a lot of research that goes into this process. We couldn’t have done this without the people who have helped us and shared their knowledge with us along the way.” Lee Hite from Cincinnati, Ohio worked with Bill and Shirley to help them nail down a layout that they would love. Gail Newbill of Calico Cottage pushed them to paint the chimes beautifully, just like the ones Shirley saw at that yard sale in the 90’s. “I can’t paint them!” “Yes, You can.”  With Lee and Gail’s advice, Bill and Shirley’s dedication, and the help of family and friends, the custom designs are nearly limitless!

When you put the kind of heart in it that they do, there is more that goes into creating a set of windchimes than you’d think. On average, one set of chimes takes about 8 man-hours. Oil paints are used for color on the tubes and strikers and are known for their extensive drying times. However, oils are also known for their brilliant color. Including the time that it takes for the paint to dry and depending on what attachments you would like, the process can take anywhere from 2-3 to 6-8 weeks. They are customized from the string and beads to the striker and the musical notes of the chimes. And Bill and Shirley like it that way! “You learn what each person wants and doesn’t want. Some are more drawn to the sound, and some are more drawn to the visual aspect. You have to personalize them. It’s a science.”

Currently, Chimes by B and S sells three sizes of windchimes: Whimsical (small), Angelic (medium), and Serene (large), and they ship throughout the United States and internationally. To think, years ago “we didn’t know if we could make them, they were so beautiful! And now we know that if you have a dream and you believe in it, others will believe in it too.”