DIYdiy projects

DIY Ombre Rain Chain

by Grace Bonney

When I visit other countries, I’m always fascinated by some of the simplest differences in even the most mundane things. A perfect example: rain chains. My husband and I visited Japan last Fall, and I noticed these beautiful copper chains — often with a series of cups — hanging from the gutters of homes and even temples. I assumed they were purely decorative, but in fact, they replace downspouts and harness the flow of rain water in such a simple, calming way. What a beautiful concept, no? What’s even better is that a simple rain chain is a super easy DIY, and adding a little custom color is only marginally more work — and well worth it. —Mandy Pellegrin

10 mini terracotta pots
blue, black, and white paint
paint brush
8′ of large chain
10 small chain links (small enough to fit through the hole in the bottom of the pots)

2 sets of pliers

1. Mix up four or more shades of blue by adding a small amount of black to the blue paint for the darkest shade and varying amounts of white for the lighter shades.

2. Give each of of the mini terracotta pots a couple of coats of one of the shades of blue. With four shades, I painted three pots in the lightest shade, two pots in each of the two middle shades, and three pots in the darkest shade.

3. Divide the large chain into 11 equal lengths. To separate a chain link, grip a set of pliers on either side of the link’s opening. Rotate your wrists in opposite directions to push one end of the link away from you and the other end towards you. Separate the ends just enough to slip an adjoining link off. If you’ve ever done any jewelry-making, it’s the same technique with just a little more elbow grease. You will use this same technique to detach the 10 small chain links you’ll need to assemble the rain chain.

4. Assemble the chain by slipping one one small chain link through the hole in the bottom of each pot and attaching a length of the large chain on either end of each small link. Close each link by reversing the technique used to open them. Hang your completed rain chain wherever it will get a decent amount of rain during the next storm, and enjoy!

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  • my son told me about this he saw it on tv I put a celling under his deck with a down spout it looks ugly…. I,m going to make one of these,,,, I think it’ll look a 100% better
    I like the idea of collecting the water to use else where

  • Just curious, it looks as if you used regular paints and I am wondering how well it held up under the water or if you did something to make it waterproof???

  • Where do you find the chain links & where do you find this chain?? I went to Lowes and found the chain but it was so strong to try to bend I was using swag chains ( the ones you see above a hanging lamp) could hardly bend them open to be able to construct one Rain chain!!! The Chain links are what’s impossible to find!!!

    • Ask the Lowe’s sales person to cut your chain in sections, then you hook as shown. I frequent Home Depot and I would ask them to cut the sections (as they would lumber), find the hooks in the hardware section, then hook together. I always go for the natural look.

  • That is a GREAT diy rain chain — really cute! We encourage people to make their own. If anyone wants production rain chains, I make the best! @www.rainchains.com

    • Just visited your site – yes, they are beautiful! Never knew that someone specialized on this. One of your most beautiful is the one with the water lillies.

  • I made this and it looks great. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. The pots fill with water. The water overflows on to the full pot below and splashes everywhere. Only some of the water flowing through the gutter reducer flows to the chain. The rest falls through and splashes all over my porch. Time to try another design.

  • Unfortunately you didn’t say may about how to attach these to your gutter system or where exactly it should go. Gutters and downspouts serve an important purpose, and if all these rain chains do is allow water to flow directly down near the foundation, you could h ave water in the basement during heavy spring rains or thunderstorms.

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