The question that we are most commonly asked is, “What exactly ARE rain chains?” Great question, and one that we are always happy to answer. First, a brief history.
In Japan, the practice of capturing rain for use in the household has been going on for centuries. It was quite common for the roof of a house to incorporate a series of downspouts, culminating in a large barrel or bucket, so that no rainwater was wasted. At some point hundreds of years ago, someone decided to add some artistic flair to this process, and the world was introduced to rain chains.
In reality, the way they work is quite simple. Virtually all homes today have gutters, and at the end of the gutter is the downspout. Rainwater hits the roof and travels the downward slope to the gutter. Gravity continues to pull the water gradually toward the corner of the house, where it enters the downspout. Coming out the other end, the rain gently soaks into the ground.
Now imagine that same process, but instead of the downspout, you have a series of 10 to 27 cups held together vertically by a chain that runs through each of them. As the water leaves the gutter and runs into the first cup, it quickly finds a small hole at the bottom of that cup and flows into the next one. The water is continually funneled all the way down to the bottom, where it finally flows into one of our basins, a nice stoneware pot, a rain barrel, or even a small rock garden filled with smooth pebbles. When it comes to rain chains, the only limit is your imagination!
Of course, there are lots of different styles from which to choose. The one described above uses a selection of cups held together by a chain (the copper rain chains are a very popular item). Some of our customers prefer just the simple chain, with no cups. Of course, with that style, the water will fall more quickly since there is nothing to catch it on the way down. Standing too close to one of these, you might find yourself getting splashed a bit!
There are other design options as well. Cup-style rain chains come in a variety of shapes: inverted bells, lilies, sundrops, tulips, even inverted umbrellas.
People tell us that there is just something mesmerizing about watching the rain water as it travels downward. Each drop takes a slightly different course than the last, and the randomness of it seems to be what makes it so interesting to watch.
If your home is in an area that experiences freezing temperatures, you’re in for a real treat. During sunny days, the rain chain will warm up and melt some of the snow. At night it refreezes, leaving attractive and unique ice formations in the morning. Each one is unique, so you will want to have your camera ready to take some amazing photographs!
You will find that the other big attraction to rain chains is the effect they have on your ears. The sound of water, whether it’s the ocean or a small rippling stream, is very soothing. Imagine a warm summer rain on a Saturday afternoon, and you’re sitting near an open window or out on your covered porch. All is silent, except for the sound of the rainwater funneling its way down through one tulip-shaped cup after another. With a good book and perhaps a cup of hot tea, there is no more relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
Our Rain Chains are made of the highest quality pure copper, so they will last many lifetimes. You may have the perfect location for just one, or you might replace all of your “traditional” downspouts with rain chains. Either way, you will find that they add to the beauty and charm of your home for many years to come.
As you can probably tell, we love our rain chains. Whether you choose a cup style, a ring style or mix it up with both, we are sure that you will grow to love yours as well.