Rain chains originated in Japan and are a decorative alternative to downspouts. These elegant chains transport rainwater down a chain of small copper funnels (often designed as lotus flowers, umbrellas, or fish). Water splashes and glides along the chain, making it a spectacular vision. The sound of the flowing water adds another dimension of beauty to this practical accessory. The rain chain easily hooks onto the rain gutter. Water can be collected in a basin or rain barrel that is placed below the rain chain. Whether you buy a high-end rain chain or make your own, these pieces of visual architecture offer opportunity to revel in the rain water rather than concealing it in downspouts. Here are a variety of rain chains to consider-from handcrafted custom-made pieces to superstore versions. One helpful hint about rain chains-the ones designed as plain round or square links (rather than small cups in the shape of fish, flowers, and so on) may cause more splashing of water than the other more substantial designs. Photo credit/available at: Rainchainsdirect.com.
Copper Umbrella Rain Chain
Most rain chains on the market are copper, which eventually turns to a blue-green patina. This rain chain is a basic yet stunning piece. Most rain chains are 8-9 feet long, and 32-inch extensions are available for $40. Also available are copper funnels, tulips, and bowl shapes. To attach your rain chain, just insert it into your existing rain gutter drain hole or place it on a corner eave of your home. Photo credit/available at: Japanesegifts.com.
Aluminum Rain Chain
Aluminum rain chains are durable, lightweight, and often less expensive than their copper counterparts. These 8 ½ foot rain chains come in many designs-scalloped cups, flared cups, links. The joining wires between each cup are stainless steel, for strength during heavy water flow. Photo credit/available at: Guttersupply.com.
Amaryllis Copper Rain Chain
Rain chains are not just a specialty item. Even the superstores carry them. They are likely to cost less than boutique stores or handcrafted rain chains. Walk to the brick and mortar stores-Target and Costco, or order online from Amazon, Overstock. Costco has a double loop copper rain chain for $99. Overstock has the amaryllis copper rain chain pictured here. Photo credit/available at: Overstock.com.
Watering Can and Flowers Rain Chain
These are 6 feet long and have one watering can and 4 flowers. They come in polished or antique copper finishes. This site also carries a teapot and tea cup rain chain. The bluebell is $115, if the watering can seems too pricey. Photo credit/available at: Rainbarrelsandmore.com.
Hand-Crafted, Custom-Made Rain Chains
If you are looking for a top of the line, handcrafted rain chain, try rainchainsbysteve. Each copper rain chain is a piece of art created to your specifications and is eight feet long. Many rain chains are crafted into the traditional koi design (a carp, the Japanese symbol of love and friendship). The Imperial Koi with loop, or the whale design, are $289. You can mix and match different chains, or have one custom-made. Photo credit/available at: Rainchainsbysteve.com.
Rain Barrel and Rain Chain
The rain that gathers from your rain chain needs a place to land. Rain barrels or rain basins are two options for catching the rain. The water from rain barrels can be used for watering your garden or other household purposes (washing the dog or your car, for example).
There are many varieties of basins that catch the rain water at the bottom of your rain chain-just use your imagination! You can buy a hand-hammered copper basin (made of recycled copper!) that attaches to the bottom of your rain chain. Or, consider a granite basin to receive the water. Add a water lily or decorative stones to create a more sophisticated look. Photo credit/available at: Greenandmore.com.
DIY Rain Chain
You can make a simple rain chain out of materials such as shower curtain rings or a standard chain link. You'll need a couple of items from your local hardware store-a stake to secure the rain chain to the ground, and a gutter strap to attach the top of the rain chain to the gutter. More detailed instructions for rain chains in rainy areas like Oregon suggest directing water six feet away from the house with a sloping rock or other device. Photo credit: Cultivatinglife.com.