Decades ago, Chase Barn Cloches were quite popular. They were composed of four sheets of horticultural glass, and an ingenious wire frame to hold them together, with a hoop at the top that enabled the whole cloche to be lifted and moved. They went out of favour, partly because great care was required to avoid breaking the glass, and partly because of the advent of cheap plastic alternatives.
I got hold of some 4mm toughened glass sheets and thought I would make some garden cloches out of them. 'Tent' cloches - two pieces of glass clipped together at the top - do not provide much space inside, so I wanted to make 'barn' cloches, and these are the appropriate clips. Agricultural glass is usually 3mm thick, so my 4mm glass was a tight fit, but it worked. At least six clips are required for each 'barn cloche'. I found it easiest to construct the cloches by holding two pieces of glass on end, using a flat-bladed screwdriver to prise open the jaws of the clips, and sliding the glass into place. It's a bit fiddley, but once you have done one or two, it gets much easier.
We live in a very windy spot, and I wanted to make sure that these would stand up to it. They were fine until it was windy AND rainy at the same time. The slippery wet glass just slipped out from between the jaws of the clips when the wind was gusting. As the glass was toughened, it did not break. I would say that these clips are only suitable if you can be sure of constructing your barn cloches in a very sheltered area, especially if you use horticultural glass, which will form very dangerous shards if it breaks.
However, there is something else you can do with these clips. You can make a flat-topped barn cloche, using three bits of glass, instead of four. Look at the picture of the clip (top right) and imagine rotating it about 45 degrees anti-clockwise until the lower slot is horizontal. Now imagine one 'wall' of the cloche to the left, and the 'roof' of the cloche fitting into the horizontal slot. A right to left mirror image of the clip will allow you to form another 'Wall' to the right, and secure the right hand side of the horizontal 'roof'. This configuration is very stable, as the 'walls' tilt at more than 45 degrees and lean against the centre. Obviously, there is less vertical space inside such a cloche, but it covers quite a large area, and it is very stable indeed. And only four clips are needed for each cloche.
This is how I am using these at the moment, and so far, they have stayed up in quite high winds.
I did not get these from Amazon, as obviously they are out of stock, but you can still find them elsewhere. You can still get the 'tent' cloche version of these clips on amazon, though, and I can confirm that they will fit any sheet material up to 4mm thick.
I've only given three stars because these could have been better designed so as to stand up to the elements. For example, the 'jaws' could have been made much longer. I recommend you don't get them unless you will use them in a very sheltered area, or are prepared to experiment with the three-pane design described above.
FOUR MONTH UPDATE: It's been around four months since my initial review of these clips. The news is not good. I reported before that by re-configuring a 'barn' cloche to use three bits of glass with a flat roof, these provided a cloche that is stable in quite high winds. This is correct, to begin with, but the plastic gradually degrades under the stress of repeated wind forces over a few months, and becomes more .... well, plastic. Whereas initially it was quite tough to get the glass between the 'jaws' of the clips, over time they deform so they exert less and less force on the glass. Eventually, they barely hold the glass at all. I think that the only situation in which these would be useful would be in very calm conditions, such as inside a polytunnel or greenhouse. I'm disappointed, as I believe that relatively small changes in the design and the materials would yield a perfectly usable and durable product. I can't now recommend these for any cloche that will be exposed to the elements. I've reduced the star rating appropriately.Read more ›