Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Creating Indoor Fountains

Over the last month, I have been experimenting with making indoor fountains from handbuilt components.

The idea to try fountain-making in the first place came from a picture that I saw of an amazing teapot fountain by Gary Merkel, simply entitled "Tea Pot". The fountain was displayed in
The Ceramic Spectrum, by Robin Hopper on page 45.
Some more of Gary Merkel's work can be seen at
A Show of Hands Gallery

To help me get started, I bought an informational book on indoor fountains called Create Your Own Tabletop Fountains by Paris Mannion. The book had the information that I needed to get started, but there was more feel-good mystic material than I felt necessary (i.e.: how an indoor fountain will increase the positive chi in your home). However, I would still highly recommend getting this book, or any other reference to those who are entirely new to fountain-making. I had no idea what kind of pumps, tubing, and glue to even look for. The book was a place to springboard off of.

After having made these fountains, there were a lot of things that I would have done differently in the development stage but did not find out until I was trying to assemble the finished product. Instead of a how-to format for this article, I have decided to take a much less formal “What worked—and what didn’t” approach. I hope this proves useful to others trying to create their own ceramic fountains.

Three Bowl Fountain

What worked?

• The top bowl had the perfect spout shapes on the sides from which to pour into the other bowls.
• Placing a long foot on the bottom of the bowls, rather than trying to come up from the bottom of the next lower bowl proved useful for glazing purposes.
• The straight up-and-down design with the continuous line from feet to bowl provided easy placement of the tubing for least exposure.

What didn’t
• I didn’t think hard enough about where the pump would be going—hence the huge pile of rocks in the bottom bowl to cover it up. I’m not sure that the river rocks completely match the style, carving, and coloring of the bowls. Next time, I would have either made the foot of the bowl above large enough to accommodate the pump, or made and glazed smaller stylized pieces of clay to replace the river rocks.
• The middle bowl does not have any clear channel for the water in which to run, so it tends to pour and splatter from everywhere. Next time, I would try to design it with definite spouts on the edges.
• I would have liked the bottom bowl to be larger. This would give more space to hold water in the bottom, and might look a little more balanced. In order to give the fountain enough water to supply all of the bowls, more water must be added as soon as it is turned on and the original water is sucked up the tube.

Gourd Fountain

What worked?
• The simplistic design and minimal components of this fountain made it much easier to put together and much less fuss to work with.
• The glaze coloring (a green celadon) and the rounded form work well with the smooth river rocks.
• When I created the top component, I left a large hole in the bottom. This hole allows quick and easy access to the pump and the tubing. The form just sits slightly on top of the pump itself, supported by the river rocks.

What didn’t
• The hole around the top of the gourd was very difficult to position with rocks in such a way that they didn’t fall down the tubing, or simply through the form. I finally worked through this problem by gluing some larger rocks around the tube, and then gluing smaller ones on top of it. It was especially difficult to make the rocks work because I couldn’t immediately test how they affected the flow without destroying my glue job.
• The thick black cord seems disproportionate with the rest of the fountain. In the future, I would look around more to find a pump with a two-prong cord instead of this massive three-prong one.


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