Tabletop Fountain

Tabletop Fountain

Part of Ep. 1304 Sticks and Twigs

Shelley Ryan learns how to bring the outdoors in. At Mineral Point art studio Sharon Stauffer makes an indoor tabletop fountain.

Premiere date: Dec 25, 2005

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

This is a great indoor project for gardeners in the winter, especially if you're missing the sounds of spring. You get this wonderful water trickling and you can put it anywhere in your house. It's also surprisingly very easy to make. We're in Mineral Point with Sharon Stauffer. And Sharon is one of the instructors for the Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts. This is one of the classes you teach, isn't it?

Sharon Stauffer:
Yes, it is.

Shelley:
I have to admit, I took it and thought it was great fun. What a way to survive winter. Talk us through it. Tell us how very simple this is.

Sharon:
There's three basic things you need to make a fountain. The first thing you need is some kind of container. It just has to be something, the material isn't important. It just has to hold water.

Shelley:
And look pretty, or rustic, or whatever we want.

Sharon:
If it's a porous material, it might sweat so you want to treat it kind of like your houseplants and put it on a coaster. The second thing you need is a pump. The three things that I look for in a pump-- These are teeny tiny sump pumps. I order mine online and I look for a rating of about 60 to 65. That's the force of the water, how high it will shoot the water up. I look for something that has an adjustable slide so that I can adjust that water flow.

Shelley:
From high to low, or whatever you want.

Sharon:
This particular pump has an on-off switch in the cord.

Shelley:
So you don't have to unplug it all the time.

Sharon:
Exactly, you don't have to lean down and take it out of the wall. The third thing you need is some kind of a spout. You're going to be hooking some plastic tubing to your pump. You can get the tubing at the hardware store.

Shelley:
It comes in different sizes, I can see.

Sharon:
It comes in different sizes. Get a size that will fit over the outlet of the pump.

Shelley:
So take the pump with me to the hardware store.

Sharon:
Not a bad idea. Then, I like to make a housing for the pump which I make out of a plastic gardening container.

Shelley:
A good thing for gardeners to do.

Sharon:
You can buy these, but they're kind of pricey and so I make my own. You just need to cut a hole for the wire to come out and a hole for the water to flow through.

Shelley:
This is to kind of protect the pump from the weight of the rocks and stuff.

Sharon:
It protects the pump and helps with vibrations. It isn't absolutely necessary, but I like to do it.
Shelley:
Then we have my favorite part, which are the rocks. I've been collecting rocks. This is the part I really get into. Can we use any kind of rock?

Sharon:
You can use any kind of rock. You can get little packages of polished rocks at dollar stores, and so forth.

Shelley:
Or, use what we've been collecting all our lives.

Sharon:
Right, but with the rocks that have been outside wash them really, really well. Otherwise, you'll get cloudy water.

Shelley:
Can we start putting these in?

Sharon:
No, the first thing you want to do is put your spout together, so that you can test it before you get all those rocks in there because then you'd have to take it apart. You want to check the water flow.

Shelley:
So it's not shooting straight out to the ceiling!

Sharon:
Or shooting all the way across the room or not coming out at all. I like to use bamboo. It's easy to cut and easy to work with. I cut a length the size that I want my spout to be. I drilled a hole in the side. Then I took the smaller tubing and I fed it down through the hole. Then, this smaller tubing is not the right size to fit on right. So, I actually made a little connector out of a larger-size tubing and just--

Shelley:
It just telescopes into it.

Sharon:
There is the little connector down here. You might notice that there's a wire coming out of here. What I've done there-- when you buy this tubing at the hardware store it's curved like this and you cannot make it straight. You cannot make it bend where you want it to. You can drop it in a pot of boiling water and that will straigten it out. But sometimes, you actually want to make it bend.

Shelley:
Like how it curves down here.
Sharon:
If you stick the wire in there and do that, it stays bent.

Shelley:
Okay, so we would be putting this on and running the water and trying to get our flow to pretty much where we want it. Then, we'd take the rocks and hide the housing.

Sharon:
That's right, we start putting rocks in.

Shelley:
What do you do to hide the cord?

Sharon:
I like to use plants. I like to use ordinary house plants.

Shelley:
Really?

Sharon:
You can get aquatic potting mix. And I've cut a piece of pantyhose. I just take a blob of the potting soil and stick it in the pantyhose. Stick the cuttings in it. Wrap them around and tie it with a twist.

Shelley:
They just sit in here. They root because they're in water.

Sharon:
Right, they love being in here. You put it in there and it hides the cord.

Shelley:
Let's step over to your finished product. I see that you've put another piece of bamboo to hide the spout, again. You can't even see the plant is in pantyhose under the rocks.

Sharon:
Right, you hide everything with the rocks. This is just a decorative element.

Shelley:
You can go wild and do whatever. This is the fun part. You can add more rocks and make the sound different. These are just great. What I like best is you can do almost anything you want. You've told me that your cats just love them.

Sharon:
They make wonderful cat drinking fountains.

Shelley:
Thanks, Sharon.

Sharon:
You're welcome.

Shelley:
I love the sound of trickling water. It's so relaxing. I think I might have to take a nap. After all, gardeners have to rest up before spring gets here! I'm Shelley Ryan. Thanks for watching the Wisconsin Gardener.

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