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Rated: E · Article · Comedy · #756912
Tried to save money building my own original fountain.
Build a fountain by Chris Henderson

I am old enough to know what the truth in advertising laws mean. The vast majority of advertisers know what truth in advertising is. What I didn't realize is that there is an unwritten caveat in advertising. That caveat is: This doesn't mean you if you don't know what you're doing.

The problem is that I love tabletop fountains, but I've always had champagne taste and only been willing to spend on a beer budget. I saw a sign that said, "Build your own tabletop water fountain". What I should have started thinking about was, "Water fountain as opposed to what? Soda pop fountain? Chocolate pudding fountain?" When it specifies water fountain, maybe there are other, crucial details left unspecified.

The sign went on to state that building your own fountain costs much less than purchasing one, and allows you to create "a very unique work of art to complement your home decor". "Very unique", that should have been a hint to me. Below the sign was a pump assembly, and some boring bowls, and some bags of ordinary looking rocks. Well, I frequently teach craft classes. I should be able to make a lovely fountain to complement my home decor. Which is much nicer than a fountain that insults your taste in furnishings, but let's not go there.

I decided to start with a large rock. An extremely large rock. 13" wide, 16" high, and about 5" deep. I found a huge chunk of pumice. Pumice is wonderful, it can be carved with a butter knife, and it weighs next to nothing. I started carving, and made an interesting discovery: "pumice" is actually Latin for "shards of exceedingly sharp glass, stacked in loose layers, which can alter trajectory in mid-flight so as to get in your eyes behind your glasses". This stuff is worse than fiberglass for working its way into your skin, clothing, hair, cats' fur, potted plants, carpet, draperies, etc. ad nauseam. I moved the whole works outside and started again.

By much trial and error, I carved a series of waterfalls down one side of the rock. Some of the waterfalls are larger than originally planned (error), and some mere runnels (trial).
Then I had to carve a hole all the way top to bottom through the mid-line, for the water tube. Look around your house, right now. Even if you have a truly well-equipped tool box, I'll bet you have nothing which will bore a ½" diameter hole, 16" long. Neither do I. Who knew? By working from both top and bottom, for a very long time, with an ice pick and a currently non-peeling potato peeler, I created the hole. One tiny problem. Do you know why bridges are not often built starting from both ends and meeting in the middle? I do, now. I was lucky, only the middle section of the hole had to be terribly enlarged so the halves would meet. The rest of the hole is the right size, so the plastic water tube fits snugly.
I still hadn't found a bowl for the base, so I went shopping.

Now, let's see you find a flat-bottomed bowl with a pleasing shape, made of a material which complements pumice and river rock (which I wanted scattered around the base), and which is more than 13" wide, and over 4¾" deep! Truthfully, I never did. I got tired of shopping, so I went to the hardware store and bought a plastic flower box, no holes in the bottom. I'm thinking maybe I'll paint the box, a nice faux rock treatment, whatever. Later! I want to hear the sound of splashing water, playing over the river rocks. I want to hear it now, I've been working on this silly thing over a week already.

I bought some miniature grasses, then realized I couldn't just stick the grass down in there, the dirt would clog the pump, and the grass would drown! Okay, put the grass in some containers. Now the pumice rock needs to be raised up, it's getting lost in the bottom of the box. Build a platform. Wait, the grass is hidden. Build more platforms. Build a higher platform for the pumice. Make holes in the platform, one for the electric cord for the pump, one for the water tube. Make new platform, with holes that line up. Make a stronger new platform with holes that line up and which is capable of supporting a much heavier rock now that it has absorbed a lot of water. Again, who knew rock could be absorbent?

At long last, I had the whole thing put together. I did the final assembly in the kitchen (where the water is, of course), plugged it in, and it worked! The water flows, it falls, the grass is retaining its dirt in its little pots, the water makes a lovely sound, wet pumice is much prettier than you'd expect from seeing dry pumice; now, where to put it permanently to complement my home decor? Well, until it evaporates, it's staying right where it is, on the kitchen counter, next to the coffeepot. Do you have any idea how much a wet pumice boulder, a small bucket of river rocks, and a good-sized tray of miniature grass weighs? Not to mention the gallon and a half of water I poured in! It's not like I can just turn this thing over and pour the water out, either.

So, I'm going to unplug it and let the water evaporate and the pumice dry out. Maybe by the time it's moveable, I'll have figured out where to move it to.
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