search  current discussion  categories  forms - fountains 

fountain maker's tricks

updated fri 28 apr 00


Peter Atwood on thu 27 apr 00

Hi All,

Thought I'd post an offlist email conversation that I had with an Irish
potter on making tabletop fountains. She was asking me some questions after
visiting my site at There's some good
stuff here for all you fountain makers.


Hi Margaret,

It is not necessary to make the hole where the tube comes through water
tight because the pressure and flow are sufficient to make the water go over
the side of the tower. But I do try to make the hole close to the right size
for the tubing to slip through. I have found that by using several different
diameters of flexible vinyl tubing I can stick a piece inside another to
neck it down a size if needed or put a piece over to step it up as the case
may be. They are not permanently stuck on with silicone.

As for the problem of leveling, with the three-spouted towers I use a small
"torpedo" level to span between the spouts to make them all the same height.
The tower has to be sitting on a level surface to do this. Sometimes I don't
use a level at all, just go by eye. Since the pump creates some turbulence
anyway, I don't worry if the water is flowing a bit unevenly. It's usually
surprisingly even though.

If the tower is grossly uneven due to warpage when firing I have used a shim
underneath to cock the tower at a bit of an angle. Using a small bead of
clear silicone it is possible to build up the bottom on one side to level it
out. You might have to add to it a couple of times to get it right but it
works quite well.

The pebbles are a bit of window dressing that help disguise the water outlet
and give the feeling of water flowing from the depths. They also add a sense
of nature to a manmade object so in that way they really harmonize and
balance the piece. Not all my fountains have them since some pieces are fine
without additional props but I do tend to like them. All my pebbles are
handpicked from the shores of Cape Cod which is really just an excuse to go
to the beach!

Tell me about your fountains. I keep running into other fountainmakers and
often their approaches are so much different than mine.

I do think some folks are probably copying my stuff since it's out on the
web for all to see but I don't really care. Most of my pieces are pretty
obvious anyway I think. I had a company in India contact me and offer to
produce my designs for 15 cents an hour. I didn't dignify them with a

Warm regards,


>From: margaret delaney
>To: Peter Atwood
>Subject: Re: advice on the making of fountains
>Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 16:03:18 -0700 (PDT)
>Thank you so much for your quick response. It's
>amazing how small you make your fountains.
>If the pump is in the tower do you use silicone to make
>the flex coming out of it watertight? You seem to
>use pebbles to help bring up the water level and also
>to disguise the tube carrying the water. Is this the
>case? Also water finds it's own level. This makes
>it hard, I find, to predetermine the direction of the
>water flow. If you're just a little off level it
>changes the effect. How to you get around this
>I would be very grateful for any advice you have on
>the above.
>Please keep posting your website as I am enjoying
>looking at your new images. Thank you,
>--- Peter Atwood wrote:
> > Dear Margaret,
> >
> > Thanks for touring my site. I get quite a few hits
> > every week but not too
> > many folks who want to communicate. I guess that is
> > the nature of the web.
> >
> > I have been making fountains for several years now
> > and there are a couple of
> > things that I think are important. First, lots of
> > potters make fountains
> > that look like potters made them. In other words,
> > I've seen a lot of
> > fountains that look like pots and that's not what
> > fountains are. They are
> > little water gardens, tiny worlds unto themselves.
> > They should have an
> > organic and natural quality to them. If you want to
> > make fountains then let
> > go of your preconceived ideas and just play. My best
> > pieces were not
> > sketched out in any way- I just started throwing and
> > put the pieces
> > together.
> >
> > Pay attention to the sound. Study some water falls
> > and brooks. My very best
> > piece just sold last weekend from my studio. A nice
> > couple stopped by to
> > replace a favorite broken mug and ended up falling
> > in love with the water
> > garden fountain that is on the top of my page. They
> > were intrigued because
> > it made a very natural sound.
> >
> > I was in a store last week and saw a truly annoying
> > fountain made of slate
> > stuck inside a metal bowl. The dripping water made a
> > horrible tinny sound
> > that jangled my nerves. Fountains should soothe and
> > calm.
> > Also, use shiny glazes and coat the inside after
> > firing with a silicone
> > water repelling substance. In the States we have a
> > product called RainX
> > which is made for coating the windshields of cars.
> > This stuff helps keep the
> > white crust of minerals from building up and makes
> > the fountains much easier
> > to keep clean. Alternatively, you can run distilled
> > water in the fountain.
> >
> > Hope that gives you some ideas. Happy fountain
> > making!
> >
> > Peter Atwood

Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at