Glass & Water

Rev. ... 2001-03-02, 2003-03-04, -03-29
2004-08-26, -09-02, 2005-08-13, 2007-06-12, -06-27, -09-18
2008-01-31, 2009-12-31, 2010-10-13

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Flower shapes on copper pipe with water flowing out top

FOUNTAINS are enormously popular right now, small, medium and large, mostly for indoor use. Metal, granite, marble, and cast stone. Not a lot of glass that I have seen.
These consist of a pump in a base container to hold the recirculating pump, total water supply, decorative rocks or other materials, and some sort of play surface for the water. I almost bought a hammered copper sphere that had a bubble of water out the top into a black bowl with stones, but someone got it on my day off. 2001-03-02

Some of the most popular fountains are small walls with water burbling from a slot at the top. These would be possible with sagged/fused glass, but I don't feel they would be very effective in glass. A stack of glass might be effective, simply cut, chipped, and stacked like rocks, but perhaps very sharp. I have thought previously about folded bowls with water falling from one to the next, but perhaps hard to do on a small scale (but certainly, I am working in a small scale, so why not?)

Glass bowl drilled in bottom for burble over fountain.I finally used the 1/2" core drill I bought years ago and combined it with a bowl, a pane of black glass, rocks and a pump to make in indoor fountain.  The result is shown at right (click) and the construction details here.  Better with a pottery bowl below and hiding the cord, which is very stiff. [More flexible are available.] 2007-06-12  In having the thing on the dining room table, the first thing I did was turn the water volume down with a lever on the pump - it was too noisy and sloppy.  The second thing I did was extend the water feed with a clear plastic tube because the flow was too quiet.  The next thing I expect to do is mount this bowl in another bowl so I can tilt this one slightly.  Unless perfection is at hand, the lip of the bowl resting on the edge of a cut tube of PVC is hardly likely to be level.  Level would have water able to drop down any side, perhaps irregularly.  Besides the water sound, there is a low steady hum of the pump - the bowl rests on a hot pad cushion to reduce that. The brass tube fits in the drilled hole but is not sealed, when the power is off, the water drains from the glass bowl fairly quickly. -06-14  
Drilled glass bowls as fountain.If the sound of water is desirable, then there must be some water for other water to fall into.  This may not be obvious if you have seen noisy fountains that rattle water down rocks.  In my case, when the water was up close to the sheet of glass, and the flow from the bowl is down the sides, there was little noise (and I didn't want a high fountain also splashing on the table.)   When I needed to repair the pump, I put it back with less water and it makes a nice sound of the water dripping off the edges of the plate into the water below.  If the water were falling from the rim of the bowl, then water surrounding the rocks could supply the noise. -06-16  I took two bowls with flat rims which nested nicely and drilled them in line.  Neither bowl had the bottom parallel with the rim and both were made with bubbly glass instead of the clear above..  A few rocks under the larger bowl and many rocks inside it around the tube allow leveling of the rims for even water flow and best sound..
Fountain partly assembled The end of the brass tube is just visible in the center of the upper bowl.  I found that having the tube come up inside stabilizes the bowl and allows a nice surface burble. The lower picture has begins details of assembly. The pump has been positioned and a length of 4" PVC pipe placed over it.  A wide notch accommodates the cord and narrow notches admit water while keeping out rocks, etc. The holes drilled and the outside of the pump tube are 1/2" (12.7mm) so thin wall half inch ID vinyl tubing and thin wall 1/2" OD brass tubing were pulled from supply (junk) drawer.  The plastic tubing slipped over the pump tube was long enough to reach the edge of the PVC.  A length of brass tube fits inside and projects through the bowl bottom far enough to take another plastic tube which is short enough to fit between the bowls.  Another brass tube carries the water through to the top bowl and a final plastic sleeve could be added to bring the water closer to the surface.  The alternating connection of brass and plastic allows some adjustment for height although I found it useful to make the plastic end just below the upper bowl and the brass tubes to be short enough to just firmly grip the plastic (about 1/2" insert.) 2007-06-27

  I have fused several panels from 1/4" plate glass with shapes on them to make tilted water features in rectangular containers. By using a ceiling light grid on the ends of three sections of PVC pipe, one of which is big enough to hold the pump (from fountains above), but doesn't need to be, rocks or marbles can be distributed to hide the works. The riser consists of 1/2" OD Plexiglas tubing with 1/2" ID vinyl sections to fit over the pump outlet and extend the tube to tilt it and slow the narrow flow.  Water burbles down the slope shifting paths which can be changed by moving the glass sideways.  The details of the design are to keep the water directed down the center although slight movements of the glass produce different flow patterns. 2007-09-18



Obviously, the white plastic basin used for testing is pretty crude, but shows that if the mechanism is to be concealed below everything, then the water holding tray must be deeper. Here three pieces of PVC pipe support the grid, one being large enough to enclose the pump. Table fountain build - basin with spacers and pump
Table fountain build - basin with grid added on spacers
Slots cut in the bottom edge admit water, one of the slots being big enough to allow the thick 3 wire cord used on this pump to exit.  The flat curved section gets the cord to the wall without an abrupt bend to dislodge the pump. Light water feature view of grid and water in basin.
Light water feature side view in basin
A glass baking pan 13 x 9" holds water deep enough to permit pump to run. 3/4" long PVC spaces support grid. Glass tray table top fountain - spacers
The grid was roughly cut to size and then trimmed to match the sloping sides and rounded corners.  I used diagonal electrical cutters to trim the grid.
 Cutout for pump would work better in terms of alignment with glass piece.  if 1/2" closer to end (one grid row.)
  The grid is overhead lighting replacement grid sold in 2x4' sections for about $16.
Glass tray table top build - add grid with hole for pump
The position of the cord's attachment to the pump determines the sweep of getting it out of the tank.  This vertical view shows how the placement of the pump hole one row closer to the end (to the right) would center the display better.
  If necessary, the corner where the cord exits could have been trimmed for strain relief or slightly different exit routing.
Glass tray table top fountain - top view, pump and glass in place
This rear view shows how high the water comes out of the pipe on the lowest pump setting, as well as the support bracket for the glass plate and the placement of the pump in the cutout. Glass tray table fountain showing inset of pump and cord arrangement.
In this face on view of the glass plate, the fact the wire support is visible is clear.  Some details of the water flow may be made out. Glass tray  table fountain without rocks, with water, showing white grid.
Here black rocks sold at hobby and florist supply places for flower arrangements and decorative purposes have been added, although not enough are on hand to cover all of the grid.   The difference in the appearance of the glass is evident.  The glass piece is the same in both images. Glass tray table fountain with black rocks on grill with water

"Table Fountains" by Paris Mannion (North Light Books, Cincinnati, OH, 2001, ISDN 1-58180-103-3 Dallas Pub.Lib. 745.593 M284C) The book shows construction of eleven fountains and has specific articles on 15 aspects of getting started and 5 enhanced ideas along with good resources listings. Strongly recommended. Two of the best ideas I saw were using a short length of large diameter PVC pipe with notches cut in one edge to support rocks away from the pump while letting water in and the cord out [see above] and using the plastic grid from lighting fixtures to support rocks above the bottom of a bowl [I used glass, above, as well as grid-about $16 for 2x4' sheet], so the bowl does not have to be filled with rocks. Many of the details in the book have to do with ideas for concealing the sources of the water - drilling rocks to pass the tube or leaning things to cover it. It seems to me that the best arrangement for a glass worker is to plan on a base tray to catch splashes with a largish bowl to contain the fountain and then work up the design, perhaps in another bowl above that. 2002-03 HOTBIT44.htm

Notes from the book above.
Keep water full. Use a baster to remove dirty water. Disassemble and clean at least every 3 months.
80 gal/hour pump for small (1-1/2") or medium (2") rolling balls - buy rather than try to make balls.
Specialty items available include small water sealed lights and foggers.
1/8" holes in copper tube for dribbling water
The Hagen Aqua Pump has a ceramic shaft - quieter - and 2 wire double insulated, easier plug in, smaller cord, under $20
With a leaf, water running up stem is deflected by tab at top to run across leaf instead of burbling up.
F&Q Pumps - inexpensive rolling balls 626-455-0884
Real Goods, 800-762-7325


From Hot Glass Bits #13
AQUARIUMS - I have been thinkingAquarium that could be blown, seen in Pottery Barn catalog about aquariums & blowing for some time. I have thought about blowing aquariums, hanging them in air or on a wall, and fusing or blowing reefs or other shapes for placement in aquariums. But I have never owned a tropical aquarium, although I kept minnows in bottle tanks as a kid. So, in early March, after much shopping, I bought a 3 gallon hex tank kit, conditioned the water and put in four small fish, which, I regret to say, died almost immediately (2 within an hour, the other two by next morning.) So I redid the water, bought a heater, had the water tested, and put in three more, which survived nicely. Just after I returned from the trip, I bought some more and they are doing well along with about two dozen snails, most of which are the size of a broken pencil point and almost disappear when they get down on the gravel during the day. I have pulled some glass shapes in the glory hole and are trying them with the fish.

I tell this tale in part because of what ended the trip: The Glass Axis show, to my amazement, included a large rectangular aquarium, floored with two kinds of marbles, bubbling air, and mostly filled with blown glass. (No fish as there was no time to condition the water.) Pieces included (I am looking a my pictures) 6 or 7 pale green opaque cactus shapes, mushroom shapes the same color, some red and pink round shell shapes, a clear dolphin shape with a bubble for a hump and several floating piece really too big for even this large aquarium but interesting on a pond.

2002-10-08 I see I haven't commented on floaters.  If a glass piece is made with an open bottom and placed bottom down in water, it will eventually sink.  The weight of the glass puts the air inside under pressure so it tends to dissolve in the water, being released on the open surface.  The water intrudes to replace the dissolved air, repeating the process.  That means that open pieces will have to be rescued periodically and the water drained.

Blown ornaments floating in reitred crucible with fountain in rock garden at White Pine StudioOn my trip to Minnesota in 2005 several of the studios had decorations made of crucibles no longer used.  This one a White Pine Studio had water splashing and sealed glass balls floating on the water.  Another studio had glass balls floating at the foot of a tumbling water rapids (missed the photo somehow) 2005-08-13






HUMMINGBIRD FEEDERS - Not having another page for this, I will put information here.
What you need:
Blown hummingbird feeder with stopper dripA "bottle" to hold sugar water for hummingbirds, most easily made as a bottle with neck to take a stopper with a glass tube available for converting commercial bottles to feeders. (Shown in the bottom of the red one to right)  Needs a hanger, either in glass or with allowance for a wire or rope.  More interesting if made with a flower shaped neck in a shape that hangs right so the fluid doesn't all run out. Cleaning and refilling must be considered in the design. A drilled hole may be a solution as shown at right. Rubber stoppers with the bent tube and end cap with a hole are available as replacement parts at hardware and wild bird stores.  I keep a small amount of aquarium gravel, which is roughly cubical, on hand to swirl inside the glass to remove mold, dirt or slime. 2004-08-28 
Sometimes these start growing spots of mold inside.   I have found that aquarium gravel works well in taking off the mold without scratching the glass or making a mess.  I keep a small container with about 2 tablespoons of the gravel handy.  To clean a bottle, I put in warm soapy water about half full and put the gravel in with a funnel.  Holding the bottle covered I then shake the bottle in a circular motion so the gravel travels around the bottle scraping the mold off.  The gravel has mostly rounded corners.
 To get the gravel out, put a cup over the neck and invert the bottle and cup.  Some of the water will come out and fill the cup and stop flowing (air can't get in) and sloshing the bottle will make the gravel fall through the water into the cup and lifting the bottle will let the rest of the water overflow the cup.  The gravel in the cup will have to be rinsed to clean out the dirt and mold and the bottle rinsed separately.

Any glass (or clear plastic) hummingbird feeder will tend to "pump"- drip or otherwise move fluid out as it gets warmer during the day and pull air in as it cools at night.  Depending on the design more or less fluid will be lost.  A design with a bit of a scoop at the bottom may result in no loss if the expansion does not overflow the scoop.   On the other hand, a bottle in the sun may pump out half an inch or more each day. 2004-09-01 Today, I discovered the reason for the bee guards on commercial feeders.  I thought it was to keep the bees back from nozzle, which it may be, but one of my feeders lost a guard and I found, when it emptied, bees inside the bottle and inside other guards.  Hard to get out. 2004-09-02

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