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rustinj

wip: indoor hypertufa fountain with led lighting

19 years ago

Here's a link to my current project. I'll be updating the site as the project moves along, but I'm not too sure when/if I'll finish this because I'm in the middle of graduating/interviews etc.

Wish me luck :)

Justin

Tufa fountain with LED lights

Comments (54)

  • 19 years ago

    Hi, Justin,

    Oh, cool! I'm so glad you're working on another fountain. And thank you, thank you, thank you for doing a step-by-step of your work in progress. You're definitely taking 'tufa fountains to a new level.

    Wish you well with graduation and interviews (doubt that you'll need much luck). I hope you find a job that excites and challenges you.

    Eva

  • 19 years ago

    looks like another awesome fountain! I can't wait to see how it turns out!

    good luck with interviews!!!

  • 19 years ago

    Thanks, Eva and Artsymama!

    I've updated with a few more pics here.

  • 19 years ago

    Fascinating to "watch" you work! I really like how you've shaped the reservoir. And it's so helpful to see how you adjust and add to your armature as you go along. This is going to be another fantastic fountain...I can tell already.

    Thanks a lot, Justin, for the detailed work-in-progress photos.

    Eva

  • 19 years ago

    Thanks, Eva! I'm hoping that by doing this I might get some suggestions, ideas, or at least a discussion going on the best way to go about making a fountain. I started my first attempt at a fountain in highschool. That was before I'd ever heard of hypertufa, so it ended up weighing too much to move it much beyond the place I made it :) This the third fountain I'm making out of tufa, and it's staggering how much you learn each time. I just got rid of my first fountain for $10. It was a little sickening, but I had to make room for more projects :) The current fountain is already much bigger than I'd planned. I'm making this in my apartment on a pup tent tarp...talk about cramped working conditions :(

    Anyway, I appreciate your kind comments. Criticism and/or suggestions are just as welcome! I'm looking forward to getting the base structure finished...that's when the fun begins.

  • 19 years ago

    Justin,
    Great play by play, I agree with you on the final motar application in regard to moisture issues. Keep the progress pics comin'!
    Leigh

  • 19 years ago

    Your work is so-o-o sool! On this new posting, I am only able to view the armature photos. The page comes up with boxes with a x-box in the upper left corner. I click on the x and the photos appear, but only on the first page. What can I do to see the rest and why is this happening? ...Your work is too good to miss!

  • 19 years ago

    Thanks, Leigh. I was thinking about using this strategy throughout...make the entire thing and coat it with a layer of mortar. However, I think that will make it weigh too much in the end. I'd like to seal/waterproof just the raw fountain, and then add a layer of tufa for the final detailing. The intent is to have it waterproof, but still have a layer that absorbs water for a more realistic look, and for moss growth. I may have to experiment a little on the side :)

    MardiStarr, thanks for the compliment. I have no idea why the pages aren't loading right. If I was having the same problem I could troubleshoot. I'm saving Word docs as htm files. The previous pages had the embedded pics and their titles hyperlinked to the picture files. I'll repeat that and hope it works. I have a feeling that as the fountain progresses my web pages will degenerate even more :)

    Justin

  • 19 years ago

    Wow, all that research payed off...my lights actually worked and I'm still alive!!!
    I've updated my progress.

    Sorry if my pages are all messed up...I'll try and fix them when I have more time.

  • 19 years ago

    Tre groovy fountain!!!I've been lurking around your site just to watch your progress and I'm hooked. The lights are going to add so much. I wonder what those fog things are I have seen on small fountains at a greenhouse in Austin are. I wonder what would be involved in adding this to a moody fountain like yours. I can't wait for the end result.Insert applause here.

  • 19 years ago

    Hi Sarahsaid,

    Thanks so much for the feedback...there's no greater compliment than converting a lurker :)

    I've been tempted to try one of those misters in one of my tufa fountains. However, I do have a few and I'm not real impressed with their long-term potential. The ceramic disks those things use to generate the vapor tend to get clogged real easy and are expensive to replace. Since I tend to have a lot of plants included into my design, the water gets pretty hard and really reduces the mister life span. The mist also tends to flow down with less control than the water and will get a lot of the surrounding area wet. I do love the look of it, though. I'm really looking forward to trying one out with the LED lights, but I'll probably save it for special occasions.

    Thanks again!!!

    Justin

  • 19 years ago

    Hooray!!! Thanks for the change to the photo posting Justin. I was able to see the two new ones (steps 2 &3) perfectly. Definitely a lot of labor intensity in this project. I will have to ask my more computer-smart son if he knows why I couldn't view them before.

    ......MardiStarr

  • 19 years ago

    Justin,
    This is coming along so nicely, the lights are great! I'm wondering about why the drywall tape over the wire lathe, what's the purpose? You must have put hours into building this armature, this thing will last a zillion years!
    Leigh

  • 19 years ago

    MardiStarr, thanks for letting me know. Word has two options for web page files; web page or web page, filtered.
    I don't really know the difference, but the filtered version is the one that seemed to work for you. I'll talk to the web guru at work.

    Leigh, I've never used the drywall tape in anything but silica molds. I've added it in this project on the bottom of the wire lath. I'm thinking it will reduce the amount of fall-through when adding tufa. You're right, the armature took a very long time to make...it kind of makes it pointless to try and sell it. My projects end up much lighter if I account for more of the final detail in the armature design. I could get away will a lot less lath if I had welding equipment. Without it, the lath is the structural support and the reinforcement.

  • 19 years ago

    Justin,
    Haven't been on in quite awhile but sure glad I jumped on for a minute this is FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!! be proud you have done a really great job :O) keep it up.
    Anela

  • 19 years ago

    Justin,
    Good idea! I knew I was missing something. I have experience that problem of to much tufa mixture pushing through the wire lathe. Will keep that little trick in mind!
    Anela, glad to see you back for a minute, I think often of your tiki project, how goes it?
    Leigh

  • 19 years ago

    Thanks, Anela! It's good to hear from you again...I was wondering about your tiki bird bath project, too.

    Leigh, I'm noy sure if the drywall tape is worth the pain of sticking it to the bottom. I think I'll try cardboard next time. I finally finished all my wiring...that took a lot of time! I'm starting to regret jumping into this project right now. I've updates the recent progress, but I'm not going to have time to work on this for a few weeks...have a lot of other things to catch up on.

    Justin

  • 19 years ago

    Justin, the photos are amazing, I have seen all of them now. You must be an electrician, cuz the wiring all looks like a rats nest to me. Silly me, I thought a string of store-boughts would work. How do you get that diamond mesh to form so nicely? I have covered a branch with it, and squeezing it is tuff. I had to settle for smaller strips and did a lot of twisting to get it to conform. I am curious as to the final tufa (and then the planted), and how the lights will look. If you decide to try selling, put a good price on the fountains. They have taken a lot of time and expertise, and there are a lot of people out there with so much money they don't know what to do with it!

    MardiStarr

  • 19 years ago

    MardiStarr, thanks! Electrician...HAHAHAHA! It looks like a rat nest because I've never done any wiring before. You can see in the box that I started out soldering it, but gave up and broke out the hot glue gun. This thing could be a fire hazard for all I know. The diamond mesh is terrible to work with. I'm usually bleeding every time I work with it...even with gloves. I try to avoid as much detail as possible with the mesh and use the very flexible gutter guard stuff for the detail. It's a lot more expensive, but it's all I could find at HD that fit the task. A string of store-bought lights would probably work, too. However, I would make sure they're LED lights. LEDs are said to last ~100,000 hrs. Also, they run on low voltage, so I don't have to worry about killing myself using water and electricity in the same project :) I thought I was going to take time off from this thing but I'm having too much fun to stop now.

  • 19 years ago

    Well, Justin, I have just spent about 20 minutes with jaw dropped and drooling while I looked through your albums. So much talent in one package! Biomedical science too? I want to get little green things growing on my tufa, and from what I have read, those little fuzzy fernies take their time to grow. I have a shady back yard, with plenty of it "trying" all over the ground. Can I transplant it to the tufa, and what is the best care for it? I have been pouring left-over beer ( I am sure Peak and a few others are wondering "how could that be possible? ... Sacrilage!") and also yogurt blended up with moss. Your windowbox and the other fab planter with the quartz crystals make me think you aren't just talking to your tiny plants, but sending them majical blessings! It reminds me of the movie about the two little girls who took photos of fairies and created such an uproar in England when they were published by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. They had a wonderful fairy castle. Seen any little people lurking around your home lately?

    MardiStarr

  • 19 years ago

    Wow Justin!
    Your new fountain is going to be incredible! I just spent a few minutes looking at your album-it's very nicely laid out and you have done some wonderful projects.

    LED lighting is a big thing to tackle--I think you deserve a lot of credit for jumping in and doing it!

    Deb

  • 19 years ago

    Justin, your unlit fountains are fantastic by themselves. But, well, WOW...you've really kicked them up a notch by adding the lighting! Your fountains aren't just fountains: they're works of sculptured art.

    Do you sketch out a fountain before you start to create it, or do you design it as you go? I'm really enjoying your step-by-step photos. You make even complicated armature building seem doable...thanks for that!

    Eva

  • 19 years ago

    Wow, you gals are too kind!!!

    MardiStarr, the moss on my windowsill planter looked great for about 2 months, but then the heater vent right above it started kicking on and dried everything to a crisp. The problem is that it is too shallow to hold much water. Depending on the type of moss, you should be able to get it to grow indoors as long as you add plenty of water and it gets a lot of light. The best way is to mist it 2-3 times a day, but that is a lot of work. I've found that planting it on something that draws up water from a tray works best. The quartz crystal planter has been growing for about 18 months. I just filled some panty hose with soil, flattened it on the rock, and tooth picked the moss to the surface. The soil wicks the water up to the moss, and the panty hose prevents the soil from washing down into the tray. You would tend to think moss wants shade, but I think any sunlight it gets in a window is still less than that it would get outside in the shade. I feed my moss with boiled rice water about 4 times/year. I've found that beer and buttermilk tend to cause a lot of unwanted fungal growth for indoor moss gardens. I've been trying to get moss to grow on my fountain, but I've only recently succeeded. The problem is the fountain itself blocks the light. I get moss on the side facing the window, but you can't appreciate it when you can't see it. I now have java moss (usually grown in planted aquariums)growing on the front, but I have some fluorescent lights aimed at it 12 hrs/day. I haven't seen any little people, but they could be buried in the mess I'm making :)

    Deb, if I'd known what I was getting into I might not have attempted it. As with most things (for me anyway)there was a steep learning curve the first time around. However, each time I tackle something like this I figure out a better way to do it next time, and come up with new project ideas along the way.

    Eva, I tend to sketch out a few dozen ideas first, then make a small model of the best idea in clay. However, it is kind of pointless because the armature never looks anything like what I'd planned. I think it's a battle between what you want to make and what the !@#$ steel lath will let you make. The real detail comes after the whole thing has been coated with a base layer of tufa. I'm going to try something new this time: seal it and then add another tufa layer. Something about the water flow along a sealed project doesn't seem natural. I'm hoping that the tufa layer above the waterproof layer will make the waterflow more natural, result in natural water stains, and promote moss growth.

    Thanks again for all the nice compliments!!! I'm going to try and make it look like cave rock, so let me know if you have any suggestions.

    Justin

  • 19 years ago

    I agree about the effort and blood-letting associated with the diamond mesh. Maybe others have found ways and means to do this well? Any suggestions for tools, or size of pieces used, etc? For my branch, I found I had better luck with 2-3" x what-ever length was workable mesh strips, that I wound around, then twisted on the branch to get it to conform and tighten. Your fountain has so many edges where bending is required. Do you use pliers or something else to control shaping besides strong hands?

    MardiStarr

  • 19 years ago

    MardiStarr, I wish I could say I have it all figured out, but I cut and wire pieces together somewhat randomly. I use tin snips for cutting it and 2-4" pieces of wire to link separate pieces together. Dick Blick has a wide range of different kinds of wire to pick from. I've found aluminum wire to be the least expensive and most flexible for joining pieces of the mesh together. Smaller pieces are easier to shape, but it requires more wire/time to join the pieces. Other than that, shaping the mesh is mostly a wrestling match. Sorry I don't have any good tips for this. Good luck :)

  • 19 years ago

    Thanks for the input, Justin. I definately want to try a fountain when the weather warms up. I have enough mesh left to try one, and a few pumps around, moss in the yard, crystals in a box, and tufa mix in the shed. Once the branch is finished, a fountain will be the next project.

  • 19 years ago

    Great stuff Justin. How's it coming along?

  • 19 years ago

    HowieDoin,

    Thanks! I made a big mistake and started experimenting with ultra silicond dioxide in my slurries. I added way too much and ended up with a powder-sugar like layer that filled in a lot of the detail. The idea was to just to fill in any microscopic pores to try and "waterproof" it without sealers. Since this stuff is really fine, I have been waiting for warm weather so I can bring it outside for a good hosing. That being done, I'm now waiting for someone to help me carry it back up two flights of stairs to my work area. I think it will be a while before I make any progress. :)

  • 19 years ago

    I'm almost done :)

  • 18 years ago

    and now??? how close are you to being done now??? :)

  • 18 years ago

    Incredible piece of (art)work!!!!!
    Justin, how did you do the detailing?
    What tools, and did you do it in the 1st 24hrs?
    When you come back the next day,to join onto existing work, or to apply another layer over the top of existing work, do you paint on the Quikrete, or just trowel on the new tufa, or sand/cement?
    The finished work is extra-ordinary!
    Slate

  • 18 years ago

    Thanks for the interest and feedback!!!

    GardenChicken, It's FINALLY finished! I'll try and take a few more pics before I move. It doesn't look right without the planted sections filled but that will have to wait.

    Slate, I have to qualify all of my how-to stuff with the fact that this is intended for indoor use. Therefore, I can't promise the way I happen to do things will be the correct way for standing up to the elements. Most of the rational is geered towards the finished look, not weather resistance. The tools were mainly a wire brush and scraps of the stucco lath left from the armature. The stratified look is just from repeated wire brushing on the tufa (24-36 hours old) in the same direction. I make the vertical crevices first with a knife, or lath, then the horizontal brushing. I only have a few hours in the evening to work, so it was done piece-by-piece over a few weeks? I didn't treat the old tufa before applying new...just kept the whole project moist (wrapped in plastic) and wet it down before adding new. The only sand in the recipe was used on mortaring the basin, to give it strength enough to support the rest and to "waterproof" it. I think you can see it was built around a plastic bucket? The mortar layer was intended to direct the water to the basin without absorption, and to prevent water wicking between the tufa and the bucket. The final touch before painting was several applications of cement water. I think this gives it a nice touch for several reasons; it fills pores that water might penetrate, it makes the tufa look more like rock, it unifies the patchwork look from different tufa applications, and it may even strengthen it. It should be thinner than skim milk or it will fill in the detailing.
    I hope that helps! It was very time-intensive, but easy to do. Apart from the painting step, I would say anyone could do it. The painting just takes a little more practice.

    Justin

  • 18 years ago

    Well, it actually works! The plants and moss are very happy, as long as I have it set to go on a few hours every other day. This is right after planting it, but everything has filled in the blank spots by now. THe moss grows like crazy on this thing.

    Finished and planted:

    {{gwi:65956}}

    {{gwi:65957}}

    {{gwi:65958}}

  • 18 years ago

    Justin that is totally amazing!!!!
    Thank-you for posting all the steps.
    I hope all your interviews and grad went well last year.
    Debbie

  • 18 years ago

    ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! LOVE IT!!!

  • 18 years ago

    rustinj-

    Your fountain/planter looks very organic and your plants look like they like their new digs very much.

    Congratulations on a job well done!

    Jo

  • 18 years ago

    What a gorgeous result - worth all your hard work! Many thanks for taking the time to document your progress.
    I wonder what you are working on next..... any new ideas stirring? new projects started?
    Laura

  • 18 years ago

    Thanks, it was a great (but lengthy) learning experience for me.

  • 18 years ago

    A stunning masterpiece, Justin! Fabulous! Whatever will you do for an encore?

    Very, very cool!

    Eva

  • 18 years ago

    Justin, I love it. I was at a flower & garden show in February this year and thought of you when I saw some indoor trickle fountains with pourous rock and moss. I love the organic feeling--way different from commercial indoor fountains, and yours is much, much cooler than the ones I saw. I'd like to try making one.

    Doesn't it feel great to finish such a lengthy project? (not that I'd know from personal experience.) Congratulations!

    Deb

  • 18 years ago

    Hey, thanks! Good to be back. I'm hoping to get things rolling again...maybe even sell a thing or two (just to make room for new projects). I think I've finally tipped that mental scale where I can appreciate my own stuff more without so many of the "should have done this" or "next time I'll do that" type of thoughts. Not sure if that makes sense? Maybe I'm finally just too busy to think about it :)

  • 18 years ago

    Looks good. Must like that southern exposure! How's the table doing?

  • 18 years ago

    Justine, you did a really marvelous job. You tackled a large complex project and pulled it off beautifully. I just love the finished work, very organic looking.
    Cindy

  • 18 years ago

    Thanks!

    Hey Daisy,
    Glad to see you here again! The plants and my pale Cleveland skin are both appreciating the southern exposure. I'm having a blast down here!!! The southern hospitality isn't just some catchy phrase, afterall :)

  • 18 years ago

    Justin,

    A long, long road but what a great journey! It is absolutely beautiful! Great work!
    Leigh

  • 12 years ago

    Hi,
    i am new here and this is my first post.I read your post and it is very interesting.LED is being very practical resource for many projects, including this one. I find LED technology very interesting and am always looking for new ideas for LED projects..

    Here is a link that might be useful: LED Grow Lights

  • 12 years ago

    WOW. That is just incredible! I wish the links worked so I could see how in the world you did it.

    And save yourself a lot of money, do diy LED lights. Youtube will have some helpful info because more and more people are using them for their reef tanks these days.

  • 4 years ago



    Wow, hard To believe this was 15 yrs ago! This thing fell apart from freeze/thaw cycles after about 5 yrs. I should have put a drain in, but it was nice while it lasted!

  • 3 years ago

    I'm loving this thread, however can someone tell me how to see the photos that are linked? When I click the link I get "Safari can't find the server". This is Houzz wide, not just this thread, and it's driving me nuts. Thanks for any help.