Try This: Tabletop Fountain

Assemble your own water treasure.

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Its sounds soothe. Its mist freshens. Its touch invigorates.

It’s water, tableside, from your own tabletop fountain. But creating a simple tabletop fountain offers you more than the soothing sounds of water splashing over shells and stones and the release of exhilarating negative ions into the air you breathe. It gives you a chance to explore your own creative depths and express your innermost being in new and exciting ways.

Frank Rose of Boulder, Colorado, who teaches fountain-building workshops around the country, finds himself inevitably awed by the self-discovery people experience when they assemble personal treasures in a mindful way and add the unifying element of moving water.

“Some students have been brought to tears after making their own fountain,” says Rose. “They’ve been told all their lives that they had no creative talent, no artistic bent. Then they make their own fountain and realize they are creative, and it becomes a very emotional moment for them.”

They also go away with a very personal, almost spiritual, memento of that moment.

And personal is what having a fountain of your own is all about. You can change its contents to reflect your mood of the moment, from energetic in the morning to calmer, more sedate in the evening. Or you can change its contents to reflect life’s most meaningful memories, much like a living calendar, an ever-changing diary. You might include special coins from a treasured trip abroad, shells from a beach-combing bonanza, a charm from your grandmother’s bracelet, a memento from your first love.

You also can employ your fountain as a focal point for a meditation or self-reflection space—a place where you can be alone, be calm, and be in the moment. Add a lit candle in or near it so light can play over the ever-changing water patterns. Add an aromatic aromatherapy essence of your own nearby, making certain not to place it in the water, as essential oils may clog the pump. Or add a touch of Mother Nature with an air plant tucked amid your treasures, keeping in mind that live plants may deteriorate and interfere with the pump.

Whatever treasures you choose to stamp your tabletop fountain as your own, know that you can change it as easily as you change your mind or your mood. Yet it will remain immutably, unmistakably yours—and always just right.

Water Works 

To make your own tabletop fountain, you’ll need:

• A bowl or container of ceramic, metal, glass, even wood or terra cotta with a polyurethane sealer applied to the interior. A 11/2- to 3-quart container is ideal.

• A mini-waterpump, available at some garden ­centers, select aquarium stores, or from the manu­facturer. These are preferable to aquarium pumps, which are noisy. Most pump cords are dark in color, so consider wrapping it with white artist’s tape so it’s less noticeable against a light-colored container.

• A small package of aquarium stones or gravel, rinsed thoroughly.

• A few of your favorite things—whether they be stones, shells, driftwood, crystals, marbles, or special charms and mementos that won’t be harmed by water. As accessories, consider a few low-growing houseplants nearby and a candle or two.

1. Begin by setting the water-flow switch on the pump to medium. Firmly press the suction cups on the bottom of the pump to the bottom of your bowl or container. Add enough aquarium gravel to cover the base of the pump. Then add water so it covers the gravel, plus an additional inch. Plug in the pump.

2. To personalize the fountain, begin adding elements that are meaningful to you. To anchor the design, use a large piece of driftwood, lava rock, or other unique stone as a focal point. Position so the water flows over it, or create a grotto effect by propping a flat stone slightly over the pump so water drips under its edges. Or create a stack of stones over which the water can tumble.

3. Select a few plants to surround the exterior of the bowl and conceal the cord.