Finished Fountain

The welding studio has been busy the last 3 weeks.  Buck had a special order for a fountain, and a matching urn for a client in California, and a destination in Fort Worth Texas.  The sheer size of the fountain meant the base and scuppers needed to be very strong, and the steel thick and heavy.

The project under construction has a landscape architect on retainer.  He designed both pieces, and we fabricated from his designs.  The drawing from the LA needed to be drawn in CAD-this is short for computer assisted design.  It is an enormous skill in and of itself to master the CAD program.  Buck is an expert, given his 30 year experience as an architect specializing in technical design. That CAD drawing enables him to fabricate an object true to every dimension specified in the design.  

The hemispherical fountain bowl is 60 inches in diameter. Creating this shape from a solid piece of steel involves a lot of technology, a surprising amount of finesse, and loads of skill.  This bowl is not perfectly hemsipherical, but it is extremely close.  Close enough to convince the eye. 

Once the bowl had a 2 inch thick lip of steel, interrupted by 4 evenly spaced scuppers, it was ready to be welded to the base.  Scuppers? The steel lip keeps the water inside the bowl.  The scupper is that place where the steel dam had been breached, allowing water to flow and fall over the edge. Once the steel is galvanized, Buck applies our finish.  He finished the inside of the bowl, and the base first.  Then the entire fountain, with the aid of a bridge crane, would be flipped up side down for the finishing of the bowl. 

The fountain design is very simple, but massive.  The finished piece weighs close to 1/2 a ton.  It will be placed in a large pool-I am not sure of any of the installation details.  It will take some skill to size the pump properly, so the water sheets over the side without runing back under the scupper, and down the side of the bowl.  Fountain design, fabrication and installation takes a lot of skill. 

The urn, on the forklift in the foreground, is much smaller than the fountain, and will be placed in some other location on the project.  This piece will be planted.  Both pieces were shipped up side down, for obvious reasons.  All of the weight of the steel is at the top.

The fountain does not have a jet.  The pump will push water hard enough to keep the water flowing fast over the 4 scuppers and into the pool.  The contractor for the project wanted this copper pipe and stop valve installed just as you see here.  

Buck did not crate this piece-what crate would be stronger than this steel?  Circular shapes are very stable and incredibly strong-even more so when they are made of steel.  I have heard I will get pictures of the installation once it is finished and running.  I have my fingers crossed about that. Buck tells me the level of the base and the level of the top of the fountain is within a 1/16 of an inch of being dead on.  Dead on and level is very important where water is concerned.  In a perfect world, water will fall over all 4 sides equally.  In an imperfect world, within  1/16 of an inch of perfect will work. Buck and his crew make lots of things that are a part of something bigger.  If no pictures are forthcoming, I have some help.  Buck has family in Fort Worth.  What fun, that they will get to see something he made, available for the looking,  just across town.

At A Glance: More Normal














New Dirt

It is a much easier job to keep Milo clean than the shop.  Once he dries, the dirt falls off.  Once a month, he gets the works from Lexi from the Aussie Pet Mobile.   The shop, however, is 10,000 square feet that is likely to get very dirty-daunting, this.  My work life grew out of a love for dirt. The soil that comprises the earth beneath my feet-life giving.  The dirt that goes into any container sustains all manner of visual dialogue.  Who was it that said dirt is soil in the wrong place?  Though we spend lots of time sweeping, vacuuming and dusting, the end of a season means some part of a season’s worth of dirt has accumulated. 

We close (but are open every day by chance or appointment) from January 15 until March 1st.  We move every object we own out of the way, in order to thoroughly clean the shop.  Once we have vacuumed and dusted and wiped every surface clean, we repaint.  Though we are about to enter our 16th year in business, there is nothing about Detroit Garden Works 2012 season opening that will prove dusty or thoughtless.  Just like every other new season, we will be ready and fresh.  My shop spring cleaning takes from mid-January until mid-February. In the same spirit as we imagine, acquire and assemble a new collection, we sweep out all of the dirt.  The fresh paint is a given.  How we choose to redecorate the six rooms of display space has everything to do with the spring collection on the way.  

That chocolate color that reminds me of the darkest and richest compost-it was on my mind.  These bracket fungus engage my interest in beautifully natural textures, and my enchantment with that color I call dirt. That dark dirt color seems just right.    

I will admit I own a fleet of ladders.  They enable me to clean and redo, to look at what I have done before from a different perspective.  I have been up and down the ladders for a week now.  I will admit committing to the intensity and saturation of this deep chocolate worried me some. But I am more than pleased with how it is shaping up.   

We have no end of antiques and great vintage ornament.  Great contemporary ornament.  We manufacture our own garden ornament, and represent many other fine makers.  I so enjoy this yearly ritual by which we integrate our existing garden ornament with all that comes new.  Each season has its own distinctive flavor and emphasis.   

I do have pictures of most everything on the way, whether it is coming from France, Belgium or Biloxi.  But photographs are a representation, not the real thing.  Everything that Rob has ordered will need an introduction to the shop.  Taking the time to completely redo every space is a considerable and satisfying undertaking.  Rob has spent over 2 of the past 16 years travelling and buying objects for gardens.  The presentation of that work of his takes time.  

We have a pair of containers from France due in a few days.  How long they will take to clear customs is anyone’s guess.  But that process will buy us a little more time to get ready.   

I should have named him Hoover, considering all the dirt he manages to pick up.  Hopefully we’ll make quick work of the shop dirt, and move on to making the shop an experience we’ve not yet had.      

The shop front spring will not look like it did here in 2010. Something new and fresh will be coming from that dirt.



A Christmas Eve Celebration

You may recall a post I wrote just before Christmas entitled “Gifts That Gardeners Give”.  I pictured a wreath I had made as a gift for two very good friends.  They live on and love a big wild piece of property in what I call “the country”.  They were very enthusiastic about the gift-enough so to suggest they would make it an integral part of their traditional Christmas Eve dinner celebration.  Of course I asked for pictures.  I got more than that.  I got the story of the evening in pictures.   

The mercury glass candlesticks I had seen before.  Their 19th century stone house features generously deep window sills that are perfect for collections.  The simple wood bird sculptures I had not seen.  How elegant they are, each holding a sprig of holiday greens in their beaks.    

The candlesticks and birds dressed for the occasion ran the length of the holiday table.  I like that height that captures one’s attention and sets the mood upon entering the room.

They would do little to obstruct the seated views across the table.  I was delighted to see that the wreath was most definitely part of their holiday celebration. 

The table setting was exquisite. The silver and linens, quite formal.  The arrangement of all of the elements, rhythmic in a purely personal way.

Arranged around the bases of the birds and candlesticks, an assortment of fruits, ornaments, and bits from the garden. The nest in the wreath was handmade by some unknown bird with various grasses, twigs, and other natural detritus. I added a lining of milkweed seeds still attached to their fluff.  The surface of the table was similarly decorated with an assortment of like-spirited objects of their own choosing. 

I think their table was breathtaking.  The rickrack over the mercury glass calls to mind the string that could easily be part of a bird’s nest.  Fruits, nuts, and ornaments in various colors and shapes are the unexpected underplanting to the silver, white and glass dinner service.

The photographs are as beautifully composed as the table. 






Many thanks to my friends for permitting me to share the photographs of their Christmas Eve dinner table.  It is gorgeous, is it not?