Hubs always wanted to create one of those floating water features where the tap is magically suspended above a watering can. He bought some of the supplies, but that’s as far as he got. When I stumbled on his stash, I decided to order a pump so I could make it for him.
Unbeknownst to him though, I wasn’t going to make just any water feature! Painting is a big part of his life so I decided to substitute the watering can he had planned to use for a paint bucket instead and take it from there.
Gather the following:
- Rigid plastic tubing – 1/4″ ID x 3/8″ OD
- Recycled 1 gallon black plastic paint bucket with lid
- Brass threaded hose bibb – outdoor water spout
- Pump (we use a small one; 30 GPH – make sure you can adjust it down if it’s stronger)
- JB Weld WaterWeld waterproof putty
- Clear glass gems (you can find these at the dollar store)
- Chalk pencil
- Paint brush
- 2″ desk grommet
- High gloss acrylic paint (be sure to get high gloss because if you want it to still look like it’s wet even once it dries!)
- Diamond tip engraver
- Fine hack saw or jig saw
- 1/8″ drill bit
- Black marker
- Recycled sheet protector or acetate
About the Tubing
The tubing has to be rigid so it will hold the weight of the brass spout. We bought a few different sizes to test out. The first one we tried was 1/2″ interior with a 3/4″ outside diameter. It worked just fine but we thought the smaller tube we ended up using looked more realistic in terms of water flow. We used 1/4″ interior with a 3/8″ outside diameter. Keep in mind that the interior dimension of your tubing has to fit over the outlet of your pump, so take that into consideration. As an option, if you can’t find tubing with an interior diameter that fits over the pump outlet, you can always look for fittings for the pump itself to adapt it to fit the tubing.
We cut a piece of the tubing about 14 1/4″ long. The length you cut will depend on the height of your container (along with the pump once it’s attached) so cut the length of the tube to the proportion that looks good with your particular container.
Put some masking tape around the top to clearly mark holes with a marker. Using a 1/8″ drill bit, Hubs drilled 2 rows of holes around the edge of the plastic tube. He drilled 4 on each row for 8 holes in total – about 3/8″ down from the edge. He staggered the positioning of the holes on the second row.
Below you can see we have one row drilled and have the second row marked with the holes offset. We initially started with a larger tube, but as I mentioned, ended up using a small diameter (3/8″ instead of 3/4″).
Once the holes were drilled, we tested the tube on the pump to gauge the flow of the water and see how it would work. Hubs thought I was only using the paint bucket for a trial run, so we brought the tube, pump, faucet and paint bucket to our laundry room sink to give it a go. The pictures from this point forward show the 3/8″ tubing we settled on.
After some adjustment with the flow, we ended up putting the pump flow on a medium setting. We found that worked best for us, but you will need to do your own experimenting to see what works for you. So far so good!
Once we were happy with the mechanics of the water works, I turned my attention to the paint bucket and Hubs went on his merry way – oblivious to the fact that it was going to be part of the final project!
I took apart the grommet and used the larger side to trace a circle with the chalk pencil on the back of the can about an inch or so down from the top. Don’t put it too low because it needs to be above the final waterline which will cover the pump mechanism. You don’t want the water leaking out! I used a diamond tip engraver to trace around the circle so I’d have an outline to follow with my cutting tool.
Cut Hole for Cord
I used a fine hacksaw to cut the circle out (you could also use a jigsaw with a fine blade) and installed the larger side of the grommet into the hole to test it out. You could use some clear caulk around the edges before you permanently install the grommet to seal it. Snap the second piece of the grommet on; it provides a good strain relief for the cord and the black blends in with the bucket!
Moving onto the decorative steps, I first cut a piece of the sheet protector and placed it under the paint can to catch the intentional spills. It’s probably a good idea to glue it onto the bottom of the can at this point because it’s going to be there permanently, as you’ll see later.
I used a glossy paint for this project because when it dries, it will still look like it’s wet and I love that look for this project. I took the paintbrush and dipped it into the paint, then painted the interior of the paint can lid. Set both the lid and the paint brush aside to dry.
I wanted ‘controlled’ drips around the rim and edges of the paint can so I used an eyedropper that I saved from some vitamin drops to place several paint runs around the top. You could probably just do this step with the paint brush too.
At the bottom of the can, on top of the sheet protector, I added more paint to mimic the flow of the paint spill. Once I was satisfied with the amount of paint, I set the can aside to dry.
I used some JB Weld WaterWeld water proof putty to seal the end of the tube to the faucet and also at the connection to the pump.
Cut a small piece of the mastic and knead it according to the directions.
I added a blob to the top of the tube. Make sure you don’t obstruct the holes (I ended up taking some away). As you insert the tube into the faucet, take care that it doesn’t squish into the holes. Hold the two pieces together to let it set up a few minutes before you let go of it.
You should also connect the bottom of the tube to the pump in the same way by rolling out another piece of mastic and winding it around the connection to seal it together. I did this final step much later in the process so I could twist and position the faucet in the can once the pump was inside. Let the mastic dry for at least half an hour or the time suggested in the directions.
In the meantime, I slid the can onto a board and cut around the paint spill on the plastic sheet so I could removed the excess.
I carefully transferred the can onto a lazy suzan to test the final setup.
The bottom of the pump I purchased has suction cups on the bottom so I inserted it into the can and pressed it down against the bottom. Now you can pull the cord of the pump through the back and pop on the other half of the grommet as you saw earlier. There’s no need to seal this part; in case you ever need to remove the pump you’ll be able to get the cord out again.
The top of the tube will be top-heavy due to the weight of the faucet, so I added clear dollar store gems around the pump to steady it and keep it from tipping. I only purchased two bags, but could easily have doubled it! Make sure that the pump is being held securely by whatever you choose to weigh it down; you don’t want it to tip and spew water everywhere when you’re not in the room!
Pour enough water into the bucket to make sure the pump is fully submerged, but not so high that it will leak out of the hole you cut for the cord!
When it was time to pull the whole look together, I set it up on the desk in my craft studio so I could try it out. I fed the cord down through the counter top and left it dangling until I was ready to plug it in. I positioned the paint lid beside the paint bucket, then leaned the paint brush on top of the lid.
When I plugged it in, I was amazed at how realistic it looked. It looked like real flowing water from a magically floating tap. The paint was so shiny I thought it was still wet (but it wasn’t!).
Pulling Off The Surprise
I couldn’t wait to surprise Hubs so I moved the whole shebang upstairs!
Hubs grinned from ear to ear when he walked into the room and saw it. I love getting surprises, but I love giving them even more! I hope he has room for this at his office; I think his co-workers would get a kick out of it – and I’ll undoubtedly need the space for my next craft project 🙂
UPDATE: Hubs loved it so much he refused to move it to the office; I’ll just have to make him another one so he can enjoy it there too!
As you run the pump, some of the water will eventually evaporate. Make sure the pump is fully covered with water; you don’t want to burn out the motor. It’s also a good idea to use distilled water instead of tap water; it will be a lot easier on the pump motor.
If you’re a visual learner, have a look at this video of the process (and subscribe to our YouTube Channel)!
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Other Water Features We’ve Done – Outdoors
If you love water features as much as us, here are two inspirational pond projects you may want to consider tackling:
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