When I was a kid my parents dragged me to Longwood Gardens on a family vacation. The highlight for me was the topiary dinosaurs, but my Dad was really blown away by a fountain called the Eye of Water. In fact he still mentions it 20 years after we went there. So since it was Father's Day, and this year has been a rough one, I decided to make Dad his own fountain inspired by the Eye of Water.

I wanted the fountain to have a nice round shape that the water would gently roll over just like the Eye of Water did, because this is the feature Dad mentions most often when he talks about it. To achieve this I used bowling balls from the local thrift store. I did this because it was relatively inexpensive and I'm not a master craftsman who can carve a round smooth object out of rock/wood/cement/etc.

Step 1: Materials

Here's what I used to make my fountain:

  • 1 fountain pump
  • 3 bowling balls
  • About 3 feet of vinyl tubing (ID 1/2", OD 3/4")
  • Metal rods of various diameters & lengths
  • Epoxy
  • Epoxy putty
  • Spray primer
  • Blue spray paint
  • Clear spray paint
  • 1 flower pot
  • Shredded paper

A note on pumps. Be sure to choose a pump that has the power to lift water as high as your fountain. Also be sure to read the instructions for vital bits of information like the minimum amount of water needed to run the pump, how to adjust flow rate, or any kind of regular maintenance that may be needed.
<p>Nitpicky question here: how heavy were the balls you used? I have a feeling that might affect what support structure could be used</p>
I honestly don't remember the weights. I am guessing between 9 and 12 pounds as the fountain isn't that hard to move.
This would be really cool to see in bowling alleys! I would even like one of my own. Great instructable. I wonder if <a href="http://www.burlingtonbowl.com" rel="nofollow">bowling in milton</a> has a cool fountain like this? That would be awesome!
Couldn't this be done without cutting the bowling balls? How about simply drilling and stacking on a pipe of some sort?
That would probably work as the pipe would provide the support along with a path for water flow.
could u do a usb version with golf or ping-pong balls?
In theory yes. You'd have to find a pump that would run on the voltage provided by USB. (I think it is 5 volts but I'm not 100% sure on that.)
According to Wikipedia USB does offer 5 volt power.
Yay! Supplies are on hand. One bowling ball drilled - two to go :) Drilling through wasn't bad at all - of course, a mans muscles helped a lot! Would like to ask - how is the blue paint holding up??
Dad set it up a couple of months ago for the summer and the paint is holding up well. I sealed it with a couple of coats of clear coat so that should help keep it in shape. However, it is on his screened in porch so it isn't exposed too much to direct sunlight or rain. If you're careful about the paint not getting scratched or chipped the water shouldn't infiltrate it and make it peel.
Bowling balls can be easily found at yard sales and thrift shops for a dollar or so. I also requested some from craigslist, and got two of them for free :) Now.... just have to get hubby to help me with the cutting and drilling! So excited to have a fountain like this!!! :) Thanks for sharing!
Glad you liked it! Post a picture when you get yours finished.
&nbsp;I tink its a little to expensive to use bowling balls
I got all 3 for $10 at the local thrift store. If that isn't a viable option you might be able to scrounge some from friends or family who no longer bowl or from a garage sale. Or you might be able to substitute some other material.
to bad i dont have bowling balls:(((<br /> <br />
Check your local thrift stores. I picked up all three of the balls I used from a thrift store for $10 with tax. Or call a local bowling alley and&nbsp;see if they have any they are going to throw away.
s stars!! faved!!
<strong>Why bowling balls???</strong><br/>
Because golf balls are too small lol:)
Basket balls deflate
But I bet the texture would make neat patterns...
Fill with foam or concrete
You read my mind...Great Stuff.
How about basketball players balls lol
That would be a challenge though. :)
They let me get the nice round shape w/o having to try and mold it out of concrete/plastic or scuplt it out of wood. Plus they are cheap and easy to find.
Very nicely done! Great recycle of materials, too!
So? What did Dad think? I like the reuse of discarded bowling balls & the ingenuity, but how does Dad like it? :P
Dad loved it. They have it on their screened in porch. He turns it on for background noise when he goes out to read. He finds the sound very relaxing.
unfortunately, it is better to give it to me..haha
How many licks does it take to get to the center of a bowling ball?? Good Instructable!!
Sorry, if I missed it, but why not cut the balls on the side where the finger holes are, rather than having to fill the holes with paper & expoxy?
You didn't miss it. I didn't think of that. :)
Cool! You know, turned sideways this could make a nice Cootie-themed fountain...
Yeah...you could use pipes to make the legs and maybe even draw the water up from the resevoir.
awe, I thought it would be a floating ball fountain, now those are cool. this is cool too
Those are cool. Hmmm...
This is very nice. There was a project I saw a few years ago in Family Handyman magazine for a spherical fountain on a pillar, but it was all cast from concrete. This is a simpler way to get a similar effect, and a bowling ball would be much lighter! Thanks for the ible.
... in fact someone has already done something similar to the spherical fountain I saw before:<br/><br/><a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Bowling-Ball-Garden-Water-Feature/">http://www.instructables.com/id/Bowling-Ball-Garden-Water-Feature/</a><br/>
Yeah I saw that one after I typed up mine, but before I published. I figured our construction techniques were different enough that it wouldn't be too redundant to post mine. Maybe there should be a bowling ball group...
Awww, what a thoughtful fathers' day gift. Beats a new tie any day...;) Well done!
i live not too far from longwood gardens. if you haven't been there in a while they now have a whole kids inspired fountain garden by the green house. if you have some lil kids they will love it and probably get soaking wet. i take my nephews there when ever i get a chance. it might give you inspiration for your next project for your dad. your project is pretty sweet. nice work.
Nice! I may try this with just one ball, for my mom-in-law. Good detailed 'ible. Thanks!
No problem. Post a pic if you do it. I'm curious to see how a uni-ball turns out.
That looks so beautifull, i love it.<br/><br/>I definately gonna do something with the Idea of the Bowling ball.<br/>That Eye of Water (or whatever it was called... uh my stupid brain) also is something really nice.<br/>I think about reacreating the Eye itself witf the bowling ball as the black center of an eye, but we don't got the space for something that big (can't be too small because of the ball and the dimensions...).<br/>But maybee a Nine-pin &quot;bowling ball&quot; could make the overall dimensions so it fits.<br/>Well if not, i just drop the idea of the iris and just use the ball =]<br/>
There are a coup;e of other ibles that use bowling balls that might provide you some inspiration. I also saw a TV show (Trading Spaces I think) where they used bowling balls as new feet on a couch they were redoing and wanted to raise up off the floor.
That's really cool, your dad must love it!
Yeah he was thrilled shitless, to use one of his favorite phrases. I was worried he would fake loving it, but I got the geniune response that makes homemade gifts worthwhile.

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Bio: I'm cheap and like to use what I have on hand and I really enjoy taking things apart to salvage parts. Rather than be ... More »
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