Introduction: Paint Can Floating Tap Water Feature
My husband always wanted to create one of those floating water features where the tap is magically suspended above a watering can. A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled on his stash and decided to order a pump so I could make it for him for Valentines Day.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
I wasn’t going to make just any water feature though! Painting is a big part of his job so I decided to substitute the watering can he had planned to use for an empty paint can that would have otherwise been thrown out (I love to upcycle garbage)!
You know what they say about the best laid plans! As I mentioned, I was going to make this for Valentines Day, but I was so excited to share it with him that I got him involved in helping me in the early stages (but I kept the final product a complete surprise).
I ended up making him another Valentines Day gift instead (the paint stick pallet), which still tied in to his occupation but ended up being a more personal token of my love for him!
To start, I gathered all my materials:
- Rigid plastic tubing - 1/4" ID x 3/8" OD
- Recycled 1 gallon black plastic paint can 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
Step 2: 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.
We put some masking tape around the top so we could evenly mark our 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.
In the picture 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″).
Step 3: Make a Hole for the Grommet
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 my husband went on his merry way – oblivious to the fact of what I was really making for him!
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 and 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.
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.
Step 4: Test the Cord
Snap the second piece of the grommet on; it provides a good strain relief for the cord and the black blends in with the paint can!
Step 5: Cut Sheet Protector for Bottom
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 one more thing that would have ended up in the garbage because it was old and creased, so it was perfect for this purpose.
Step 6: Paint the Lid
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.
Step 7: Add Your Drips and Watch Paint 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 (my third recycled item used for this project!). Y
At the bottom of the can, on top of the sheet protector, I added more paint to mimic the flow of the paint spill and set the can aside to dry.
Step 8: Seal Tube With Waterproof Mastic
I used some water proof mastic to seal the end of the tube to the faucet and also at the connection to the pump.
Step 9: Cut Plastic Sheet and Assemble
I slid the can onto a board and cut around the paint spill on the plastic sheet so I could removed the excess.
Insert the pump into the can. 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 of the grommet; in case you ever need to remove the pump you’ll be able to get the cord out again.
Step 10: Add Glass Gems
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.
Step 11: Add Water (Preferably Distilled)
Pour enough distilled 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!
Step 12: Plug It in and Watch in Awe!
I positioned the paint lid beside the paint bucket, then leaned the paint brush on top of the lid.
My husband 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!
Step 13: Maintenance
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.
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