Interesting Fountain Commissions

Interesting Fountain Commissions

Among the many fountain projects I have had, some unusual and interesting ones stand out, three in particular.

The first was commissioned by Glaxo SmithKline for its facility in Sussex. It was to be a snake twined round a staff, representing the symbol of Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine (see image). I had never attempted a snake fountain and it was fascinating to work out how to make it and how to direct the water in an interesting way.

I first made the staff of cylindrical copper with a cap and then built a  copper skeleton, loosely twining round the staff. The skeleton was made in the same way as an early aircraft fuselage, with long ailerons curved over a series of bulkheads, all in copper, running the whole length of the snake. The backbone of the skeleton was a copper tube to carry the water up from the staff to the snake's head and provide extra structural strength. All these were brazed together with a silver/copper alloy which gives great strength.

The most time consuming part was then to make all the copper scales to cover the snake and make up his head. I cut all these by hand in strips, each one overlapping, and brazed them round his body. The scales had to taper in size from very small near his tail to larger in the middle and smaller again near his head. Then his head, eyes and nostrils followed last.

Finally I had arranged that water was to be fed to his nostrils and form two upward curving arcs, to fall in the pond below and make a gentle splashing sound. At the same time, water was fed from the scales behind his head, running down over his whole body, so he glistens in the light.