Things You'll Need
Sheet of Plexiglas
Ceramic or metal container
Smooth river rocks or pebbles
Small submersible pump
Clear silicone or rubber tubing
Faux slate veneer or ceramic tiles
Newspapers or plastic protective covering
Knife with sharp point
Cork for tubing plug
Water-resistant tape (optional)
The tile or faux stone backing masks the water tube from view. If you prefer to see the workings of the waterfall, skip that step and glue the tubing directly to the transparent Plexiglas. Be sure to get a sturdy piece of Plexiglas, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick at least, so it will remain rigid in the container.
Water sheeting over a flat edge is elegant and soothing. Whether the water falls and splashes into a basin or slides down a vertical surface to vanish in a pond or a pile of rocks, it creates an interesting synergy. Falling water that is planned, not randomly spontaneous, is both an homage to nature and an acknowledgement that we are becoming strictly urban creatures. But less access to raw nature doesn't mean diminished desire to have the elements in our world, so build a sheeting waterfall for a tabletop, a living room wall or a patio and enjoy the music.
Start small. Build a tabletop sheeting waterfall first and then expand your knowledge to more ambitious water features. Select a flat sheet of Plexiglas and a container at least six inches wider than the Plexiglas and deep enough to hold a pebble-covered submersible pump.
Place the pump in the container and run the flexible clear water tube and the power cord over the back side of the container. Fill the container about 1/3 full of smooth river rocks or large pebbles that will hide the pump.
Lay the Plexiglas sheet on a protected surface, face down; the side facing the newspaper or other protective covering becomes, by default, the front. Apply liquid cement to the back of the Plexiglas and set the opaque backing – tiles, faux slate veneer or any waterproof material – on the sheet, pressing down to ensure good adhesion. Let the liquid cement dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Stand the Plexiglas sheet with its dry backing in the container, as close to the middle as possible. Work it gently down into the rocks or pebbles and then fill the container to within ¾ inch of the top with the rest of the decorative pebbles to support the Plexiglas and keep it upright.
Fill the container with water and place the end of the water tube in a plastic basin. Connect the pump to power, turn it on and check that it is working properly. Empty the water in the plastic basin back into the waterfall container.
Tape or cement the clear tubing to the back of the Plexiglas sheet and run it along the top edge of the sheet, gluing it in place. Glue a cork plug in the end of the tube. Use a nail to make holes along the front of the tube, close to where it rests on the Plexiglas sheet. Twist a sharp knife point carefully in the nail holes to enlarge them so the water can flow through freely. The holes should be about 1/8 to ¼ inch in diameter.
Turn on the pump. The water should flow out the holes along the top and run like a sheet down the Plexiglas into the pebble-filled basin. Adjust for any splashing. Be sure to keep the container topped off with water to avoid burning out the pump.
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .