The web site for all professionals and consumers who've made or want to make water a part of their lives

2017/3.2, March 22 -- Water-Use Wisdom, Prefab Spas, Fountain Folly and more

        March 22, 2017                                                                                                                      www.watershapes.com

Beyond the Tap  

Needing to testify to the sustainability of a fountain project is now common.  The good news, writes Robert Mikula, is that it's becoming easier to defend the inclusion of any type of watershape if you make resource conservation a clear, distinct, reachable goal from the get-go.   [more]
A Fuller Experience

Some clients want all the benefits of a manufactured spa to go along with their inground pools.  As Dave Hoffman explains here, there's a ready-made option for these folks, one that's easy to design into a poolscape so long as you keep a few basic practicalities in mind.    [more] 


Worst Expressions

In his hunt for watershapes worth visiting, Jim McCloskey

has never had occasion to discuss one that is so unremarkable that he advises you to stay away.  He breaks with that practice this time, however, highlighting a fountain so bland that it gives 'lackluster' a bad name.    [more]

Casting Nature                    

Decorative-concrete artist Tommy T. Cook has built a reputation for being able to create almost anything from concrete using an array of highly refined and boldly artful processes.  In this feature, he demonstrates a portion of that skill by describing how he uses the gargantuan Gunnera plant to craft watershapes in which replicas of the plant's outsized leaves serve as uniquely natural fountain basins and spillways. 

This article, originally published in WaterShapes in November 2010, has been digitized for all readers.  Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study them in detail.

Beware of Exploding Lava Rocks

These days, an increasing number of projects include fire effects as part of the package.  This can lead to troubling results, notes Scott Cohen, if you're careless in selecting the material used to cover the burners.  Here's a look at what can happen -- and how to avoid big trouble.   [more]
Pee's in the Air

The Internet's been buzzing with a 'revelation' that there's urine in the average swimming pool.  Jim McCloskey wasn't surprised by that fact, of course, but he's been shocked by the way news outlets have covered the story without giving certain realities due consideration.   [more]
Generosity Hurts Dept.:  Thai turtle gobbles up change tossed in fountain, gets a bad stomach ache.   [more] 
Vet finds 915 coins in a critter nicknamed 'Piggy Bank'     
Art Oddities Dept.:  Australian photographer installs giant photo of one resort within the pool of another.  [more]
It was there for a day, then vanished like a dream vacation 

The Currency of Beauty                               

Back in 2002, David Tisherman wrote passionately about setting aside the 'sales mentality' used by many watershapers, urging them to dig deeper and conjure up something superior for their clients.   [more] 
Pentair Introduces High-Performance Heat Pump

Pentair Aquatic Systems (Sanford, NC) now offers the UltraTemp heat pump.  Charged with non-ozone-depleting refrigerant, the unit has a titanium heat exchanger for long, corrosion-free performance; LCD controls with intuitive, easy-to-follow readouts; and a system that monitors water temperature to maintain desired heating levels.  For details, click  here.
Natural-Boulder Fire Features from Stone Forest

Stone Forest (Santa Fe, NM) offers fire features made using split natural boulders.  Designed for outdoor use only with a custom gas kit and tempered-glass fire rocks in light blue or black, the units are approximately 18 inches high and come with varying diameters of up to 50 inches wide and 40 inches deep (size, shape and color will vary).   For details, click here.
Your Brand

If you design and/or build pools, spas, fountains, ponds, streams, waterfalls and other forms of contained, controlled water, you have the ability to create projects of great beauty.  But how do you spread the word about your skills and talents to those who might want you to help them make water part of their daily lives?
The WaterShapes Professional Network can help yiou there.  We've built a web site where dozens of designers and builders of watershapes of all types participate as an Internet collective -- a grouped entity large enough and interrelated in ways that make search engines treat you with respect.  So if it's a strong (or even just a stronger) web presence you're after, please do take a look and get involved. 
The Network is working just the way we'd hoped:  Time to click aboard?  

2017/3.1, March 8 -- Asymmetrical Beauty, Aquatic Insects, Polymer Finishes and more

        March 8, 2017                                                                                                                          www.watershapes.com

Riverside Recreation  

To win this backyard project in competition with three big Atlanta architecture firms, Shane LeBlanc had to call on his eye for grand-scale details in creating a delightfully asymmetrical poolscape -- one that looks polished, inviting and fun from every conceivable angle.   [more]

Winged Wildlife

Pond owners tend to focus on the larger forms of wildlife that enjoy being in or near their watergardens.  But as Ed Beaulieu points out here, there are dozens of diminutive creatures that merit attention -- and also do a remarkable job of bolstering and sustaining the ecosystem.     [more]


Weighing Possibilities

Through the years, Brian Davis has been asked to try all sorts of 'wonder products' -- a process that has made him so skeptical that he tests almost everything he sees.  As he discusses here, that included a thermo-polymer option to Portland cement-based pool finishes.    [more]


Swimming to Longevity                    

Delivering the keynote address to the World Aquatic Health Conference in September 2008, Dr. Steven N. Blair asked a simple question:  Does swimming reduce your risk of dying?  As he stressed then and repeats in detail here, the answer is a resounding yes.  Indeed, the findings he offers stand among the most compelling reasons ever offered to promote swimming and other forms of aquatic exercise to the general public.

This article, originally published in WaterShapes in May 2009, has been digitized for all readers.  Click here to see the full text.
Covering the Traces

In 2008, Bostonians were compensated for 50 years of tolerating urban blight when the raised highway that split their city was demolished.  Now, a string of parks Lynn Wolff and John Copley
describe here link the waterfront with the downtown area -- definitely worth a visit!   [more]

A Better Plan?

The swimming and diving was magnificent at the Rio Olympics last summer, and the pools were beautiful, too -- but performed poorly and now seem doomed.  This leads Jim McCloskey to make a modest suggestion toward helping to ensure better results next time.     [more]
Magic Fountain Dept.:  A slithering dragon projected across a sheet of water vapor wows the crowd.   [more] 
The video is all too brief, but the 3-D effect is amazing.     
Killer Curl Dept.:  Kelly Slater releases a mind-bending new video of his wave machine in action.   [more]
In a lifetime at the beach, I've never seen such perfection.

Making the List                               

Back in 2007, Brian Van Bower wrote persuasively about the importance of gathering information from his design clients -- and of using a key shortcut to make that process streamlined and manageable.    [more] 
Stegmeier's Textured Pool Forming System

Stegmeier (Arlington, TX) manufactures Texturit, an economical, reuseable pool-coping form that provides a stone-edge look and feel.  The cantilever forms attach to the tile on a gunite, fiberglass or vinyl-liner pool using three strips of double-faced tape that hold the form in place without tie wires.  The flexible units conform to any contour.  For details, click here.
PAL Lighting Offers Water Blade LED Lights     

PAL Lighting (Tucson, AZ) supplies Water Blade, a full-color LED light system designed to illuminate spillways and scuppers.  Designed for wet locations and available in lengths up to eight feet, the units have WiFi-control compatibility and come with remotes that manage color, speed and brightness while recalling the last setting for easy mood adjustment.  For details, click  here.
We're Here
to Help You Grow

The numbers are wild:  The listings of most companies participating in the  WaterShapes Professional Network have been visited by consumers hundreds of times, which isn't surprising.  What really grabs the eye is that fact that, on average, those who view these listings are clicking through to the companies' own web sites more than 35 percent of the time the listing is viewed.  And in a couple of remarkable cases, way over 50 percent of those viewing a WPN listing are clicking through to participants' web sites to get more information. 
The Network is working just the way we'd hoped:  Time to click aboard?  

2017/2.2, February 22 -- Sustaining Water, Frosty Ponds, Nautical Meditations and more

        February 22, 2017                                                                                                                 www.watershapes.com

Water's Place  

We're all naturally attracted to water, writes Robert Mikula, but with perceptions of its preciousness and scarcity on the rise, it has become increasingly difficult to ensure its inclusion in built environments.  Here's the first of three articles about pathways through the obstacles.   [more]

Ponds and Ice

Ponds can be gorgeous year 'round, even in winter.  But keeping them attractive in truly cold weather involves some preparation, writes Mike Gannon, and a willingness to get active outdoors to keep things on track at a time when being indoors might seem a far better idea!      [more]

A Tale of Two Admirals

Unexpected encounters with two naval eminences highlighted a trip Jim McCloskey made to Washington, D.C., many years ago -- a visit during which he accidentally discovered the calming, mind-clearing potential of the memorial fountain at the heart of Dupont Circle.    [more]

Pond Perfection                   

There's no doubt that the 'pond craze' spells opportunity for watershapers.  But a hot market can be a two-edged sword, observes pond/stream/cascade specialist Rick Anderson, because it draws in many who lack the technical, artistic and philosophical foundations needed to deliver high-quality work.  What he suggests here is that it's time to step back, consider what's at stake -- and take a long look at fundamentals that will help the market flourish. 

This article, originally published in WaterShapes in May 2002, has been digitized for all readers.  Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study them in detail.

Tuning the Sound of Falling Water

Scott Cohen recalls a project in which he created two stone waterfalls flanking a fireplace -- visually gorgeous but sounding more or less like a two giants relieving themselves into oversized toilets.  He learned a lesson -- and found a way to devise a tuneful solution.  [more]
Trend Tracking

To introduce a series of three significant articles on sustainable water and energy use that begins with this newsletter, Jim McCloskey places all of them in the context of a handful of trends that started emerging more than 40 years ago -- and won't fade anytime soon.   [more]
Oddly Damp Dept.:  A hot tub-themed amusement park is set to open, complete with water-filled rides.   [more] 
There's just one reasonable comment:  Only in Japan!    
All Wet Dept.:  Creative Belgian opens an underwater restaurant you need scuba gear to reach.  [more]
Maybe he should open a franchise beneath Hot Tub Land.

Too Little, Too Late?                              

Back in 2007, Stephanie Rose wrote passionately about the problem of too many watershape and hardscape designs leaving way too little room for planting areas.  Why is it so difficult to plan for plants?    [more] 
Hayward Introduces TriStar VS 950 Pump

Hayward Pool Products (Elizabeth, NJ) has unveiled the TriStar VS 950 variable-speed pump as part of its Expert Line.  Designed for residential applications in which they replace high-performance pumps rated up to three horsepower, the energy-efficient units feature chemical-resistant Viton seals, extra-large leaf/debris baskets and programmable controls.  For details, click  here.
Thermo-Polymer Pool Surfaces from EcoFinishes    

EcoFinish (Warminster, PA) produces AquaBright, a thermo-polymer interior finish for swimming pools.  Designed for quick curing, easy fill-water balancing, long-term chemical resistance (even to acid washing) and complete color uniformity as the pool ages, the material is available in 18 colors and comes pre-mixed, ready for application.  For details, click here.
May We Be
of Assistance?

Those of you who design and build pools, spas, fountains, ponds, streams, waterfalls and other forms of contained, controlled water have an amazing ability to produce works of great beauty.  But you also face real challenges when it comes to conveying messages about your skills and talents to consumers and prospective clients who might be interested in having you help them make water part of their daily lives.
That's where the WaterShapes Professional Network can help:  We've built a web presence in which dozens of designers and builders of watershapes of all types participate as an Internet colossus -- a grouped entity large and interconnected enough that the search engines have to treat it with respect.  So if it's a strong (or even just a stronger) web presence you're after, please do take a look and get involved. 
The Network is working just the way we'd hoped:  Time to click aboard?  

2017/2.1, February 8 -- Mosaic Artistry, Pond-Size Wisdom, Plaster Pigments and more

        February 8, 2017                                                                                              www.watershapes.com

Following Lines  

When it comes to refining the way mosaic tile projects come together, says Jimmy Reed, there's no substitute for persistence in working on intersections where surface planes flow into one another.  It takes patience, he adds, and a crew trained to pursue visual perfection.   [more]
Pond Calculations

Lots of people know how to figure out how many gallons there are in a given pond.  But as Eric Triplett explains in introducing this video, fewer know how helpful that bit of information can be in designing and, for the long haul, in maintaining a thriving watershape.   [more]

Pigments and Pools
Colored plaster and aggregate finishes are found in more and more watershapes these days.  But as Que Hales, Doug Latta and Kim Skinner discuss, not all pigments are created equal -- and knowing how to choose among the options can be the key to a project's success.    [more]
Considering an Option                  

Most suction-entrapment accidents occur when someone gets caught on a watershape drain that has somehow been compromised.  This fact prompted Ray Cronise, a former NASA scientist and current pool company executive, to take a scientific approach and use sophisticated computer software to see what was really going on.  His surprising conclusion:  For proper circulation, watershapes don't need the drains that seem to be the focus of the problem. 

This article, originally published in WaterShapes in November 2008, has been digitized for all readers.  Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study them in detail.

Historic Treatments

Philadelphia's Fairmount Water Works is a monument to the history of water treatment.  Established in 1815 and now restored and open to the public, the facility is all about education, writes Ed Grusheski -- and is well worth a visit the next time you travel to the City of Brotherly Love.  [more]
Silver Linings

California's persistent drought is in retreat -- at least for now.  That's sweet relief, notes Jim McCloskey, but it's absolutely no reason to set aside all the valuable lessons watershapers have had to learn while surviving challenge after challenge through the past half-dozen years.   [more]
A Dog's Life Dept.:  Rescue dogs honor fallen comrade by swimming in a pool filled with tennis balls.  [more] 
It's cute, but I can't help thinking it's a canine's nightmare!  
A Dog's Life Dept., Part 2:  This buoyant pooch has truly found a pathway to jet-induced puppy nirvana.  [more] 
Begs the question:  Is this how besotted I look in my spa?

The Best Medicine                             

Five months after September 11, 2001, Brian Van Bower meditated on the societal value of watershapes.  Rereading his words today shows how much more we must do to make their virtues better understood.  [more] 
Custom Molded Products Offers Unblockable Drain

Custom Molded Products (Newnan, GA) has improved its heavy-duty channel drain for increased strength and durability.  The units feature a new, integrated water stop to prevent leaks, maintain drain shape and lock into the surrounding concrete.  There are also added reinforcing ribs to prevent deformation when the drains are placed in pools.  For details, click  here.
Modular Shade System from BioClimatic Structures    

BioClimatic Structures (Pompton Plains, NJ) is the U.S. distributor for Arlequin Pergolas.  Made by Solisysteme in France, the systems feature sliding panels -- available in 22 colors -- that can easily be arranged to let sun and weather in or block it out.  The supporting structures can be custom configured, or the panels can be added to existing structures.  For details, click here.
Want to Build
Your Web Traffic?

Through the years, watershapers have invested extensively in building beautiful web sites -- but for the most part have been unable to figure out how to help prospective clients find them amid the chaos of the Internet.  Why so?  It's because building a strong web presence as a stand-alone site is a tough way to go -- and that's precisely why we started the WaterShapes Professional Network.
By building a collective presence in which dozens and, eventually,  hundreds of sites participate as an interlinked colossus, we become a group entity the search engines can't overlook.  So if it's a strong (or stronger) web presence you're after, check it out.
 The Network is working just the way we'd hoped:  Time to click aboard?  

2017/1.2, January 25 -- Fish Out Front, Water Wall Basics, Japanese Style and more

        January 25, 2017                                                                                                          www.watershapes.com

Working Out Front  

There were some positives in the existing front yard, says Colleen Holmes.  But the overall space needed lots of attention to turn the Koi pond and its bland, disjointed surroundings into a warmer, more effective transition from the public sphere to the family's private retreat.    [more]
#25:  Water Wall

Water flowing down a wall brings a lot to the table as a source of visual and aural delight.  But as Mike Farley discusses in introducing this video, there's much more to these features than meets the eye, particularly if you want them to express their full and inspiring potential.   [more]

The Eastern Way
The Huntington Botanical Gardens are a must for any watershaper or landscape designer who visits Los Angeles.  While you're there, writes Jim McCloskey, you should make time to stroll through and enjoy the show- stopping magnificence of its Japanese garden.   [more]

Up on Rocky Top                 

Even for a firm that specializes in massive natural-stone watershapes, this Pennsylvania project was one for the record books.  Working for an enthusiastic client who demanded beauty and visual drama on a truly enormous scale, the staff at Glacier Inc. stepped well beyond the usual in renovating a 78-acre private lake while creating a long, cascading stone stream and waterfall -- with a grotto thrown in for good measure.  

This article, originally published in WaterShapes in February 2002, has been digitized for all readers.  Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study them in detail.

The Case of the Vanishing Stone

A company was hired to build a pool with a waterfall made up of natural stone.  Only one problem:  Every time the water flowed, writes Scott Cohen, rock material would slough off and fall into the pool -- and underlined another crucial lesson every watershaper should learn.   [more]
Collision Avoidance

At a time awash in unsettling news, Jim McCloskey was unusually happy to receive a bulletin indicating that the National Swimming Pool Foundation and the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals had called off their recently proposed merger.   Oh, what sweet relief!    [more]
More Winter Follies Dept.:  Swim team wins a medley snow relay in what must be world-record time.  [more] 
But the fourth guy momentarily forgets he isn't in a pool!   
Even More Dept.:  A gaggle of fun-loving 'bros' explore    the ice shelf atop a frozen Roman fountain.  [more]
Flocking in one place proved a not-so-great idea.

Delicate Dynamics                              

In 2002, David Tisherman shared his approach to turning monotonous spillways into unique visual and aural design elements.  In doing so, he started something of a revolution that's still flowing strong today.   [more]
Hayward Commercial Releases HCP 3000 Pumps

Hayward Commercial Pool (Elizabeth, NJ) has introduced the  HCP 3000 Series of pumps to provide the power and efficiency needed by commercial pools.  Equipped with three-inch unions to achieve flow rates of more than 250 gpm at 60 feet of head, the units include removable, over-sized strainer baskets, TEFC motors and chemical-resistant Vitron seals.  For details, click  here.
Pebble Technology Introduces Concrete Bowls   

Pebble Technology (Scottsdale, AZ) has added concrete bowls to its product mix.  Offered in five styles (fire only, planter only, fire with water, planter with water and water alone) in three shapes and three colors, the bowls are designed for reduced weight and great strength.  Water models include copper spillways; fire models work with gas or propane.  For details, click here.
Positioning Your
Business for 2017

These days, the Internet is the information resource of choice for those looking for goods and services.  But it's tough for an individual business to capture eyes amid the bewildering array of options facing consumers as they try to find ways to make water part of their home or working lives

That's why we started the WaterShapes Professional Network -- a place consumers are using to get basic information about pool. pond and fountain designers and builders before they start making direct phone calls to arrange for site visits and bids.  It's a new way of making initial contacts and getting in the game.

The Network is working just the way we'd hoped:  Time to click aboard?

2017/1.1, January 11 -- Contemporary Clarity, Using Bamboo, Navy Pier Magic and more

        January 11, 2017                                                                                                                 www.watershapes.com

Working the Angles  

The inside of the client's home reflected her refined style sense, but the outside, well, not so much.  That led Kurt Kraisinger to pursue a path that transformed her humdrum suburban backyard into a sleek Contemporary showpiece -- one with a subtly nautical presence.   [more]
Bamboo Basics

When it comes to the plants he uses around his ponds, Eric Triplett always keeps an open mind.  And that's particularly true about one sort of plant that he loves to include when he can -- but that many other landscape and pond professionals tend to avoid like the plague.   [more]


First Impressions
An extensive facelift for Chicago's famed Navy Pier involved creating a brand-new park at its entrance, complete with a large interactive fountain.  Working in so public a space amps up the pressure, notes Asmaa Elkorazati -- and puts a premium on having the right project team.   [more]

House Work                

Among all of David Tisherman's many projects, this one carried him about as far as it could beyond his usual role as a watershaper:  Not only did he design and install an impressive pool, but he also partnered in building the house that went along with it.  Working in a rich color palette and soaring, eclectic architecture, he crafted a masterpiece of form and reflection and made the house seem to float on the watershape that embraces it.                  

This article, originally published in WaterShapes in February 2009, has been digitized for all readers.  Click here to see the full text and enlarge the images to study them in detail.

Fountain Perfection

If you're looking for a destination that includes -- in just one place -- several of the most beautiful and influential fountains of all time, you couldn't go wrong in visiting this site.  As Mark Holden sees it, Italy's Villa d'Este is worthy of inclusion on every watershaper's bucket list.  [more]

Looking Ahead

Before closing the book on 2016, Jim McCloskey felt obliged to revisit three news items that grabbed his attention late last year.  Two are strongly positive and say a lot about watershaping's potential, while the third is a source of concern that just won't go away.   [more]
Bad Winter Ideas Dept.:  A wise-guy duo decides to run across the frozen surface of a swimming pool.  [more] 
Silly assumptions lead them to quick, fully clothed folly. 
Bad Winter Ideas Dept., Part 2:  A golfing genius decides to play it where it lays on a frozen pond's surface.  [more]
Cleats alone can't save this guy from a truly epic fail.

Are You Smiling?                             

Back in 2002, Brian Van Bower started the year by addressing the importance of putting your best foot forward in dealing with clients -- a message that packs even more punch in today's marketplace.    [more]
Blue Thumb Offers Twister Fountains

Blue Thumb Distributing (Saginaw, MI) markets the Twister Mini-Fountain Kit by Aqua Bella.  Available as a 12-inch-tall, 12-inch-diameter cylinder, the funnel-shaped water effect provides high levels of visual appeal in a compact package.  The kit comes with all needed components, including a basin, a pump, plumbing and a special cleaning pad.  For details, click here.
Pentair Commercial Adds New BioShield UV Unit  

Pentair Water Commercial Pool & Aquatics (Sanford, NC) has released BioShield, an ultraviolet water-disinfection system for commercial swimming facilities.  The low-pressure units install vertically to save space and destroy harmful waterborne pathogens and irritating chloramines.  They also have single-end, top-loading UV lamps for easy servicing.  For details, click here.
Ready for
the New Year?

The 2017 season is just around the corner -- an opportune time to make certain that strong messages about what you do are found where homeowners and commercial clients will see them.

One such resource is the WaterShapes Professional Network, where increasing numbers of web searchers are looking for information and support that will help them make decisions about who to work with in adding water (and everything that comes with it) to their home and/or business environments.

The Network is working just the way we'd hoped:  Time to click aboard?
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