Rocks, Cobble, Water Features, Sunset Light

Sea House Conservatory Pier, ready for her water feature!

In preparation for creating the tidal water surge under the Sea House Conservatory, I mixed up a nice ocean green base color and painted it generously on the project board. I made sure the whole 26 x 20-inch base — foam cliff landslide, boulders, cobble, gravel, old tiled patio — was well-sealed with glue or paint to prevent water leaks. Two-inch tall heavy acetate strips were cut, ready to glue to the base to form a (removable) perimeter dam.

I estimated an area about 18 by 18 inches would be covered an inch deep, then used the Woodland Scenics water estimator to see how much product I needed to buy. Two, maybe three bottles?

Um, no. No, no, no. Depending on whether I chose “Realistic ($24 for 16 ounces)” or “Deep Pour ($30 for 12 ounces)” the estimated 180 ounces required 12 or 15 product bottles, costing a total of $288 or $450. For a feature, however awesome, mostly obscured beneath the Conservatory deck, this makes no sense. Back to the proverbial literal project board to drastically reduce surface area.

More cowbell! I mean, more reefs and rocks!

After fashioning more florist foam into reefs and rocks, I glued them to the project board.

Black Model Magic rocks and cobble

Starting this time with black Model Magic, I forged another batch of accent rocks.

Rocks, mid-wash and spray process
The open water feature base is realistically and financially reduced.

The foam shoreline formations were generously sealed and detailed with a few shades of warm and cool gray acrylic and stabbing holes with a pointy thing. All base edges were given a transitional application of gravel, cobble and accent rocks. These were allowed to dry, excess gravel brushed out, and the process repeated.

Barnacles make everything better.

“What are those white cone things?” I can hear those of you looking at this photo on your phone exclaim. What, yes! Those white things are perfect barnacles, crafted by Keli of

Rocks to Keli

(I am not ungrateful. We have a longtime water-influenced exchange going on.)

Sea House Conservatory, under the pier

I did a final brushing and shaking off loose gravel after the glue dried over my (1:1 life) front deck, just as the sun was setting.

Kansas remembers me now
The lunatic is on the grass

You know how it is when maybe you fall a little bit too much in love with your build? That’s how it is for me right now with these sunset light photos. I have about a dozen that made first, even second cut, and they are all epic. One more, please indulge me.

Will be largely unseen

I sighted through all the open viewpoints, and as I mentioned earlier, most all will be obscured once the Conservatory is in place. But I know, and now you do too, what lies beneath.

12 thoughts on “Rocks, Cobble, Water Features, Sunset Light

  1. Jeanne says:

    Okay, that is AMAZING.

    I was a little worried at the beginning of the post because those first-stage rocks look a little, um, weird, but barnacled and be-graveled, they are absolutely worth a dozen sunset-light photos!

  2. Marilyn Ormson says:

    I was (unkindly) pleased to discover that someone as talented as yourself fell into ‘that’s-a-great-idea’ trap and then discovered what it would cost… just like me. Saved by your brilliance though. Like the Crow and the Pitcher story it was all sorted. I made that sound so easy and quick didn’t I?
    My word you do live in a lovely place, no wonder you can’t resist capturing the moments. I can smell the seaweed and the wet wood from here.
    PS the barnacles are so beautiful.

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Well. It was a clarifying moment :) And I love the crow and pitcher story, and that’s a brilliant analogy. Or is it metaphor? Simile?
      Kudos to Keli at for the barnies :)

  3. Sheila Lester says:

    Wow! I did not realize how much that ‘water’ would cost… so glad you figured it out before you started the ‘wet’ portion and ended up having to spend so much.

    The rocks and barnacles look great. I’m so excited to see this!

    • Nancy Enge says:

      You and me both, Sheila. I’ve now concentrated where the water will be visible to the front edges of the project base, and set the tide to ‘low’ :) I might have to video the first pour, with breathless commentary…

  4. Bennie says:

    I love how you switched gears from the water feature to a much more reasonably priced rock feature. That was a great transformation. The barnacles look perfect (I knew what they were right away) and adds so much realism to the piers. The sunset photos are perfect too, it makes everything look like reality I got a doll house. Great job!

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Bennie, thanks! There will still be *some* water; hopefully enough to suggest tidal flow.
      Keli did such a sensational job sculpting the barnacles. Glad you like the sunset light, too. Misty magic :)

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