[Sca-cooks] table fountains

Johnna Holloway johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu
Fri Oct 27 04:04:38 PDT 2006

We discussed fountains before on the Subtleties list.
Here are some notes from our files-- Morwenna wrote:
A few years ago master John McGuire made a swan-shaped cake "wine"
(really grape juice) fountain. You can read about it here:
http://www.jtdiii.com/Recipes/recipes.html It's the third article down.

Baroness Faerisa did one for the Pennsic Subtleties Contest in 2005
She later wrote:
I used one of those fountain kits you can get at craft stores like
Michaels, bent a wire to the shape I wanted, tied the fountain's hose to
it and then covered the hose with a cardboard fish shape (hot glue guns
are your friends :-), covered in cardboard scales for added
3-dimensionality, and all spay painted gold.

I had originally meant to have it dispense wine, but due to limited time
(ie I was doing this the last two nights before leaving for Pennsic) I
decided on water instead, since I was having trouble contolling the
splash-back factor and didn't want to stain the surrounding tablecloths
with a fine mist of wine. Faerisa

 From material posted previously on SCA Cooks there's also this:
For visible evidence of food in history, Prof. Rocke’s class, which 
numbered fourteen students, visited the Cleveland Museum of Art 
<http://www.clemusart.com/>. Students were shown various depictions of 
food, artifacts, and containers for food, and they discovered a 
fourteenth-century French table fountain. The fountain has a hidden 
pumping mechanism that produces a continuous fountain of wine. “It is a 
mechanically ingenious device and a work of art,” Prof. Rocke says.

The interactive feature that showed how it worked is mentioned in the 
exhibit sections but that appears to have never been part of the
website. It was just for the public attending the show.

Pat wrote:
There is a 14th century table fountain at the
Cleveland Museum of Art.
It does not use a gravity feed reservoir, but I don't know how it does 

another post--

Circumstances prevented me from seeing this exhibit in person,
but I did buy the catalogue. This fountain appears on page 87 in the 2004
volume titled Art from the Court of Burgundy.

 From the entry there--

"Originally, the fountain stood in a large catch basin. Water, pumped 
a central tube, emerged at the top through a series of nozzles (shaped 
as animals
and drolleries) in jets that forced the rotation of the wheels and rang 
the tiny bells.
The water gradually cascaded from one level to the next through gargoyle 
only to refill the catch basin for another cycle.

The suggestion that such fountains were intended to be used for 
banqueting tables
is not supported by the evidence. Inventories do not refer to these 
objects as
"table" fountains and contemporary minatures of banqueting scenes do not 
such objects. They are generally associated with rose water. It seems 
more likely
that, secondarily to their interest as objects of entertainment, they 
were intended
to serve as room scenters mounted on tripods or small side tables. " S.N.F.

There appears to be this 40 plus page article on it.
Fliegel, Stephen N. "The Cleveland Table Fountain and Gothic Automata,"
Cleveland Studies in the History of Art. 2002 v.7. pp. 6-49.

That article might be a starting point for more research. Looking up
automata as well as fountains might also be helpful. I'll see if I can find
some books too.


Stefan li Rous wrote:
> I am currently reading "Feast - A History of Grand Eating" by Roy  
> Strong.
> On page 99-100 in the medieval section he says:
> snipped Various examples of these fountains. "The  
> surviving example in the museum at Cleveland (ohio), despite its  
> missing basin and foot, gives some impression of the magnificence of  
> these pieces, whose sole purpose was to amaze."
> So, anyone near Cleveland seen this?
> Has anyone created such a fountain for a feast?snipped
> Does anyone have any ideas on how they would have done one of these  
> fountains in period, since the modern cheat of using small battery  
> driven pumps wasn't available? snipped
> Stefan
> --------

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