Historical Influences and the Williamsburg Bird Baths

By: admin | Posted on: May/05/2017

The distinctive style of American gardens and outdoor décor in the 18th century celebrated form over ornamentation. The result is an aesthetic that feels decidedly contemporary; even though it’s roots lie deep in our own history. This is the second article in our series on The Williamsburg Collection, created by Campania International. Today we’re going to dive into the historical influences of the Williamsburg Bird Baths: The Tea Table and Candlestand Bird Baths.


The 18th-century capital city of Williamsburg, Virginia was the capital of Britain’s largest and wealthiest colony in the New World. The history of the United States in the years before and during the American Revolution is visible everywhere in Williamsburg. In looking at these two birdbaths we glimpse subtle differences in the way people lived. Both birdbaths are based upon a common item in most households: a simple tea table.


The finished pieces, however, feature much different styling. This is quite simply – a tale of two bird baths.


Urban vs. Rural



Tea Table

This original Round Tea Table, made in Norfolk, Virginia between 1750-70 is the inspiration for the Tea Table Bird Bath. It’s similar to multi-purpose British tea tables, common at the time. They were large enough to write or work upon, and then their tabletops would swivel up on hinges. This makes them easy to put away when not in use, because it flattens their width. Their design also reflects the creative engineering to meet the needs of those in more cramped city homes.


The Candlestand Bird Bath is based upon this Candlestand made in rural 1830, Southampton County, Virginia. Candlestands are structurally and stylistically akin to tea tables, but differ in their smaller size. As the name suggests, their purpose is to bring light closer to a desired area. They were not meant for writing or other uses, as the tabletop was too small. A candlestand table reflects that a home may be more spread out, with less formal seating arrangements. Lightweight and portable, candlestands were ideal to move light where needed in the home, without the constraints of limited space.


Williamsburg Bird Bath

Original Tea Table and Bird Bath


Structural Style and Influences


The Round Tea Table has an elegant fluted urn shape at the base of the column. British tea tables, globe stands and bedposts also commonly have this same feature. Similar pillars also appeared in American cabinet-makers in both the north and south. The complexity of the turning between the fluted urn and column, as well as the delicate moldings at its base, show a refined style.


Conversely, the Candlestand table when appraised has a different heritage. The original piece was made of black walnut, a more common wood in a rural setting. The appraisers also noted a “conscious avoidance of urban design principles”. Most notable, is its lovely baluster curve shape, similar to traditional curved baluster staircase columns. Lastly artisans note the unusually deep cove molding at the bottom of the baluster column. These details set it apart and display a distinctly early-American, classically simple styling.


Williamsburg Bird Bath

Original Candlestand and Bird Bath


The Finished Bird Baths


Both of these items are customer favorites at Garden-Fountains.com. Both the Williamsburg Tea Table Bird Bath and the Williamsburg Candlestand Bird Bath epitomize the simple, unadorned forms beloved in colonial America.


The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, is a not-for-profit organization which maintains the historic city of Williamsburg, Virginia, today.


We hope you’ve enjoyed this installment on the Williamsburg Collection by Campania International. We’ve explained some of the details of historical items and how they specifically influence the creation of new outdoor décor. Next time, see how artisans make a historically inspired creation We’ll take you behind the scenes!

Posted by Jean Widner of the Garden-Fountains.com team.

The FAQ’s on Bird Baths

By: admin | Posted on: Apr/26/2017

Here at Garden-fountains.com we have discussed the value of adding a birdbath to your garden setting. Birdbaths are not only decorative but they are practical as well. There are lots of different styles to choose from so we pulled together the answers to some of your FAQ’s on bird baths.


Before you buy

Portwenn Fountain


What type of material should they be made of?


Birdbaths can be made of cast stone, fiberglass, ceramic or any other material that will hold water. Consider your climate and surroundings. Also consider any requirements for movability, access and safety from animals or children.


How do the birds actually use a birdbath?


Birds use a birdbath for both drinking as well as bathing and preening their feathers. Also birds sometimes just like to frolic in them. That can be one benefit of getting a fountain or ‘recycling birdbath’ as they are sometimes called. One example of that is this Portwenn Fountain shown here.


How deep should a birdbath be?


The National Audubon Society recommends an average depth of 1-3 inches deep. A 2-inch bath is suited to Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays and other larger species. Smaller songbirds prefer only about a 1-inch depth. If your bath is deeper, place small stones in it to provide some variance to the depth.


Where should I put the birdbath?


Choose a level area that is safe from other traffic around the yard. Let it be a focal point to attract attention to it. Place other plantings around it to both shelter it from unintended collisions and also let the foliage give the birds other places to rest. But also be sure you have easy access to refill it quickly and keep it clean.


After you set up


What if the birds don’t use it?


Keep an eye out for the birds you have already in your area. Watch if they are using it for drinking or bathing and how large they are. If it is deeper and you don’t see them using it, then add some stones to it. If the bath is in full sun, consider moving it to a shady area, such as under a tree. Be sure you keep fresh water in it.


How do I keep it clean?


The goal is to help you keep the birdbath beautiful for a very long time. If you clean it regularly, then there won’t be much need for scrubbing or heavy work. Do not add harsh chemicals such as bleach to the bath to kill the algae. This will also harm the birds. There are water clarifiers available in most pet stores and pet departments. However, frequent water changes and bath cleanings as a way to prevent algae growth. If your bath does become heavily soiled then use a small amount of mild detergent and bleach with a sponge or brush. Then be sure to rinse it thoroughly to get rid of all chemical residue and refill it with fresh water.


What about during the winter?


Birds need water for everyday survival, drinking, bathing, cooling off. They do these activities year round, so there are some solutions to keeping your birdbath out all year long, even in cold wintery climates. There are products like deicers that will rest in the birdbath and prevent the water from freezing and damaging it. De-icers are safe for concrete, plastic, and pottery birdbaths. You may also want to consider a solar powered birdbath; it relies on the power of the sun to keep it heated.


Bringing a birdbath into your setting is a wonderful way to bring nature into your setting, while adding a beautiful accent. It also encourages your favorite feathery friends to come back to visit time and time again!



Posted by Jean Widner of the Garden-Fountains.com Team.

The Different Textures in Outdoor Décor

By: admin | Posted on: Apr/21/2017

The most noted aspect in choosing outdoor décor elements are color and style. However the texture of an item not only reflects the style it also influences the way items are seen and felt. Texture gives colors a greater depth and has the ability to make an item reflect a certain mood.


The artisans who work with cast stone use a number of different processes when creating their outdoor décor to achieve unique textures. We’ll take a look at some of the ways they do this at Campania International, one of our most popular vendors.


In creating most all cast stone planters, they all go through a similar creation process. First, the item is sculpted out with all of its details, and then a cast is created. Once the mold is poured or filled with the cement mixture, it dries. Lastly there is a hand finishing and sanding process that smoothes out the seams and gives the cast stone creation its final finish. Now, let’s look at three of these different types of textures they create.


Textures in Outdoor Décor

Smooth Texture


This is the most basic texture that most cast stone or cement décor items come in. One example is this Williamsburg Strapwork Leaf Urn.


Once the individual cast stone urn is completed, then there is an extensive hand-finishing process. First, the finished piece is hand sanded to smooth out any seams or cracks. Next, a smooth plaster is applied to the entire outer product in multiple layers. Each item may have this process done a dozen times. This finishes the piece in a perfectly smooth texture.


This smooth texture is best used for very classical or traditional items. It allows the finest level of details to show on the outer surface and creates an elegant finish. Also note how the stain used shows off the delicate leaf pattern around this featured urn.


Textures in Outdoor Décor


Rustic Sandblast Texture


In this style of finishing texture, the artisan is looking to create a rustic, aged or even rural craftsman-style feeling. You’ll see, this pockmarked texture grabs colors and stains more deeply into the finished stone piece. How these items are created? The artisan makes the item just as above, and then literally sandblast the original sculpted item. Then the mold is created complete with the pockmarks embedded in it by the blasting process. You can see an example of this style here in the Rustic Greenwich Urn.



Chunky Rustic Texture


Textures in Outdoor DécorProbably the most innovative process that has been created to give a unique textured finish is what they call a ‘chunky rustic’ texture. These Saguaro Planters show an example of this. To get this look in the cast stone, they take the original sculpted planter and use peat moss inside the actual plaster cast! This has the effect of creating both these unusual striated patterns as well as a sort of ‘worn away’ texture to the stone.


The final effect is a highly unusual aged finish that can be applied to a rustic old-world style, or as with these Saguaro Planters a very contemporary look.


Whatever your personal style in outdoor décor, the final textures that are used add a lot to the design aesthetic. The mold making and finishing process of each of the hand-finished items from Campania International is part of what makes this vendor’s creations so special.

Posted by Jean Widner of the Garden-Fountains.com team.

Aged Garden Décor and Efflorescence

By: admin | Posted on: Apr/14/2017

Exposing cast stone or concrete items to outdoor weather and elements will always age them. This natural aging process actually enhances the look of outdoor décor items and can give them an ‘old world’ feel. This can make even a very recent purchase appear to be something your family has owned for generations.


The Natural Aging Process


EfflorescenceThe salts found in the natural materials of cast stone, combined with water, touches off a chemical reaction. This reaction is called efflorescence. The degree of efflorescence will vary depending on weather conditions.


Mother Nature often provides rainy, cold, windy weather in the Spring months. Therefore, this touches off and activates that chemical reaction. The calcium carbonate (salt) contained in the raw materials used to make case stone will be drawn to the surface if the item. As a result, you’ll see a chalky white residue on the surface of the piece.


This residue will gradually disappear. Because as more of the same weather conditions occur, this will naturally complete the efflorescence cycle. Once this process has occurred on a cast stone item, it won’t reappear again.


Other Water Processes


Water agingIron oxidization is another natural occurrence that can appear on water containing items such as fountains and birdbaths. Because bowls and basins continuously hold water they are continually wet. The raw materials used as ingredients for cast stone birdbaths contain minimal levels of iron. When iron reacts with water, a powdery pink or orange residue can appear on your birdbath.


Remember, each piece of cast stone garden décor will age differently. Mother Nature will ultimately determine the appearance each piece will acquire as it ages. If you wish you can minimize these processes with some light scrubbing and cleaning with a soft cloth or brush.


Finally, if you ever have any questions about the performance or aging of one of our products, please feel free to contact us a customercare@garden-fountains.com and our staff will be happy to assist!


Posted by Jean Widner of the Garden-Fountains.com team.

Modern Classics: The Williamsburg Collection from Campania, Part 1

By: admin | Posted on: Mar/23/2017

History, architecture and a blend of many cultures influences American outdoor décor. The creative artistry in cast stone planters, statuary and fountains varies widely. Those who have training in these classic sculpting skills are always looking for fresh ideas and historical influences. In a series of posts, we will share how Campania International created the Williamsburg Collection of garden accessories, using the vast design resources of an important museum of American history and culture.


The distinctive style of American gardens in the 18th century celebrated form over ornamentation. The result is an aesthetic that feels decidedly contemporary, even though it’s roots lie deep in our own history.


This is the first in a multi-part series exploring American outdoor décor and the Williamsburg Collection created by Campania International.



Historical Williamsburg


The 18th-century capital city of Williamsburg, Virginia is a town where the past comes alive. The history of the United States in the years before and during the American Revolution is visible everywhere in Williamsburg. Called the Revolutionary City, in its prime it was the capital of Britain’s largest and wealthiest colony in the New World. Williamsburg hosted patriots of the day, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and was a center of thought and culture.


Colonial WilliamsburgThe city was designed with formal streets thoughtfully laid out to accommodate its public halls, residential homes and trade areas. Another key point of the city’s layout was the importance of its gardens. What you come to understand is that gardening was more than a hobby – it was an art form. The town’s renowned gardens, both casual or formal in style, still bloom around the historical buildings of Colonial Williamsburg.


The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, maintains the historic city today. Franklin D. Roosevelt called its main avenue “the most beautiful mile in American history”. Not surprisingly, for decades homeowners have embraced this uniquely American look, replicating its buildings throughout the country.


American outdoor décor


Colonial Williamsburg contains a vast archive of 70,000 pieces of American folk art and English and American Antiques from the 18th and 19th centuries. The Foundation has faithfully preserved or recreated the gardens, structures and artifacts seen throughout the area. When the artists of Campania International started looking for ideas for garden décor, they quickly found inspiration everywhere.


For example, this English, white salt-glazed stoneware container, or cachepot, is reminiscent of those often seen in an 18th century greenhouse. The stately Williamsburg Orangery Urn Planter is created by removing the lion heads to simplify the design. The design has become a best-seller and customer favorite.



Another popular and inspired planter is the Tayloe House Urn. In this design, the architectural detailing of the Williamsburg Tayloe House Urn captures the uptown sophistication of the attractive town house owned by Williamsburg resident Colonel John Tayloe, one of the wealthiest men in colonial Virginia.



More to come…


Stay tuned, as we’ll be sharing more information and history that inspired these Williamsburg creations in the coming weeks and months. The process of how an artist interprets historical items and then sculpts to create something completely new is exciting!


Look for more information on these Williamsburg Collection benches, fountains statues and so much more. We’ve got some fascinating historical information for you. We even have a sneak peek at some new and upcoming items later this year!


Posted by Jean Widner of the Garden-Fountains.com team.


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