The Branch Fountain

pin cushion 003Winter at the Branch Studio is a gritty affair. The building is too large and drafty to heat to any decent level.  Everyone over there lives in their insulated carhardts, boots and leather gloves-amongst a whole host of other gear.  The wind makes the doors rattle like crazy.  Enter if you dare.  There is nothing romantic about manufacturing, but there is a special beauty in the making that goes on over there. A group of men who take extraordinary care in their fabrication. Beyond the din, dirt and sparks of a fleet of welders in use, there is a collective heart beating strong.  These guys weld cold rolled and pickled steel.  It is not an occupation for the faint of heart.  Steel bends for no man.  That said, my group at Branch works hard to make steel friendly to the landscape.

February 11, 2014 (4) Containers, fountains and garden ornament made at Branch comes straight out of the manufacturing heritage every bred in Detroit fabricator is heir to.  This means garden ornament designed and fabricated to last.  Boxes and fountains that can withstand anything nature decides to dish out. Everything at Branch is hand made, and rock solid.  The finish we have developed is a patina much like lead.  The stainless steel Branch tags that are attached to everything we make identifies our work, and attests to its longevity.  The Branch Studio is the youngest of my companies-just 11 years old this year.  The work however speaks to a maturity of which I am proud.

Branch fountain 3The winter is the time we make all of our stock boxes, fountains and pergolas, in anticipation of the spring season. But we also take time to design and fabricate new things.  I have been after Buck to fabricate a fountain of a design very different than our usual classically based garden ornament for at least 2 years.  He was slow to cotton to the idea, but in January I could talk of nothing else.  He finally heard me.  A Branch fountain got off the ground.

fountain feetThis fountain is comprised of almost a mile of steel rods, and weighs 3500 pounds.  On the outside, the fountain measures 5′ wide by 9′ long.  The bottom of the fountain was built as a torsion box, the weight was so great.  Buck held more than a few confabs with his group regarding visual density and texture.  The design called for a certain density, that would be satisfied differently, depending on the diameter of the rods. The texture needed to be congested, but loose.  A good friend remarked upon seeing the finished fountain that she was intrigued that a material so hard and heavy could be made to look so soft.

February 24, 2014 (12)Once the shell of this fountain was built, my conversation centered on the magic that that can be created by the human hand. Every hand is distinctive, like a signature.  I was after a group signature.  A show of hands.  Everyone welding on this project changed positions every hour.  No matter what view you take, the look is about community of hands-homogeneous.

February 24, 2014 (15)The texture is created from 8 sizes of steel rods, from 3/16 inch, up to 3/4 inch.  The length, size, and placement of each individual rod was a decision that had to be made, hour after hour, and week after week.   This was their first outing without a fistful of CAD drawings and clear specifications. We were building a fountain yes, but we decided to broach the topic of sculpture.

galvanized fountain 11Stepping outside any routine is about taking chances.  Taking a chance can be more than one bargained for.  But a result that is more than one bargains for is well worth the effort.  My welding group at Branch stepped right up to the challenge posed by this design, and dove in.  Their collective signature is all over this fountain.

DSC_8780The signature of every artisan at Branch is represented in this fountain.  I can read the moves, and I can see the names.

Branch fountain aThe act of creating is a thrill like no other.  A painting.  A quilt.  A symphony.  A poem.  A dress.  An event.  A car.  A necklace. A company.   A garden.  Branch of course is  interested to be a sculptural part of the landscape.

Branch fountain cThe Branch fountain is a sculpture around which a garden could be forged.

Branch fountain bThis is the news from the Branch Studio.





  1. Deborah- it’s simply wonderful! And thanks to your words, I can visualize the creation of it. Amazing.


  2. Very interesting and innovative. Congrats on getting the job done.

  3. Totally amazing!

  4. Sue Trent says


  5. SHERRY BROWN says


  6. I love this fountain. The cistern fountain I bought for a client is so special…I would have had it myself if I had room. The one here reminds me of a nest!

  7. Wow!

  8. Priscilla says


  9. Not merely a fountain but a work of art. Practical and beautiful, not precious nor presumptive. Detroit’s genius with a modern twist.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Judith, thanks for your letter. We do not mean to be precious or presumptive. We have an idea we hope will catch on. Thanks, Deborah

  10. It’s stunning!

  11. This is absolutely stunning. And shows yet again that art and industry are still happening in Detroit in a contemporary way that demands respect and appreciation. Applause for all your team from an artist/gardener who grew up in another steel city.

  12. James Willney says

    Nice concept/design on garden fountain sculpture!!!

  13. That fountain is stunning. STUNNING. I love the scale on which you and the team work. So much of garden ornament is not made to the scale of nature.

  14. Absolutely fabulous!

  15. This fountain took my breath away–it is genius!!!

  16. You do such a lovely job of holding up the work of the artists in your studio for your readers to admire.
    I’m looking forward to seeing where this fountain will be installed. It’s so unique. How I wish we had a Branch Studio in our town.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Terry, every person who works for my constellation of companies is an artist in their own regard, yes. I treasure each and every individual contribution. My group is a consortium of very talented people committed to an expression that reflects the big picture we hope to express. You would be amazed-so many creative people in the same room whose main idea is to express as a community. My group is awesome. Thanks, Deborah

  17. deborah, all of you should receive a round of applause. what a masterpiece!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Debra, the winter gives Branch a chance to move beyond its stock product line, and create. This was a good winter for Branch. thanks, Deborah

  18. Oh my! This unique sculpted fountain takes my breath away…I enjoyed seeing the process by
    which it was forged…seeing the final step…the addition of water, completed the ta da…a tranquil
    creation with movement…lovely!

  19. It is a work of art! The city should have it comissioned as a monument of detroits industrial heritage. All the hours, the skill and the people involved in building lasting things. I think the water thing could have been made with a meaning as well, a change in material or touch. A shiny glass box that overflows? Maybe made a birds nest of glass rods? I think it is very modern, now when there are so many things made with sticks it is fascinating to see metal looking like sticks. Yes, a glass birds nest with white marble eggs inside. For easter!

  20. Lynn Fiorentino says

    I’ve never seen anything like it. Simply beautiful! Absolutely love the concept and admire the team work it took to create!!! Lynn

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Lynn, the crew at Branch is an extraordinary group. They scooped up the idea of this fountain, and made it happen. I owe everything to them. Thanks, Deborah

  21. I am breathless! So unique … So innovative …. Now for the big question … What would that fountain cost? Loved this post …. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Sharon, the fountain price is a lot. 36,500.00, plus shipping. Thanks for your letter, Deborah

  22. WOW!!!! The possible representation of the new resurgence in Detroit is spot on! (And, I am from Minneapolis! ) Thank you, as always for sharing!
    Terry R.

  23. This is exactly true, genius art. Sublime. I’m speechless. Your talent is unstoppable. I’m certain your pieces will become more priceless with time. (If only my pocketbook could afford now!)

    (You also might need a good patent attorney, maybe you should copyright your images or something… I don’t know exactly how it works, but I see people who try to imitate you (largely unsuccessfully). Your genius is worth protecting.)

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Sharon, your letter wrung some tears out of me. I cannot thank you enough for your letter. This fountain was a long time coming, and I am so pleased with the result. Any gardener who has a mind to use what I have done to endow their garden-I am all for this. As for those making copies or imitating-this would not be my choice of a life. I hope to the end of my days to be free thinking as I push the pedal to the floor. regards, Deborah

  24. Thts a fabulous piece of work.
    Once again, you need to consider opening a place in the NYC metro area. Fairfield, Ct/Westchester, NY. People would eat you up.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear JD, so good to hear from you. I cannot open a place in NYC – I have three companies that occupy every square inch of my life. But should I ever design anything that another would eat up, I would feel more than satisfied. I would only hope that some things that I do tastes really good. Thanks, Deborah

  25. Cara Kazanowski says

    So creative, so well-conceived & constructed. This organic sculpture reminds me of the swans’ nests in the bays of the lake I live on.

  26. [Sigh.]
    There is nothing to say.
    And you know how I like to say stuff.

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