Bonsai display tables are used to highlight the importance of the tree.
There is an old saying in bonsai:
If someone looks at your tree in an exhibit and first says “What a beautiful pot!”
It's either in the wrong container or it's not a very good bonsai.
Much like the pot, a stand should complement both your bonsai and the container -- not draw attention to itself.
Although this stand is large and detailed, the strength of the bonsai tree is still the first thing you see.
Bonsai display “tables” come in many shapes, sizes and styles and usually lift the tree up for better viewing.
Saburo Kato, Japan 2005
Photo courtesy Morten Albek
Some tables are formal and very traditional, others are more modern and often unique.
Today it is not unusual to see flat stones and finely finished boards or even metal used for stands.
As in any art form, there are controversies over what is right and wrong.
Dark woods such as rosewood and walnut are traditional and still some of the most desirable stands.
These guidelines are very basic, however, they will get you started:
As an example, just as there are cascade pots, there are cascade tables.
Like the containers, the stands are often tall to allow the “cascading” branch a place to fall.
Bunjin style bonsai are usually placed on round stands.
Shohin bonsai (very small) are frequently displayed in groups.
Thin slabs of burl and other fine woods can be appropriate for a forest or windswept bonsai.
Accent and companion plants also deserve to be highlighted.
In Japan dark colored lacquer disks have been used for many years for this purpose. Old ones are considered very collectible (and pricey.)
Today, there are artists creating glazed and fired ceramic circles, as well as thin pieces of wood with glossy paint and/or wax that work beautifully.
If you are involved in planning a formal exhibit, bonsai artist Attila Soos, in California, wrote an illustrated article on “The Role of the Stand” that may be especially helpful.
When members do not have traditional bonsai display tables, sometimes something as simple as a bamboo placemat has a better appearance than a bonsai sitting directly on a bench or table (and often very effective!)
Many artists have several stands and take more than one to the exhibit. It is a good idea to practice at home, however, what looks good at home, doesn’t always work in the show.
It is a common practice in many clubs to share bonsai display tables. It is wise to have your name or mark on the bottom for identification.
When you bring a bonsai indoors, a bonsai display table gives it the importance it deserves.
If you grow bonsai indoors, use stands for special occasions only.
(Always remember bonsai pots have holes in them, and water will drip through! Water before you display.)
Bonsai display tables and slabs are also perfect for displaying valued figurines, stones and even groups of items – such as small bonsai pots.
Have you seen the full page on Bonsai Display ?
There are also bonsai display tables shown on Miniature Bonsai page
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