It is great to see that the stands used in Bonsai shows are of a good quality and design, as this adds to the overall bonsai display – it is an important feature of the overall image.
The bonsai stand or table plays an important but subtle part in the feeling of the presentation, but be careful that the stand does not dominate the presentation which is why dark stands are more often common as they are more subtle in colour and tone.
The stand or table should also look like it is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the bonsai tree but not be too heavy in its image and the pot should fit within the confines of the top of the table and not hang over the edge. Therefore it is important to ensure that the stand is the correct size to display your bonsai tree on as this can affect the overall display if the stand is either too small or too large.
Bonsai tables should be presented in a clean manner and can be oiled or waxed and free from dust and scratches when being used on a display.
There are certain factors to consider when selecting your bonsai stand for your show tree including the following:-
- Size of the stand (width and length)
- Height of the stand
- Wood type
There are so many wood types to choose from it is awesome, the colours, textures and patterns are amazing and can aid with enhancing the bonsai stand due to the selection of wood it is made from. Here are a few examples of wood just to show the range of colours and patterns but you should really get to feel the wood to get a good idea of texture and not all are ideal for making into bonsai stands due to their properties.
Here are a few examples of wood burr stands which sit flat the the table and have a natural edge and are solid wood and typical tree species used for burrs are Oak, Elm, Walnut and Chestnut.
Burrs are usually used in decorative furniture, veneering, cabinet making and for wood turning and they also make very beautiful bonsai stands of all sizes. A burl or burr as defined as
a tree growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed manner. It is commonly found in the form of a rounded outgrowth on a tree trunk or branch that is filled with small knots from dormant buds
A very intricate stand is one known as a root stand and the carving and craftsmanship of these types of stands is amazing. They can be designed to be short of tall and usually are made using a dark wood which is very effective for displaying Mame and Shohin trees.
These are less common but depending on the height of the base table it is often useful to have a tall stand in order to display your tree to the advantage of the viewer on a taller stand to bring it to the correct viewing height. If the tree is elevated this allows the viewer to see the tree at the correct height to ensure they see the image and detail of the tree.
These are usually used as an accompanying low stand element for accents when displaying a larger tree on a bonsai stand which is the main focus. They are formed from burrs as well usually and are just very thinly sliced discs of wood that are highly polished and often lacquered or waxed and can be glazed even. They come in a range of qualities and can be quite expensive to buy and be aware to protect them during storage as they can break and scratch quite easily.
Light coloured stands
There are many sources to buy stands but it can be quite expensive so it is also very common to see home made stands which can be made out of old pieces of furniture. When making your own stands though think about the wood colour as it may be possible to change the colour of the wood using wood staining techniques to improve the balance of the stand with the pot and tree that you are displaying. Light stands can work well but sometimes can be a bit glaring especially if they are very large stands and draw the viewers eye away from the bonsai tree that is being displayed.
Dark coloured stands
If you are using a dark coloured stand make sure that this works well with the bonsai pot as well as the bonsai tree to ensure that there is still some distinction between the pot and stand so they do not fully merge into one image. Also if you have stained the wood to make the stand darker ensure that this is an even finish in colour and texture as sometimes stained stands can detract if they care not finished well and the lighter wood shows through.
Red coloured stands
Stands made from a more red coloured wood are quite common but again ensure that the stand is the correct colour, size and height for the display and also in balance with the bonsai pot and tree as this is a dominant colour and can draw the eye to the stand and not the display as a whole presentation. These can also be fairly glossy which if the trees are being photographed can affect the final image.
Design of stands
There are so many shapes, designs and patterns to choose from and if you have a very clear idea of the style of stand you want you can always commission a stand or table to be built for your tree to the exact dimensions and design you require. Some tables have intricate carving, others are quite plain and discrete and some give the impression of being built very gracefully but are structurally able to support the weight of a larger bonsai tree scaling down the dominance of the tree in some cases. There is also the discussion over whether the stand or table is designed along masculine or feminine lines as this should again match in which the image of the bonsai tree.
Here are some examples of different designs from more simplistic designs through to highly ornate designs.
Shohin and Mame display stands
If you are displaying Shohin and Mame you can use individual tall stands or root stands but often the display stand is used as a means to set up a multiple tree display. There are a range of types of these display stands including circular ones to tiered ones and this is hard as you have to ensure that the trees are all complementary towards each other, plus they go in the correct direction for the display and are all of a good condition and work well as a collective set of species. These displays usually have an odd number of elements but this can change subject to how all the elements work together but more common are three, five and seven element displays.
A great book for more information on this is called ‘Bonsai Kusamono Suiseki – A practical Guide for organising displays with plants and stones’ by Willi Benz.
Sources of Bonsai Stands and Tables
- Bespoke Bonsai Stands (John Brocklehurst)
- Doug Mudd Bonsai Tables
- Dai-ichi Bonsai Japanese Bonsai Display Tables and Bonsai Stands
- Malcolm Driffield of MD Creations in Wood (07823 440003)
- Gérald Boutel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Martin Bonvie of MB Bonsai Tables
- Cherry Blossom Bonsai web shop
- British Bonsai web shop
- David J Sampson
- Herons Bonsai