Installation and Care for your Precious Sculptures
Here are some helpful hints:
Consider forms and feelings first!
Figures, animals, steles, and natural scholar rocks (like TaiHu or Lingbi rocks) – they all tell a special story and visually convey different feelings and ambience. Buddha or or Bodhisattva sculptures traditionally convey a feeling of peace, tranquility, sacredness- a sweetness for mind, body and spirit; foo dogs stand strong and mighty- they effuse powerful protective glances; whereas more architectural oriented pieces like old steles, fragments, or door stones evoke an ancientness- a marvel and intellectual testament to a proud carver’s skill and creative imagination. Large Chinese Scholar rocks such as TaiHu and Lingbi stones- for the most part naturally formed, come in a wonderful array of form and natural earth tone colors: white, yellow, gray, black, and red. They evoke a heavenly yet mystical and organic feeling and were the preferred exterior and interior decor and collectibles of the ancient emperors of Song, Ming, and Qing Dynasties.
Choose installation spots with care.
Carefully consider placement first… because they are sometimes unsually heavy. Think about sun and shade locations, they can provide different but remarkably alternative glimpses of your prized artwork. Buddhas or Bodhsiattvas can be placed almost anywhere for public or private contemplation and admiration- we have them placed in all kinds of interior home and exterior garden settings. They look especially attractive next to water features such as fish ponds, waterfalls, or pools. Foo dogs go nicely flanking exterior entry steps, interior doorways, or fireplaces. Architectural pieces display awesome decor in special garden niches….kind of like ancient, godly space obelisks pointing to the sky; and stone Buddhist rock fragments accent garden plots in numerous eye appealing ways. One of our latest installations, a giant Buddha head, looks neat radiating down upon our patio from a nearby hillside….
Colors may be subtle or spectacular.
Chinese stone carvings come in a variety of stone types: pure white marble, aged and ancient gray limestone, both dark and light in color, and occasionally as found in Scholar rocks, red, white, black or yellow. White marble “pops” out against greenery while limestone subtly lingers near bushes and trees. In more arid climates, yellow, white or reds blend more with desert environs.
Keep surprise and discovery …a “garden within a garden” in mind!
Chinese gardens in particular are generally segmented into several smaller gardens…filled with secret niches and wonderful rock displays. Think about your garden as a “garden within a garden” the concept of creating special little hiding places….nooks and crannies that you can accent with a sculptural surprise.
Eclectic or Simple…both are OK.
Who says you can’t display a garden gnome next to Kuan Yin? Or a Victorian urn with a Chinese Lingbi rock ? Conversely, modest “simple” installations can also be quite satisfying. Japanese Zen gardens can be very seductive and inviting by singular placements of one or two carefully placed stone lanterns and a special scholar rock or two. Experiment….there is really no right or wrong way!
Mix and match with special plantings.
Use plants to accent sculptures and provide “soft” screens and special niche areas. Avoid straight paths and instead install a gently sweeping path to a hidden, secret-like installation. Create mini rock “island beds” using the “garden within a garden” concept and accent them with one of your favorite works of art. One of our most pleasing combinations was a favorite seated Bodhisvattva that we installed in front of a young Magnolia tree next to our patio. We also enjoy gazing up at our giant Buddha head…partially concealed by tall grasses and cloaked by a nearby crabapple. Simple floral plantings can enhance sculptures…think about placing a flower bed in front of a duo or trio of favorite works of art…it’s dynamic. Utilize old stone planters….they are flexible, moveable displays and the contents can be changed seasonally to provide a variety of color and texture.
Take good care of your investment!
Helpful things to remember that will help ensure your long term enjoyment and financial investment:
- Install your heavier sculptures on a concrete or thick (4″-12″) stone slab. This avoids settling or toppling particularly if your soil is clay-like or porous.
- Stone figures in marble or limestone are durable even during the snowy winter months of New England. But to be safe, it’s good to think about covering your sculptures during local periods of rain and snow and possible times when freezing occurs. Use a heavy plastic wrap and burlap to cover them. This helps to prevent water from seeping into any cracks and possibly freezing and then cracking your sculpture.
- Sometimes we find stone sculptures with remnants of old paint visible or they possess an unusually pleasing old patinated surface. If you like this look, it is a good idea to place these special sculptures inside…or if outside, in a sheltered area which would avoid exterior exposure and conditions that might strip away these features over time.