The back was smooth, offering no purchase, but the figures on the front provided a convenient place to conceal prongs. After building an armature to match the overall shape of the sculpture, I welded on two steel wires for support. These I bent to cradle the upper right and left figures, providing a secure hold while being minimally visible from the front. I painted the stand black, and the prongs green to match the existing patina.
When I am working on a custom project, the design process begins during the first conversation with my client. The case was no different when I was recently presented with this example of Dogon bronze work. I was asked to make a display stand for the piece, and to be as subtle as possible so that it seemed to float just above table height. After taking some notes and making a quick sketch, I brought the sculpture back to my shop for the real work.
Obviously this piece had seen some damage, so I wanted to be as sensitive as possible in supporting it. Over time, at least one figure had been worn away completely, and I didn't want to risk any further deterioration of the sculpture.
A well made museum stand enhances an artifact or sculpture without drawing attention to itself, and this example is certainly a success. I am quite happy with the final result, and so is my client. It seems fitting that the ancient art of lost wax casting should be complemented here by the modern technology of TIG welding.
The Dogon people have a centuries long tradition of fine metalwork in both bronze and iron, and it's a pleasure to use my own metalworking skills to help present it.