We're all familiar with hanging pictures, right? Wall, nail, picture. Or maybe shelf, easel, picture. But sculpture asks us to think about art display differently. We can see sculpture from every angle, and it's easy to move from place to place. This gives us options and flexibility, but also some challenges.
Here are 5 eye-catching art display ideas for your small tabletop sculpture, no nails required.
1. Top a stack of books
You may have noticed that I use books a lot when I'm photographing my sculpture. That's partially because I'm kind of in love with books - a used book store is nirvana for me. But I also appreciate how nicely a little sculpture dresses up a stack of paperbacks, or complements a few old books with beautiful bindings. Books display beautifully on their own, and a small piece of artwork gives a bit of extra style.
I find this technique works best when the books aren't too thick or large, so they don't overwhelm your sculpture. But I've effectively used books up to 8 or 10 inches long, and a couple of inches thick, which gives you lots of options.
2. Put it under glass
Cloches have been around for ages, but I've been noticing them more and more in design catalogs and shops lately. While they're great for candles or plants, I like using them in a less expected way, with a sculpture under the glass. The effect can be both surprising and gratifying, and brings attention to your little artwork in a very pleasing way.
Besides, you don't ever have to worry about dusting your sculpture this way, either. And for those with tiny, curious hands or long, wagging tails to contend with, a cloche adds some protection. For the win!
3. Use a picture ledge
I admit, this one does require some holes in your wall. If you happen to have a small shelf or picture ledge hanging somewhere, your sculpture will fit perfectly alongside your framed photos. I've shown a tiny love token here for scale, but all my sculpture fits beautifully on this very same shelf. If you happen to browse the shop, you'll see these shelves turn up again and again for just that reason. You can see that the picture ledge works for the tiny love tokens, above, but also for this abstract motherhood sculpture, and even three of my hug sculptures of different sizes.
When using a picture ledge to display your sculpture, you might find the best effect by using objects in a similar height. Too tall, and they might overwhelm your sculpture. Too small, and the small object might look puny. Also vary your heights, shapes, and textures. Round vases, angular frames, plants, crystal bowls, a collection of tiny pine cones - anything goes.
This technique is easy to play with to find what you like best. I treat one of my shelves like a seasonal shrine, of sorts, with a small bunch of flowers, leaves, or a cactus along with little keepsakes that I vary on a whim.
4. Display in 3's
While you could certainly display three sculptures together (something I highly encourage, of course), I'm talking about three different objects here. I find each sculpture can be set off nicely by using it as one of three complementary elements:
- Sculpture of your choice
- Something taller, with a similar shape. Here, I chose a round vase that echoes the curves of the sculpture
- Something nearly the same size, but a different shape. I used a stack of books here (books again!), because the angularity of the books breaks up all that sinuous curving. But I kept them the same scale as the sculpture so it all feels balanced.
You could play with objects of different shapes, textures, colors, and sizes, until you find a combination you like. What's really wonderful about this approach is that you can constantly change the display as it suits you, much like the picture ledge idea.
Use seasonal objects, or mementos, or photos, or whatever strikes your fancy. Just keep everything balanced with a sculpture, something similar/big, and something different/same size.
5. Add a (new!) base
I've recently introduced a new option in my shop! Now you can purchase a cast-stone sculpture base to, ah, elevate your artwork and give you more display options. You see that I went crazy and put the display base on top of books, on that self-same picture ledge, but you can just as easily use the sculpture on its display base pretty much anywhere. I think this would look especially nice on a nightstand or dresser, or on a mantle at eye level.
I appreciate how the display bases ground the little sculptures and give them more visual presence. And since they're hand cast (by me!) of the same material as your sculpture, their texture, density, and weight are the same delicious quality. The velvety, matte, black finish complements both my original sculpture and the minimalist designs, and even works with the tiny love tokens.
You can see all the new bases in my shop, as options for the sculpture. I've also collected them all here for convenience.