Traditionally, the dais for a suiseki was a custom-carved wooden base which would only fit one particular stone.  Few of us have the talent, resources or time to make a wooden base for our best viewing stones.  Luckily, there is an alternative.

Before You Begin
       Study your stone carefully and decide what shape of display stand you want it to have.  The longest dimension of the stone isn’t always its best horizontal side.  Study pictures of suiseki and other viewing stones, such as found in the following books to have plenty of stand choices and thicknesses in mind:


       Benz, Willi   Suiseki, Kunstwerke der Natur Prasentiert von Menschen ( Suiseki, Artwork of Nature Presented for Mankind) ; München: BLV Publishers Ltd.; 1995.  200 pp.
       Covello, Vincent T. and Yuji Yoshimura   The Japanese Art of Stone Appreciation, Suiseki and Its Use with Bonsai ; Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle; 1996, 1984. 166 pp.
       Hu, Kemin  The Spirit of Gongshi: Chinese Scholar Rocks ; Newton, MA: L.H. Inc.; 1998. 128 pp. 
       Little, Stephen   Spirit Stones of China: The Ian and Susan Wilson Collection of Chinese Stones, Paintings, and Related Scholars’ Objects ; Chicago, IL: The Art Institute of Chicago and University of California Press; 1999.  112 pp. 
       Mowry, Robert  Worlds Within Worlds: The Richard Rosenblum Collection of Chinese Scholars’ Rocks ; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University; 1997. 317 pp. 
       Notter, Pius   Die Suiseki-Kollektion von Pius Notter ; Lenzburg: Kromer Verlag; 1995.
       Rivera, Felix   Suiseki: The Japanese Art of Miniature Landscape Stones ; Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press; 1997.  192 pp.
       Tucker, Melba   Suiseki & Viewing Stones, An American Perspective ; Flagstaff, AZ: Horizons West; 1996.  48 pp.


Materials Needed:
The stone for which you want to make the display stand.
1/2″+ thick piece of styrofoam that is perhaps 1/2″ wider around than your stone.
A piece of wax paper at least as large as the styrofoam.
Marker pen with a long, thin point or a stick pin.
Exact-O® knife.
Mineral oil, a very small amount.
A piece of packing tape large enough to serve as a handle if your stone is that large.
Dust mask and shop glasses.
Dremel®-type drill.
Sandpaper: coarse, medium, and fine.
Spot putty.
Ace Premium Flat Black Enamel paint.
Brown stain.
How To Do It:
       Set your stone upright on the styrofoam.  Mark the stone’s outline on the foam using a marker pen or a pin.  The pen should be held straight up all the way around for an even mold.
Use an Exact-O® knife to cut the pattern out.  The styrofoam is now a mold.  Put the wax paper underneath this mold.
Put mineral oil all over the stone and your hands to prevent the Bondo® from sticking to them.  (For large stones, also make a lifting handle with strong-enough tape.  Where you will attach the tape, however, you cannot have any oil if you want the tape to stick.)  Bondo® is difficult to remove from stone if it gets on it.  It is possible to clean off with acetone.
Mix Bondo® according to the label instructions.  3 Tablespoons Filler to 1/4 teaspoon hardener seems to work well.  (It is suggested you practice a little with the consistency before you work on a good stone.)  Mix and pour into the hole of the mold.
You have about 30 seconds now to set the stone in.  Use light pressure to level it to the angle of how you want it to be seated.  Do not let the stone go all the way to the bottom of the mold.  You have to hold it.
Leave the stone in place for 3 minutes.
Carefully lift the stone directly upward.
Let the Bondo® set for 10 minutes.
Use a knife when the Bondo® is still soft to cut off any ridges from the edges of the dais.
Use a marker pen with a long, thin point.  Make one outline on the Bondo® 1/4″ away from where the edge of the rock will be.  Make a second outline 1/4″ further out.
Use a mask and shop glasses.  Use a Dremel®-type drill to cut the dais in towards the outer line.  Then use the drill to cut a lip off between the inner line and the outer edge.
If necessary, use a bandsaw to slice a thick base thinner.  If the stone has an underside projection, be sure you don’t cut through the space where the projection rests.
Mark the foot positions on the underside of the dais and then carve out.
Start with a coarser sandpaper (120 or 100) to polish.
Use spot putty to fill up any air bubbles.
The last sanding is done with 000 grade paper and can take a long time.  (Have patience — you are almost done.)
Spray with Ace Premium Flat Black Enamel paint.  Or, for a wood-like finish, swirl with sandpaper to give the appearance of wood grain and then stain brown.
Set your stone on the dry dais and enjoy the display.



These notes are from a workshop conducted May 16, 2000 at the Phoenix Bonsai Society by club member Elsie Andrade, who learned the method from Larry Ragle.  Elsie reviewed these notes with additional comments on May 16, 2003 [sic] in personal e-mail to RJB.   Possibly in the future we will be able to add step-by-step pictures of the process.

See also: California Aiseki Kai’s Vol. 26, Issue 7, July 2008 newsletter, pg. 3 on Daiza Making,

See also this September 2013 article in Golden Statements about The Making of a Daiza.