Sunday, September 27, 2009

2 Friends + 2 trees = Good Times

This was a planned project; My best friend Aaron and I planned to work on 2 trees one evening, and have a ‘sculpting’ night with trees instead of just making bonsai pots.   I picked up 2 Dwarf Japanese Juniper plants, (or Juniperus Procumbens ‘nana’ for those who also desire species knowledge.) from one of my more favorite nurseries to haunt.   

We each got a tree – mine was more directional and ‘whispy’, it would need a lot of removal and vision to make use of some of the branches it came with.  Aarons on the other hand looked really bushy; but underneath it held a few firm, good branches to work off of to build pads.

While we did not discuss this beforehand – in hindsight I can see immediately that we each picked the same style, but different ‘method’ of presentation.  We both created an ‘Informal’ tree – that is, a tree that goes up, but has bends in it’s main trunk, and is not straight from ground to apex.   However, I went with a ‘Far’ view of the tree, while Aaron created a ‘near’ view of his tree.   I believe that we internally arrived at these decisions based on the material, and also the ‘vision’ we each inferred from our little trees.  This I found interesting in itself – as this was Aaron’s first real ‘tree sculpting’ (and first time I ever guided anyone through the process), yet we both came out with some interesting creations.

Take a look!

Aaron’s 1st Bonsai sculpting – Informal Bonsai ‘Near’ view

This is what he started with, after cleaning all the dead material off and getting it 'cleaned’ and ready for action.

Rotated it slightly to find it’s front, and this is after branch removal, wiring, and some pad work.

All cleaned up, final trims and pinches done.

A view from higher up, you can see the pads already nicely formed – I think Aaron’s done a great job on his first tree sculpting.

JayVee’s Informal Juniper #4 – ‘Far’ View

Here’s what I started with; alot of motion in the main trunk, with many branches to work on (and remove – too ‘sticky’)

I found it’s front, and moved many branches around.  Looking to form a broad crown, from left to right with the apex in the current ‘center’ of the tree.  Lots of shari to create on this one!

Shari worked in, nothing too eye boggling for now.  I have a good vision for this little tree, it’s going to have a ‘Far’ view – that is, seen better from a few feet away and thought of as seen from a ‘distance’ than right up under it’s branches.  In time, it will look good from anywhere..  :)

View from the left rear angle; Here you can see the trunk motion a bit better; very angled with ‘masculine’ features in this already masculine species.  I’ll be making a rectangle pot with strong features to put this little Juniper into next spring!

It was a great evening; hanging out with my best friend since childhood, working on trees and teaching the little knowledge I’m ‘sure’ of so far into my Bonsai experience.  Good times..   :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pots on Parade

It’s that time again! We’re slowly building a collection of handmade pots to fire up! Here are a few pictures; Above are a few larger of the ‘round’ pot designs we’ve come up with, also my attempt at a handmade ‘Oval’ without doing it with slabs. (Wish I had now!) Also a ‘turtle’ pot from Aaron – some nice etching on the sides (we’ll show that off once it’s glazed and finished)

Aaron designed a really beautiful pot a week or so ago – a shallow round with a slight ‘drum’ curve to the lip. What’s really incredible is that he fashioned all 3 legs as separate ‘tree’ legs with branches, then attached them to the pot and molded them in. It dried upside down and we’re not wanting it to rest on the legs until it’s fired initially. (They are stable – but can’t be too safe with clay)

Here’s my attempt at a small Cascade style pot – I molded it from a paintbrush holder/vase my wife has. I lost some of the form in the middle but was able to rough out an interesting lip. I’m thinking this will be a ‘Shohin’ Cascade pot, but we’ll see how big a tree I can get in there! :)

Fresh pots – still wet from making last night. Here I have a decent ‘copy’ of Aaron’s infamous ‘round’ pot that I so love.. Also my first attempt at a somewhat deep ‘drum’ pot. I have alot to learn about making a drum pot I can see..

Aaron decided he wanted to make a very big pot – with strong masculine features. He decided on a rectangle, and then took it a step further. He’s stuck clay ‘bricks’ on the side to give the impression of an old brick wall where the bricks have fallen away revealing the mortared surface underneath. Looks really great, and it’s not even dry yet. Once it gets more solid it’ll be flipped and legs attached.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Elk - Parson’s Juniper; Informal Juniper #3

Informal Style Parson’s Juniper

Sometimes, the ‘bug’ to sculpt a tree can backfire; if you’re always looking for the ‘perfect’ tree while you’re hunting for material. A quick stroll through typical nurseries generally results in the ‘worst’ looking plants being the ‘best’ material for bonsai (nursery plants are usually clipped and grown in forms for landscaping – not developing miniature trees). Often the finds in the half-off areas, are the ‘bulky stumpy’ plants that generally aren’t great to start with for landscaping. For instance, this Parson’s Juniper! What the heck did I see in this pot when I decided to buy it? Well, I certainly didn’t see the ‘perfect’ tree – what I actually saw was more spirit and energy than a vision of what it might become. After 20 minutes and half an acre walked, I returned to pick up this $5.98 ‘landscape’ material from the ‘toss’ zone in the corner of the nursery.

I did see a tree in there; a different kind of tree for me – a chance to try a few new techniques. Here I’ve removed a great deal of foliage to expose the very strong trunk, which has very strong motion (I was torn between taking it towards a cascade in 2-3 years – or a unique form right away). I removed many weak branches and start to eye up how the tree will shape. I drilled slightly into the branch cuts forward facing in the picture to the right; as the wounds heal, this will give it a ‘circular’ heal that is slightly hollowed which will give the effect of an aged appearance to the trunk as it heals.

So, you can see the effects of wiring, and a great reduction in the existing growth; Where is the tree you’re thinking? As I said this was a unique work for me, I never thought I’d give a tree a name, but this one is going to be called ‘Elk’. Many strong branches that I redirected to spread out the future pad zones I saw in the image of this tree. There are not many branches that are not wired; I wanted to give ‘Elk’ the instant power and presence I felt as I worked on it. Very healthy tree, for such large branches they were easier to move than the Blauuw Juniper I last worked on.

Elk – Informal Style Parson’s Juniper (Juniperus Parsonii)

A little Jin and shari work in a few places - now you may see what I felt, when I decided to call it Elk. It looks horrible if judged against ‘classic’ styles. The raised branches near the shari, gives the impression of antlers sweeping back from the face (shari) of the Elk. Oh well, at least it sounds good on paper.. :) This tree may stay ‘ugly’ for a while until it fills out, but I believe it will have a powerful presence in a few years with a little thickening of some of it’s ‘antlers’.
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