It's been a long time coming...

That applies to this blog, I apologize for the long hiatus from fresh posts. Websites are insatiable and so are our trees in the spring.

The title also applies to America's premier bonsai event, The Artisan's Cup. Taking place from Friday, September 25th until Sunday, September 27th, The Artisan's Cup will be a bonsai event like none other. Held in the Portland Museum of Art (one of America's top ten fine arts museums), this show will be talked about for years to come. With exhibits designed by the renowned firm Skylab Architecture, very little about this will be similar to any previous bonsai exhibitions.

Add to that the opportunity to visit the newly-formed Portland Bonsai Village and Seattle's Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection, there's really no question about attending for the serious bonsai lover.

Details about tickets and tours of the other attractions can be found here. Not all of the details are published yet, but that will be where they're available when ready.

Wayne Schoech of Stone Lantern said it best in his blog, "What if you woke up on September 25th and realized that you’re not at the Artisans Cup and it’s too late to get there? Your friends are there and some of the best bonsai in North America are there, but not you. Sadly, you’ll just have to wait for the photos (now matter how good the photos are, they’ll always be a shadow of the real thing)."

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Spring work has begun

Despite all meteorological evidence to the contrary (I'm getting six inches of snow right now), spring is here. We're running a few weeks behind, so I'm doing late winter styling of some material, and spring repotting of stuff in my heated greenhouse. Add to this student and client trees and I'm a pretty busy boy right now.

I shoehorned the first styling of this Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) in between client work. Can't wait to see it in a pot. I'll repot it into a large bonsai pot soon. Within a few years it'll get a pot that matches it better.

  The tree before.

 

The tree before.

  The tree after styling.

 

The tree after styling.

  A tempting option.

 

A tempting option.

A wonderful and playful tribute

What you're looking at is the handiwork of BSNY student and friend Andy Kaye. A veterinary surgeon and bonsai student, Andy has also been making wonderful automata, or kinetic sculptures.

After learning about Yuji Yoshimura and his history, Andy designed and built this wonderful sculpture over the course of eight months. Enjoy these videos; come see the real thing at Bonsai Shinsei New York.

The cams, gears and shafts that animate the automaton.

  Close-up of the master at work.

 

Close-up of the master at work.

  Note the wonderful cartoon vintage Masakuni wire cutters, the real aluminum wire, and the real academia and lava particles used.

 

Note the wonderful cartoon vintage Masakuni wire cutters, the real aluminum wire, and the real academia and lava particles used.

  The full piece.

 

The full piece.

  This really looks like the Yuji I remember. Andy really captured his working posture!

 

This really looks like the Yuji I remember. Andy really captured his working posture!

  The dedication to my first bonsai teacher.

 

The dedication to my first bonsai teacher.

More of Andy's work can be seen on his YouTube channel.

Quick Fall clean-up

Did a quick fall cleanup on one of my lone tree style Hinoki cypress. Keep falling deeper in love with this beautiful pot on which Ron Lang and I collaborated. Will do a more detailed prep late winter and expect to show it a few times next year.

Opening a treasure chest

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending Lang Bonsai's sixth annual kiln opening festivities. Although I own and have commissioned pots from Ron in the past, I have never been to his (or any other) kiln opening before. 

A peek inside

A peek inside

Lang Bonsai Containers is Ron Lang and his wife Sharon Russell-Edwards. They specialize in bonsai and kusamono containers, often collaborating to create pieces that draw on each of their creative strengths.

Friday began with an evening wine and cheese reception and presentation on the weekend's events. Ron gave a wonderful description of the creation of many of the pots in the firing as well as a guide to how we'd help unload the kiln the next day. Many commissioned pots were in this firing and the new owners were there to see the pots emerge from the kiln. So exciting. Jim Doyle of Nature's Way Bonsai gave a presentation on copses, isolated islands of trees in larger landscapes. On saturday, he led a workshop creating bonsai euonymus copses on ceramic slabs coming out of the kiln that day. Young Choe then gave a talk on kusamono (grass plantings). Later in the weekend she led a workshop creating wonderful kusamono in Sharon and Ron's containers.

The door is opened!

The door is opened!

We get a first look at the treasures within. If you visit Bonsai Shinsei New York anytime soon, ask to use that blue mug on the right if you have tea or coffee. :)

 

This is a special container commissioned by an accomplished PA bonsai creator. Ron had detailed the creation of this complex and powerful pot the night before. Now we all got to see it in its finished form.

You can see how much the pot shrank in firing from the "footprint" of unburned shelf around the feet.

You can see how much the pot shrank in firing from the "footprint" of unburned shelf around the feet.

I was able to purchase some wonderful pots at the opening. Here are a few photos. Call me if you're interested in any of them.

The haul.

The haul.

Pots from this firing were dated by Ron - something only done for these special firings.

Pots from this firing were dated by Ron - something only done for these special firings.

One of the few drum pots that Ron has begun to craft. Had to get one of the two that were in this group. Note the rim suggesting the hammered brass of the first antique drum pots.

One of the few drum pots that Ron has begun to craft. Had to get one of the two that were in this group. Note the rim suggesting the hammered brass of the first antique drum pots.

A wonderful glazed round pot by Sharon. The finish is different all around the pot. Yum!

A wonderful glazed round pot by Sharon. The finish is different all around the pot. Yum!

More of these please...

More of these please...

A large unglazed oval.

A large unglazed oval.

Wish I had time to write more. But I'm off to prepare for this weekend's Shinsei School class sessions and then the final preparations for the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester. You'll all be there, right?

A once-in-a-lifetime-event

I was excited to attend the historic Kennett Collection reduction sale. The Kennett Collection is one of the most impressive and exciting private bonsai collections outside of Japan. Doug Paul, the collection's founder and mastermind has built an amazing mix of trees from around the world with a heavy emphasis on hard to import mature Japanese specimen trees.

His decision to reduce the number of trees in his collection making room for more impressive trees isn't surprising. Doug's decision to offer them at incredibly low prices and to offer them fairly to the entire American bonsai community is. It would have been easy to consign trees to some of his partners that assist him in building and maintaining the collection. Maximizing the value returned would have been easier this way (and probably much simpler than pulling off a professional sale of this magnitude). So this sale that puts high-quality bonsai in the hands of the general community at affordable prices is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Getting the trees prepared for the hoardes.

Getting the trees prepared for the hoardes.

I was hired by a New York City client to act as his agent with an impressive list of trees to buy. The rules of the sale had been posted online and Doug honored his equitable rules despite rumors of lucrative offers coming in right up until the sale began.

The Rules...

The Rules...

Over 100 buyers gathered in the hours before the opening. Cars lined the county roads around the nursery that hosted the event. Buyers chose a colored wristband from a closed box located in the gloriously warm registration tent (the day was cold until only the last buyers were leaving). People peered over the fence to try to locate the trees they were interested in buying.

A few minutes before the sale, the globe-trotting MC Peter Warren explained the rules and warned rule-benders of the consequences of not playing fair. He closed his remarks by wishing us all well and saluting "Bonsai Power."

"Bonsai Power"

"Bonsai Power"

Directly after this, the wristband order entry was unveiled and the first group of fifteen were let in.

The Order...

The Order...

My wonderfully supportive wife and partner Roslyn accompanied me and she had drawn an orange wristband. So I was able to get in with the first wave and secure three of the trees my client wanted. For the next couple of hours I watched the tags fly off the impressive selection of trees for sale. When asked, I offered my opinions on trees and waited for Roslyn's turn to enter. When she got in we were able to buy a fourth tree and complete the buying trip.

Beautiful large shimpaku selected by my client.

Beautiful large shimpaku selected by my client.

Ooh-la-la

Ooh-la-la

Mmmmm.

Mmmmm.

Just after Noon all thirteen waves had been let in and additional trees were allowed to be purchased. By 1:00 or so most people were paying for and taking their trees home. As expected, the team handling payment and checkout were efficient and professional.

Beginning to pack the truck.

Beginning to pack the truck.

It just fits. 

It just fits. 

We're going to need a bigger truck...

We're going to need a bigger truck...

Stay tuned for the rest of the story; "Little Trees in the Big City."

If it's springtime, this must be Portland.

Back at my West Coast home; Bonsai Mirai outside Portland. I'm studying with Ryan Neil and came out a day early to work on some of my trees out here.

Today we finally potted a tree I've been working on for a few years. Don't have a before photo with me, but here are a few pictures from today's repotting and a quick and dirty shot of the tree after the work. Although I had commissioned a pot for it, the pot wasn't ready and I defaulted to the first pot I liked for the tree - a signed Gyozan that just suits this tree. A great tree deserves a great pot.

Sorry for the blur. Here's the rootball as the box it has been in for over four years was removed.

Sorry for the blur. Here's the rootball as the box it has been in for over four years was removed.

More blur, but a great view of the healthy root system of this collected tree in pumice that it went into immediately after collection by the talented Randy Knight.

More blur, but a great view of the healthy root system of this collected tree in pumice that it went into immediately after collection by the talented Randy Knight.

Reducing the root mass in an area of the rootball that will be above soil level at it's final planting angle.

Reducing the root mass in an area of the rootball that will be above soil level at it's final planting angle.

Done for now. An impressive base is revealed as Ryan and I relocate roots to fit into the pot. Over time, some of the still raised roots will be eliminated. 

Done for now. An impressive base is revealed as Ryan and I relocate roots to fit into the pot. Over time, some of the still raised roots will be eliminated. 

Colin Lewis comes to BSNY and the Yama Ki Bonsai Society this Saturday

Colin Lewis will visit BSNY in conduction with the Yama Ki Bonsai Society. Colin will be offering his advice and knowledge while analyzing the trees people bring to the meeting. Non-members are welcome to attend and bring trees.

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Here's a great interview with Colin from the fine Art of Bonsai website. It will be a great day of bonsai as we begin to see the light at the end of the Winter tunnel.

Be sure to visit his website, http://www.colinlewisbonsai.com, if you're unfamiliar with his work. 

Do you know the way to...Heusden-Zolder?

I do now (thanks Google Maps). Heusden-Zolder, Belgium, is the location for the Noelanders Trophy 2014. This is simply the premier european bonsai exhibition today.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing old friends, newer friends and even - gasp - Facebook friends. Of course, seeing fabulous trees in person that previously I've only seen in photos will be exciting and educational.  

Ok, the 40+ vendors might also have something to do with my trip. Let's just say I hope to test the protective limits of a hard-sided suitcase and bubble wrap.

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Photos are forbidden at the exhibition (buy the commemorative book, it'll be worth it). But I hope to get some photos that give you a feeling for the event. Because I don't believe what happens in Belgium stays in Belgium.

Source: http://www.bonsaiassociation.be/en/trophy....

Unusual bonsai "tools."

So we all have our set of traditional bonsai tools; concave cutters, knob cutters, etc.  But before long, we need some other "tools" as we advance in our work.

Today's item is the very important... bicycle tire.

Hybrid bicycle tire.

Hybrid bicycle tire.

Bicycle tires make excellent patches to protect our trees from physical damage when being worked. A piece of tire can protect damage to delicate bark and too much pressure on live veins. When we first start with smaller trees, many of us use thinner materials since they work with the lower pressures and tensions. But before long we realize that inner tube material or small medical tubing just doesn't protect the tree from stronger forces.

The photo above is of new tires. I keep an eye out for closeout sales at the big online bicycle outfitters. Even better is getting worn out hybrid tires from a local bike shop; often they're free. Old garden hoses are also thick enough to provide good protection. 

Bicycle tire protecting trunk.

Bicycle tire protecting trunk.

So as you prepare yourself for next season's bonsai work, maybe a trip to the local bicycle shop is in order.

Displaying a "new" water pool stone

I recently came into possession of a nice Japanese water pool stone. From the estate of Phyllis Wishnick, this stone was acquired by her in Japan many years ago. I have been itching to see it displayed in a suiban; the stone currently doesn't have a daiza or a box.

I chose this suiban from my collection. Although a bit shallower than I would have liked for this stone, it is still a nice match. I have been looking forward to taking the time to put them together.

I acquired this suiban in 2012 from Mr. Eiji Horie of Sendai, Japan. He is the director of Tohoku Suiseki association, and he holds numerous exhibition in Miyagi and other Tohoku area. Mr. Horie mounted an exhibition of Suiseki in New York City; an amazing show of resilience after the devastating tsunami in his area of Japan. I was able to purchase a number of stones (collected personally by Mr. Horie) as well as scrolls painted by him.

This suiban is by Reiho Shouzan of tokoname.

Suiban

Suiban

Chop

Chop

The stone was acquired by Phyllis from Japan many years ago. It is a nice, unaltered stone with a nice darker gray color. The shape is excellent with good proportions and a nice deep pool. Ringed along one side are raised areas suggesting mountains at a distance.

From above.

From above.

Bottom of stone.

Bottom of stone.

I assembled the tools I needed to set the stone in the suiban.  A copper scoop for adding small amounts of sand. Two japanese trowels and a nylon brush for smoothing the sand.

Tools.

Tools.

Sand

Sand

Nylon brush

Nylon brush

I poured sand directly into the suiban, smoothed it out roughly and set the stone to begin. At this stage I'm trying to find a good spot left-to-tight and front-to-back in the suiban. Once I think I've found that, I adjust the angle of the stone to present the "mountains" in the back and let us see into the pool from the proper viewing angle. We can see here that the suiban is a little too shallow for this stone. A deeper suiban would allow more of the stone to be buried and give a more stable, grounded, feeling. But the size and shape work better than anything else available.

Initial placement.

Initial placement.

Next I add sand and smooth it out evenly across the surface. Finally, I spray the sand and the stone with water, partially filling the pool and thoroughly wetting the stone.

A low side view of the set stone.

A low side view of the set stone.

And a slightly higher viewing angle that allows you to explore to pool.

And a slightly higher viewing angle that allows you to explore to pool.

I'm happy with how this looks and am enjoying seeing the stone on display. I will explore a rectangular bronze suiban that's deeper; but its strength and detailed decoration will probably not work as well as this. 

Small deeper suiban will be high on my shopping list in Japan this February. Be sure to contact me if you'd like me to look for items like this for your collection.

Cool trees from a great guy...

My good friend Michael Feduccia of Plant City, FL has a new online shop up and running. If you're interested in top-quality bonsai, this is a site to bookmark.

Great trees presented well for online purchase. There are some exhibition-quality trees in great pots for sale right now.  I'd be happy to help you in caring for, and futher developing, any of these great trees from Michael.

So head on over to his store. There are links to his Twitter feed and full website at the bottom of the page. Michael is one of the great young bonsai talents emerging in the US; keep an eye on him and his trees!

Collected Buttonwood in MC2 Pot by Michael Feduccia

Collected Buttonwood in MC2 Pot by Michael Feduccia

Finally, a peak under the foliage…

Now that the needles have fallen off the branches of my larches, I took the opportunity to remove any wire that was digging in too deep. This is always a tricky task because wire removed too soon just means fresh wire in a few months. So some scarring is almost obligatory for a larch branch to set.

All too soon the trees will be going away for the early part of the winter. I'll miss the hands-on work pretty quickly. 

 

Transient

An honored guest

Bonsai Shinsei New York is thrilled to have an honored guest in the garden for the next few days. 

Root-over-rock shimpaku

Root-over-rock shimpaku

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This beautiful root-over-rock shimpaku was created over 40 years ago by New York area bonsai grower and business-owner Phyllis Wishnick. For the last ten years this tree has been owned and cared for by another accomplished bonsai lover, Lucille Miller. 

Phyllis passed away last month. Here's the announcement sent to the members of our club a few weeks ago:

Phyllis Wishnick, an early and dedicated member of the Yama Ki Bonsai Society passed away on September 20th. Phyllis was 90 at the time she died and still tending to bonsai; some which she had only recently acquired.

Phyllis was an early member of Yama Ki and also ran a successful business importing and selling bonsai accessories - pots, tools and stands. Throughout her years of membership, Phyllis was generous in her donations to the club. Our auctions have been regularly seeded with goodies from Phyllis. She is also the only person I've known with a winter storage "cold frame" so large it required a full-size staircase to access. Her trees and stones were important parts of our displays at the New York Botanical Garden and other area shows. She was an early and strong supporter of the establishment of the U.S. National Bonsai Collection and gave generously for its growth and upkeep over the years. That collection was the first bonsai museum in the world; a distinction of which American bonsai enthusiasts should be especially proud.

Phyllis' friends and family would like to see her remembered at the museum and are raising funds to ensure a memorial in her name there. Some of her last bonsai items are being sold and the proceeds used in this effort. If you would like to make a donation, please make a check out to the National Bonsai Foundation and put "For Phyllis Wishnick" in the memo. In order to make the best impression, we'd like to bundle them and send them as one. Send your check to:

Lucille  Miller    
217 Mortimer St.
Portchester, N.Y.   10573

Yama Ki lost a great member and friend. I look forward to seeing her name at the U.S. National Arboretum.

Mike Pollock
Pound Ridge, NY

9/29/13

 

Lucille displayed this tree last weekend at Yama Ki's exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden as part of their last weekend of fall exhibits. A few of the thousands of visitors who came through remembered the tree from past showings. It was a fitting tribute to Phyllis' skill as a bonsai artist and value as a friend. She will be missed. 

Lucille asked me to bring the tree back for her and I'm thrilled to have it here for a few days and to share it with you.  Enjoy this wonderful, unusual tree. 

Closeup or root and  rock  

Closeup or root and  rock

 

closeup of root and rock 2

closeup of root and rock 2