More winter chore catch-up

I know, I know, soil sifting and mixing is a winter task. But with moving into and renovating the studio, it just didn't happen this winter. 

I remembered to snap a couple of pictures as I worked.

Sifted akadama on the left, pumice on the right. These are 2-3 mm sized particles used for our main soil on medium to large size bonsai.

Sifted akadama on the left, pumice on the right. These are 2-3 mm sized particles used for our main soil on medium to large size bonsai.

Lava being sifted. This is the third and last piece of our soil recipe.

Lava being sifted. This is the third and last piece of our soil recipe.

Sprucing up an old larch group

Why don't we larch up old spruce groups?

Whatever. Here's a small Japanese larch group I've been working on for a few years. I bought it at a bonsai event auction where it had been donated by a long-time bonsai practitioner from the New York area. It was a five tree group that had good age (it was started in the 1970s), but was neglected. It had lost its shape; the trees looked more like flat-top style trees than larches. One of the five trees was dead, although the trunk remained in the group.

Enjoy the photos below. The last is after todays winter pruning and the application of just a little wire.

I love showing this group as a four tree bonsai. What do you think? Does breaking the "rule" about having an odd number of trees bother you, intrigue you, or not even enter your mind?

This is the group after its first wiring (a few days after I acquired it).

This is the group after its first wiring (a few days after I acquired it).

Here's a shot almost a year later. The top right shows the growth of my first year with the bonsai. The second two show it after the second styling and the search for a better front.

Here's a shot almost a year later. The top right shows the growth of my first year with the bonsai. The second two show it after the second styling and the search for a better front.

After four years in my garden, it is getting ready to show. Going to work on the lowest left branch on the main tree a bit more this spring...

After four years in my garden, it is getting ready to show. Going to work on the lowest left branch on the main tree a bit more this spring...

Catching up on winter tasks

Opening the studio has put me behind on tasks normally done in the leisure of the winter. Since it is so beautiful here today (and my bamboo delivery came the other day) I'm outside in the sun making repotting tools.

Carving repotting chopsticks and bamboo stakes to fasten trees in pots will fill the morning.  I'll also be making shorter, cruder sticks that are hammered into the root pad to anchor the trees into their pots. 

Up later, pruning and wiring a developing Eastern White Cedar bonsai.

Splitting the chopstick "blanks."

Splitting the chopstick "blanks."

Chopstick "blanks" before processing on top of pieces of the original canes they came from.

Chopstick "blanks" before processing on top of pieces of the original canes they came from.

The tips of freshly-made potting chopsticks.

The tips of freshly-made potting chopsticks.

Chopstick profile.

Chopstick profile.

The studio evolves...

Although its a generous space, storage has proven to be limited as I have begun to actively use the studio. I decided to create a room in a space left along the side of the building next to my office. This almost 120 square foot room will house display items; the pots, and stands for bonsai and suiban and sand for suiseki.

The original space.

The original space.

Ready to raise.

Ready to raise.

Raised into place.

Raised into place.

I was privileged to have my friend and master woodworker Sean Smith come to help with the project.  Here Sean is anchoring the new wall.

I was privileged to have my friend and master woodworker Sean Smith come to help with the project.

Here Sean is anchoring the new wall.

Sheetrock almost done.

Sheetrock almost done.

The wall is done. It's officially a room.

The wall is done. It's officially a room.

Having given up looking for an authentic barn door, we decided to build our own to get the right size and shape.   That's me sanding the back of the new door.

Having given up looking for an authentic barn door, we decided to build our own to get the right size and shape. 

That's me sanding the back of the new door.

We designed and built the door and I used some creative finishing techniques to give the appearance of a door with some history. Here Sean is beating it with a heavy chain.

We designed and built the door and I used some creative finishing techniques to give the appearance of a door with some history. Here Sean is beating it with a heavy chain.

The final finish. We distressed the door with a sander and various manual methods. Then I painted the door with two colors and stained over the top.

The final finish. We distressed the door with a sander and various manual methods. Then I painted the door with two colors and stained over the top.

The finished door handle. Collected from a beach in Biddeford, Maine on a visit to bonsai artist Colin Lewis, I spent the better part of a day sanding the wood smooth. Then I stained it and lacquered it for a protective finish.

The finished door handle. Collected from a beach in Biddeford, Maine on a visit to bonsai artist Colin Lewis, I spent the better part of a day sanding the wood smooth. Then I stained it and lacquered it for a protective finish.

The finished door. Mounted on a sliding barn door track, the door allows easy access with an 84" high by 42" wide opening.

The finished door. Mounted on a sliding barn door track, the door allows easy access with an 84" high by 42" wide opening.

Come see the finished room and new "old" door at the studio this Spring. 

Come see the finished room and new "old" door at the studio this Spring. 

Wrapping up

We finished the weekend with more repotting and finalizing our acquisitions for the studio.

Enjoy the photos; the new trees will go online when they reach the garden and get photographed in mid-April.

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More from Mirai

Now that's more like it! Rain off and on (mostly on) as we spent another day learning and repotting.

Here are some photos from our repotting home.

Hope to get a few more tomorrow. We start and end early, then it's off to PDX for the redeye home.

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Bonsai heaven

Woke up, had breakfast and went up to heaven, bonsai heaven that is.

Spent a mostly rain-free day at Ryan Neil's Bonsai Mirai. As always, days spent with Ryan are packed with knowledge effectively and efficiently communicated. By midday I was excited to work on trees as well as see my trees at Mirai that I hadn't seen since June. One will be repotted; others will be studied for styling later in the year.

I'll also be buying some trees for Bonsai Shinsei New York. These are world-class collected trees from the American west. Can't wait to have them at the studio in April.

Check out some photos from Mirai here. I'll be adding more between now and Sunday when I'll be heading home.