Welcome to All in One Bonsai

Bitten by the Bug


Welcome to All in One Bonsai...a blog that aims to remind me of what I have forgotten. Over the years I have been finding out as much as I can about the art of bonsai. I hope the information in this blog will shed some light to the beginning bonsai enthusiast out there.


I saw some bonsai trees at a corner market one night in Taipei and asked the guy if he was willing to teach me how to create these miniature trees. He directed me to a night school where all the instruction was in Chinese. My Chinese ability is very ordinary at the least so although I was learning bits and pieces, I really wasn't getting all I wanted from the course. The best parts were when the teacher would start pruning a beautiful tree or when he showed us how to repot a bonsai. The mystery was still out there but my interest wasn't waning, if anything it fueled my motivation to find out more. And so I did.


Let the adventure begin...


Recently I have discovered the joy of pottery. Bonsai and pottery are close friends so it was only a matter of time before I was introduced to her. Welcome to All in One Bonsai...and pottery.


Feel free to visit my site where you can purchase some of my handmade pottery. Quite a few pieces have been wood fired as it is the prefered method here in Taiwan:

AllinoneCeramics



Saturday, 13 February 2016

Lucky Number 8

From 1 to 8

8 is considered a lucky number for the Taiwanese.  The pronunciation of 8 is similar to the phrase "suddenly you have become rich"  - fa tsai.
I want to say that this number was what I had in mind when I uprooted 8 trees yesterday, but the reality is that is was tiring work and I wanted to leave a few other trees in the ground to thicken up some more.

It has been 3 years and 3 months since I planted these cuttings into the ground.  To give you a better idea of the size, that is a chop stick supporting the cutting.

3.3 years ago.

Some of my earlier posts were about how with the help of Jack and ol mo Dave we removed these trees from the ground a year ago and cut the thicker roots.  We then planted them back into the ground.  A year later the result is a more compact root ball with more fibrous roots.  These smaller roots are essential for bonsai.  They do the work of sucking up water and nutrients to the leaves.  The thicker roots are useful as a stabilising structure - like a tap root.  However, because we use wire in bonsai to secure the tree in the pot we do not need this tap root.  We also would not be able to repot a tree with a large taproot into a small pot.

Below are more pictures of these finer roots growing from where we cut a year ago.




I put these guys into a plastic bag and brought them to my roof top.  This is where the potential damage can occur.  I have changed the entire environment for these trees.  They grew up on the mountain and now they find themselves down the hill on top of an apartment.  I need to be careful.  I need to put them in good soil, secure them into a pot, and remove some branches.  I want to prune some larger branches and reduce the amount to foliage.  By removing some branches and leaves this will hopefully reduce the work load of the roots to supply water to these parts.  I also don't want these branches - I want to create an old looking bonsai tree that has endured hardship.  

I prepare the soil.  Granular soil from the same mountain these trees grew up in and also river sand mixed in.

Before venturing up the mountain I visited a local bonsai garden supply area.  Most things were closed but I was lucky to find an old woman just opening up her shop the minute I arrived.  I bought these pots because they were the best available.  I would have preferred a different shape and possibly a little larger in size.
I first put some plastic drainage mesh on the bottom of each training pot.  This will stop the soil from filtering out the smaller holes.

I also poked up some wire through these holes.  I want to secure the tree in the pot.  It is important for the tree to be still and not be swaying around in the breeze.  The tree will not survive if this happens.

I wanted to make this process as efficient as I could make it.  I am not an efficient person but with a little planning the operation moved at a faster speed.  It was 4 o'clock and I wanted to get them into their pot quickly.  I was conscious of the roots drying out in that bag.

BANG - I worked like a mad man, Got them all in and secured in their pot.  

This one wasn't actually a cutting.  We planted a mother tree to look after her cuttings 3 years ago.  This girl has thickened nicely as well.

Some closer pictures of a few of them in their new house.



A healthy watering to make the union complete.

Number 1 before first trimming.
The next morning I set about pruning the longer branches.  I had some rough design ideas in my mind as I did this.

Number 1 after first trimming.  Minor wiring of the 2 branches.

Number 2 before first trimming.

Number 2 after first trimming.  Needed to open the tree up a bit.

Number 3 before first trimming.

Number 3 after first trimming.

Number 4 before first trimming.

I went back and looked at that left branch jutting off to the left.  I ended up reducing it and decided to make it into a jin.  I thought it was too large to have as a side branch so high up on the tree.

Number 4 after first trimming.

Number 5 before first trimming.

Number 5 after first trimming.  I got adventurous with this one.  I think it is important to sometimes take a risk and see what your material can do.  You can read volumes of books but actually doing the real thing is what it is about.  Having lots of trees to work with is also key.  If this was my only tree then I'm not sure I would have removed so much foliage.  Slowly build up your collection of trees and push a few - choose the right season though and make sure the tree is healthy in the first place.  This particular tree, before trimming, was at the peak of its health.  It was growing for 3 years on a mountain and was full of energy.  I believe my severe pruning was a calculated risk.

Number 6 before first trimming.

Number 6 after first trimming.

Number 7 before first trimming.

Number 7 after first trimming.  I feel like this tree could be really nice in the future.

Number 8 before first trimming.

Number 8 after first trimming.  Did some wiring to work some movement into the new apex.

Carnage.
The left overs from the 8 trees.  I could have used all these as cuttings but I decided not to.  If I had a bigger place then that is what I would have done.
3 years and 3 months after the first planting.  It is amazing what can happen in that time!  Life goes on.  Try and fill it.
Take care out there.




Friday, 5 February 2016

Fire Dragon

Fire Breathing Dragon

The dragon is a revered figure in Chinese culture.  It is a powerful beast that causes carnage with its breath full of burning flames.
It is Chinese New Year at the moment and it's the flames of a wood fired kiln that inflict not carnage but beauty.
Below are some new pots that have just undergone 4 days of constant fire.

A small tea pot weighing 219 grams and 9 cm in height.

A nice splash of wood ash in different areas of the pot.

A darker section.

Hat off.

A tea jar, 274 grams.

A Japanese shino glaze was applied to this pot.



A chunky foot right.

I was happy with this tea pot.  I'm actually using it now as I'm typing this post.  It pours pretty well.

299 grams in weight and 11 cm in height.

Some good variation of colour on this one.

My seal and a swirl on the bottom.

Right at you!

My favorite tea bowl I have made so far.

I did pour some glaze over this guy.  As I did I added different levels of thickness.  This resulted in some waves or mountain like lines.

The other side.

A smallish foot ring.

Shino glaze applied inside the cup.  Tea looks nice floating around the bottom.

Wishing everyone a happy Chinese New Year - the year of the MONKEY.