Welcome to All in One Bonsa

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:


Esty Shop: AllinoneCeramics




Thursday, 20 July 2017

Wabi Sabi


Wabi Sabi?

I first heard about Wabi Sabi reading bonsai magazines from Japan years ago.  The definition of wabi sabi is said to be very difficult to explain.  It is believed to be more of a feeling than anything else.  The feeling is centered around the beauty of  imperfection or beauty in something of age.  There are many interesting articles written about Wabi Sabi but I'm not going to attempt another one here....mainly because I do not have the skill.  Do a search in your own time, it's a worth a read.

Japanese Tea Bowls

A potter from Japan named Tanaka Chojiro is the founding father of the tea bowl shape.  He, alongside a tea master called Rikyu were responsible for bringing wabi sabi into the tea ceremony.  Chojiro formed and carved the classic tea bowl we still see replicated to this day.  Before Chojiro and Riku the tea ceremony in Japan used predominately Chinese style pottery, which were often formed in the Chinese aesthetic.  People during that time saw this 'new' style as a revolution, a change in thinking that has remained in the Japanese culture to this day. 

This is one of Tanaka Chojiro's tea bowl made in the late 16oo's.  It is considered one of his best bowls.  This style epitomizes the wabi sabi aesthetics.

Chojiro was a potter whose father immigrated from China in the late 1600's.  Chojiro's tea bowls are in museums around Japan.  I would urge you to check them out as they are simple but evoke a feeling of beauty - I guess they are the classic and original wabi sabi tea bowls.  They are raku tea bowls that are either black or red in colour, unadorned and simple.  I love them and have been attempting to make my own wabi sabi style tea bowls.  There is a Raku museum in Kyoto that traces 16 generations of potters originating from Chojiro that specialize in making tea bowls.  The family is still active today!  We went there last year and it was brilliant.
This is my attempt at a wabi sabi tea bowl.  This is one of my favorites.

I have always enjoyed the Japanese tea bowl.  I love the humble shape and idea that on a cold day you can wrap your hands around the bowl and feel a little warmer while you drink either tea or soup.
Most of the pots I made in this post are larger tea bowls, however, there are a few tiny ones that you would only have to use your thumb and index finger to make short work of the contents.   

It is important to mention that making tea bowls that have uneven rims, finger dents in the side, and splashes of uneven glazes are all intentional.  It is part of the wabi sabi deal.  And it is a whole lot of fun to make!

I must admit that most of my recent posts have been showing my latest pots and not bonsai related.  Sorry about that but it's where my head is right at the moment.  I still water my bonsai trees daily and want to write more bonsai posts soon. 

Please enjoy some new pots that have all been wood fired here in Taiwan. 


Here is a very small tea bowl.  I used a meat mallet to add some interest.




A larger one.  9 cm in height, 11 cm in width, and weighs 434 grams.

I glazed the inside and also used Japanese black clay slip.

A few different colours.  I glazed the inside and lip because it will be easier to wash and more comfortable to drink from.




This pot has an interesting story.  I originally gas fired this tea bowl but the glaze ran due to the pot not being that well cleaned off.  I liked the shape so in our next wood firing I threw this guy in to see what would happen.  The sections where the glaze ran (didn't cover the surface) were filled in with natural wood ash from the firing.  I like the effect.  This pot has been through a lot and come out the better man.


This tea bowl has two finger indents on either side.



I tried to be creative with this one.  It is different and possibly one too many moons present.

Perhaps the small inside moon would have been enough.

I got aggressive with the opposite end of my throwing stick...creating a fairy deep groove (baby).


A brush with that Japanese black clay...which was very groggy...contained a lot of sand and a bit prickly.

Another angle of the indentation. 



I decided not to alter this tea bowl too much.  I wanted to use glaze in a way that showed some appearance of movement. 


I actually don't like it.  I find this part not easy to look at.

I prefer this side. 



I think this is a more decisive glaze application.


I painted with black clay slip...trying to get a mountain range going. 


Another aggressive swipe with a stick.

This is a quiter pot.  It is a good idea to make different types of pots...it becomes more fun and eventually I guess you can decide which type to make more of depending on what feels best for you.

I didn't apply much glaze to this one, just letting the wood do it's work.

A good mix.



Went a little crazy here.  Different feel.




This guy was an experiment.  New white clay from America.


A slight crack in the lip.  I want to fill it in with gold leaf.  I have seen this done before and I hope to do the same with this small pot.

Nice clay.  Slightly groggy...only slightly.  I like it.

Tried some pattern carving.  The important aspect of doing something like this is that the cuts need to be fluent and decisive...it is not easy to do.


A little bamboo plant growing at the base.



This pot was fired in a wood kiln once but the result was very bland.  It didn't receive enough heat which left the cup matte white.  I decided to fire it again and this time the result was so much better.  I think in the future if I have a pot that I like the shape of and it fails in one firing I will give it a second chance. 


A twisted wire was used to create this surface.



Not sure about this one myself. 







For this fellow I used a cooking wooden spoon found in my kitchen.  The spoon had little drainage holes in it, hence the small buttons formed around the pot.  I slapped the spoon against the sides of the bowl when wet.





This one was thrown a touch wider at the base and I left a narrow foot ring when trimming.  The result is that when looking at the pot, it is hard to see the foot ring.  Most people value the foot ring and like to see it when the bowl is on a table.



The Tanaka Chorjiro tea bowls were all hand carved and hand molded, a pottery wheel was not used.  The foot rings of the hand carved bowls always have more character compared to a trimmed foot off the wheel like this one.  I must try some.

A small cascade bonsai pot.




This pot is only 5 cm in height.



A 7.5 cm tea cup with handle. 




A finger/thumb pinch.  Still in the tea bowl shape though.

I am getting quite a collection of these very small tea gulpers.




27 cm in diameter.  I plan on making more of these fruit bowls.


I think I may have found a suitable object to give the viewer an idea of the original size of each piece.  Fruit!  Perhaps the multitalented grape?  My hand model isn't always so willing. 

Thanks for taking the time to view these pieces.  I enjoy taking the pictures and writing a little bit about each one.  I like giving some thought into this with the hope it will make the next pots better.

Take care out there.

Please visit my online shop at AllinoneCeramics for these and other pieces.