Oscar Jonker has been working his magic again on Bonsai Empire. He’s been teaming up with Bjorn Bjornholm again to bring us the second part of the Advanced course.
I’d been wondering where Empires quality content could take us next and I wasn’t disappointed. Having early access and little time of my own to watch so much content, I sat down one evening to speed review the sections. Well, that didn’t work of course! I ended up binge watching it like a season of Game of Thrones 🙂 Addictive stuff this bonsai thing.
If you have watched any of the previous courses on Bonsai Empire you’ll know that you will always get high quality content filmed to a very high standard and edited well cutting to the chase every single time. Advanced Course 2 Didn’t deviate from this in any way.
Highlights for me were the section on display and I hope this will be taken further in the future. Some great case studies in there too looking back on previous work and bringing us up to date with were these trees are now in their development. This covers both conifers and broadleaf species.
When asked if I’d give an honest review for PBM’s LAB 2 I was excited to see what was different about it compared to other online content for bonsai out there currently. We already have our Mirai and Empire content both of which cater for all our bonsai addictions. What could LAB offer that these didn’t cover already?
On the night of the live stream I watched the stream from 22.00 GMT until midnight knowing I was up again for a full on day at 04.00 the next morning. I felt that 2 hours would be enough to get a feel for it but by midnight I was gutted that I really had to get to bed. Happily I was able to dip back in 24 hours later and watch the missed content in the replay.
I titled this blog post ‘innovation inspiring Innovation’. Watching a potter, a stand maker and a bonsai artist all pushing the limits of what’s possible, and in turn throwing down that challenge to the others at each progressing LAB session, was a great watch and thought provoking.
In the words of the LAB Project “Rather than starting with a styled tree and asking both the pot and the standmaker to respond to it (as is traditionally practiced), the LAB asks: What if the stand comes first?; or the pot?; Where can these makers take the art of bonsai if they allow themselves to influenced by each other in an entirely new way?”
This actually helps explain the LAB sessions better than words can.
I’m a Mirai Live guy and know what to expect from Ryan’s quality work but what blew me away was Austin and Ron’s content in the stream. Both the pots and stands are on another level and far removed from traditional practices.
I guess if you are a traditionalist then much of this won’t be to your taste, but were would be be in bonsai if no one ever pushes the limits to see just how far we can go. Check out the LAB website here for more information and and watch the trailers for the first few sessions. Next session is August 17th and if the GMT time is right, I really hope to be watching how this has evolved further from LAB 2
As an avid follower/listener of the Mirai Asymmetry podcast I was already acquainted with the ambitious LAB Project being delivered by the Pacific Bonsai Museum I had been driving and listening to the guys discussing the first session and found myself wanting to pull over just to see what the tree, stand and pot combo actually looked like having missed part one live. When I did manage to get a look on the PBM website I wasn’t disappointed.
I can only say that all these guys are truly nuts!! I couldn’t think of anything harder to achieve in bonsai, three separate elements being created simultaneously by three different artists and expecting it to mesh. A seriously ambitious project from Aaron Packard.
Pacific Bonsai Museum’s LAB (Living Art of Bonsai) is a four-part, multi year-long experiment investigating 1) the influence of inspired architectural settings and
2) the effect of collaboration re sequencing on the art of bonsai. The overall goal of the project is to advance innovation and artistic expression in bonsai.
Here’s the highlights reel from the first session.
I have a soft spot for PBM having visited the museum back in 2017 and viewed the natives exhibition. Having missed part one of the LAB project I fully intended to live stream the second part. At 2pm PDT this translated to a very view-able 10pm GMT for me. Then to my delight Aaron dropped me an email offering me the opportunity to review the content live in Part two. I just love the bonsai community 🙂
On April 6, 2019, Pacific Bonsai Museum presents The LAB Session 2 // The Site of Bonsai: Focus on the Vessel & Tree-potting //. . Watch the live action as Ron Lang, Austin Heitzman, Ryan Neil, and Aarin Packard take bonsai where it’s never gone before. Take part in the discussion via chat. . LIVE STREAM Tickets ON SALE NOW at @pacificbonsaimuseum (link in bio) / http://pacificbonsaimuseum.cleeng.com
Looking forward to being a part of this live experience.
Here is the programme for next Saturday’s school/teaching session;
Munster Bonsai Club School in Partnership with Ian Young (Bonsai Eejit)
Saturday 23rd March 2019 10am to 4 pm
Introduction and seasonal issues discussion. This will be a starting point for all school sessions to cover any worries members are having with their trees and how to cope with what the weather is throwing at us.
A discussion on early season feeding and repotting aftercare will be included in this portion of the day.
Inspired by Natives
A short Powerpoint looking at Native trees and how they can inspire our own bonsai design.
Air Layering Theory
A run through on how when why and what we air layer both via flip chart and Powerpoint.
Noelanders Trophy 2019 Gallery
Looking at trees in exhibition at this years special 20th Trophy and studying how they are presented and prepped for showing.
This maple was brought to me last April for work. It was weak and in examination of the base a full half of the trunk base was dead and rotting away.
I explained to the owner that things would get worse fast with the rotted wood coming away and creating an ugly base. It was obviously also having an impact on the general health of the tree. We opted to layer the tree just above the rotted base at the first point were a full 360 of live tissue could be cut into. We potted it into fine akadama topped off with a thin layer of moss to aid water retention.
Last week the tree came back to me for work and removal of the layer if successful.
Above you can see extension on the tree, even on the lower branches. A good sign.
We removed the pot and found a full 360 of radial roots in great shape. It looked like a hula dancers grass skirt. It had even rooted well above the rotted area where sap full would have been weak.
We worked the roots out to soften the edge and even removed some that had rooted above the callous line into the moss and that would have created an uneven nebari. The stump underneath was whittled away with knob cutters.
You can see on the stump of the old base that a full 180 degrees of the trunk was dead at the base.
We took some time to spread out the roots and potted the tree in a spare pot of mine that allowed more room front to back and a little more depth. I’m fairly confident that this tree will fill this pot in a single year.
The top got a light pruning. The low branches may annoy some but I actually like the image. Better this than a dead tree in a few years. We repotted the original stump out of interest to see the rootmass. The rotted portion just fell away and what roots were there were very poor indeed.
Sunday was my last of 6 booked sessions with the Leinster Bonsai Club in Dublin.
It’s been fun working with a group with a varied level of knowledge and ability and trying to pitch each session with just the right balance of theory vs Practical. In the last two years I’ve completed 12 sessions with them and enjoyed every one. I just hope they have too 😂
Plans seem to be afoot for continuing the relationship but spread out more evenly over the calendar year.
A massive thank you to Tom and Paul for all the organisational work and of course to those taking part during the last six months. Also thanks to Max who always grabs some photos during the sessions which I never remember. Here are the ones I stole from yesterday’s session. A tree critique that turned into a practical session 😀
On Saturday I took a day out of one to one workshops to do a Theory and Practical Repotting Day with Munster Bonsai Club at Bruree in Limerick.
I had been asked to focus on this in a session to aid newer members in getting the fundamentals right and gain some new skills.
We had a run through of the why what when and how via PowerPoint and Q&A before a Practical session with club members repotting their own trees and helping others.
I think this was one of the best feel good club days I’ve ever experienced from the outside. A great club. A massive thank you to all those who yet again came out to support a club event. They have been coming thick and fast for a club pushing their learning hard.
Here’s some photos from the day some mine some stolen.
It’s been a busy week down in the South of Ireland doing some one to one sessions with friends from Cobh, Cork, to Limerick then Dublin. Some good times had and great trees played with. A little styling and refinement and, as you’d expect, some repotting.
Here’s some photos from the trip. snow on the way home as usual in Dublin. Thank you to all who supported the road trip. Back again images weeks for another round.
I run a study group once a month for some friends who want to learn more. This has become two separate groups, one on a Friday evening, one on the Saturday morning.
This Weekend we were putting together some trees with rock.
First up was this shore Pine which had some initial work done by Peter Warren in 2017 and was recently rewired by myself.
The tree in September 2017 as raw material.
prior to wiring 2019. after wiring.
The rock collected by a friend over 20 years ago at Blessington lake Dublin
The work. The original plan had to be changed after the heavy roots on the tree wouldn’t let us place the tree on the highest portion of the rock. We looked at other planting options and liked the drama of the option selected.
If you are reading this and are within travelling distance of Newtownards near Belfast feel free to join us once a month for sessions like this.