Jackson Conn Ceramics

Last Saturday I organised for some of my study group members to visit the home of Jackson Conn a local bonsai potter who has been making bonsai ceramics on and off for over 20 years.  I am a firm advocate of supporting local business and I encourage all enthusiasts to do so when the product is right. Yes, sometimes you can shave a bit off the cost by shopping elsewhere, but when your local suppliers and artisans no longer are in business and you have to buy the same product as everyone else and pay through the nose for delivery, don’t complain. Jackson is a prime example of this and it was a pleasure to spend a few hours with him and see him giving the guys a guided tour of his set up and see so many pots going out the garden gate at the end.

 

Pinus Nigra

I picked up this Pinus Nigra back in 2014.  It had previously been a bonsai but when the owner died it spent about 5 years in open ground before being transferred into this large pot and kept as you see it for many years.

below we see the tree being removed from the pot. No easy task as the owner wanted to keep the blue pot intact which caused us to have big issues getting it out with roots attached!!

This is the tree potted up and removal of some unwanted branches.

This is the tree in September 2019 after several years getting it to regrow roots and start the process of back budding.

And after a wiring of the primary structure and another chasing back of terminal buds to induce further back budding.

Close Up

A few trees in close up from European Bonsai San 2019

Accents of European Bonsai San 2019

Some of the accents that caught my eye at the show.

European Bonsai San 2019

I’ve put most of this up on social media during the exhibition but I wanted to record the event here on my blog with a few words about the event.

This was my first time attending EBSS and I was blown away with the standard of the exhibition but more so the relaxed atmosphere in which it is run. Others exhibitions could learn from this. You could walk the display area and take photos and not once did I feel others doing this was an inconvenience to me. In fact I think photos being shared on social media probably attracts more of a buzz around the event and gains more visitors year on year. I know I was one of them this year.

Here is a rather large gallery of photos from the event all taken off my phone. Apologies if the odd shot was taken from someone else on social media as I saved a few to my phone. I’ll do a few separate posts covering the demos and accents etc just to split it up a little. Enjoy.

Beer & Bonsai 2019

On Sunday I cooperated in an event with Boundary Brewing in Belfast. ‘Beer and Bonsai’ brought together two of my favourite things and helped spread to word about both in the local area. This was not about sales or money for me, just friendship and promotion. Starting at 4pm I arrived a little early and set up trees for those attending to view. I had three large window spaces to fill as well as wanting people to get up close with table displays. I selected trees for the tables that I knew would be robust enough to take some handling but I need not have worried as everyone was well behaved.

I did a demo on a raw Scots Pine in a corner which saw most people coming up and asking questions. The tricky part was wiring and styling a tree as it got darker under poor light conditions and under the influence of some pretty decent craft beer. I think in the circumstances it turned out alright.

Below is a gallery of photos taken at various points during the night and some cleaner photos of the trees used.

Sitka Spruce

My Sitka Spruce got another wiring, the second time this year. I’ll not be wiring it in Spring again that’s for sure.

2017

2018

2019 before wiring

and after

and back in 2012 as a reference.

and before collection.

Adam One to One

some recent tweaking and tidying up with Adam’s trees.

Japanese White Pine before and after.

Chinese Juniper before and after

A few others.

 

 

Bjorn Workshop and the 9/11 Scots Pine

A week yesterday, where does the time go! I was taking part in a group Workshop in Belfast with Bjorn Bjorholm. I missed him the last time he visited due to a holiday but this time I grabbed a slot with Belfast Bonsai’s event.

My tree for the day was only a recent addition to my collection but a tree that I have a special connection to. It belonged to my best friend Stephen who was letting a few of his bigger trees go due to the fact that they were bigger than him. Sorry Stephen, I can’t resist 🙂 The tree was originally purchased as raw material from Willowbog Bonsai back in the late 90’s.

I helped Stephen with it’s first styling on 11th September 2001, a date that will forever stay in my memory and why I call the tree the 9/11 Scottie. I can remember standing wiring this tree with Stephen when my wife knocked the window and told us to come inside. We watched the horror unfold.

When Stephen told me he was selling it all these years later I didn’t hesitate to buy it. I have a few trees that have sentimental value to me because of who used to own them but this tree resonates for a different reason. I’ve dealt with a fair bit of stress in my life including Post Traumatic Stress and, for whatever reason, this tree seems to echo back to a time where those involved and survived no doubt have many of the same issues I have. This probably sounds stupid unless you’ve experienced something similar. Anyway, it’s my tree for my reasons and I suppose that’s all that really matters. It seemed fitting for an American Bonsai artist to carry out the work some 18 years later nearly to the day.

This is the tree back in 2001\2.

and a few other pics of it over the years.

and how it was prior to the workshop.

And this is a gallery of the workshop day with my tree.

The finished tree.

A massive thank you to Bjorn. It was pleasing to see that he was as enthusiastic about the tree and result as I was.

A new pot in the Spring more suited to the style and the tree will live on as a memory for me.

 

Developing Deciduous Bonsai Course

Im always happy to review the latest Bonsai Empire course when it hits the internet. This time its Developing Deciduous Bonsai with Mauro Stemberger, Harry Harrington and Walter Pall.

Deciduous work I feel is often under promoted in bonsai circles and I can see this resource being a great addition to what’s available and can be valuable to many bonsai enthusiasts out there.

This course differs in a few ways from the usual Bonsai Empire offerings. Firstly, with three different teachers with three different approaches, we can see that there is more than one way to achieve results. Secondly, the volume of content is higher. Perhaps it’s not as concise as the fundamentals course from Michael Hagedorn or Bjorn’s Bjorholm’s Beginner through to Advanced courses, but this course has its own feel. It’s like getting a front row seat to a lecture or demonstration and being able to sit for 30-40 minutes at a time being entertained. Boil the kettle and get a coffee in hand and sit back.

I haven’t had the time to watch all the content, there’s a lot, but I did get a look at a considerable amount. I take this reviewing seriously you know 🙂

There is a lot of knowledge being shared and I think most enthusiasts will pick up something new by listening to the artists.

Harry has some great info regarding carving and collecting yamadori. As a fellow collector it’s good to hear the approach of others and compare.

Mauro’s content was excellent and enjoyable to watch with good knowledge being imparted.  For those who want to get to grips with wiring, his how to wire section was well planned out and executed. Not an easy task teaching wiring and this is as good a example as I’ve seen in a while.

Walter delivers in his own unique style and has a lot of his knowledge to share. His hedge pruning technique, much discussed in bonsai circles, is explained in depth. I think many people, myself included, perhaps judged without the full story. Now, I’m not saying I’m a covert but depending on your personal circumstances and your material you might get some use out of this technique. If nothing else, he’s entertaining and he knows it.

Perhaps one of the surprises of this course was the bonus material from Jan Culek, an artist who’s work I admire. He goes deep on rock planting, another subject close to my heart and I found this content very watchable.

For 10 hours of content, made to the usual high standard we now expect from Bonsai Empire, I feel that most enthusiasts, especially those without access to a good club, will be very happy with the lifetime access that Bonsai Empire gives you.

Here’s some further information about the course and a link to sign up.

About the course
Title: Developing Deciduous Bonsai
Three free lessons are available for preview there.
Published: Sept 7
Lectures: 26
Duration: 10 hours
Price: $64.99 for lifetime access
Description:
The Developing Deciduous Bonsai course is centered exclusively on Deciduous and Broadleaf evergreen tree species. The teachers (Mauro Stemberger, Walter Pall and Harry Harrington) explain how goals, as well as techniques, should be approached differently in the main developmental stages of Deciduous Bonsai. Learn about setting the main branch structure of a tree, creating ramification, carving, deciduous apex design, yamadori collection, wiring, creating rock plantings and much more.