Today we concluded a three day Classical Bonsai MasterClass with five students from New Jersey and New York state, plus my assistant. We first discussed the topics they would like to study and selected studying classical bonsai design, wiring techniques, maple bonsai, bonsai refinement as well as bonsai display appreciation.
Each day began with the theory and creation of the main bonsai displayed in the studio alcove as well as the counter display of smaller trees. Powerpoint programs were presented with handouts highlighting the important elements of the topics. On the first day each student went to their hotels with a 23 page Classical Bonsai Design Test comparing 50 different sets bonsai and graphic designs.
After lunch we proceeded into the garage workshop where three more displays were shown and discussed. Finally, the rest of the afternoon was spent training each student’s personal bonsai. My small power washer to clean the bark on bonsai was demonstrated and some tried it out. Looks like they liked this tool to save considerable time cleaning with a toothbrush and sources for similar pressure washers were shared. We all had dinner and discussed bonsai species as well as growing techniques.
Tom Friday and Paul Eschman
The next morning we all discussed the Classical Bonsai Design Test comparisons of bonsai and graphic designs. There were no right or wrong answers, but lively comments were made on several of the images. We then spent considerable time on wiring and forest bonsai design and creation. Again my personal alcove bonsai display was explained. After lunch during the afternoon workshop, while students worked on their trees, my assistant began preparing a large established Ezo spruce forest for redesigning into a rather unusual mixed species planting. When it came time to add the European beech to the Ezo spruce forest all students gathered to discuss the techniques and new design. We all dined together in the evening and several students returned to the workshop to continue working on their bonsai.
Sunday morning began with students pairing together to create three bonsai displays in the garage workshop. They could use any of my personal bonsai along with my vast collection of display tables, scrolls and companion plants. When each group finished their displays we went into the studio to watch three Powerpoint presentations on Maple Bonsai, Creating Impressive Root Sisplays for Maple Bonsai and Refining Maple Bonsai.
Three student displays
Ginkgo bonsai display
After explaining my Ginkgo alcove display we went out and discussed each of the three student displays. The displays were quite outstanding, looks like they listened well, plus added their own creativity. Students spent time thinking of what they wanted to express and explained their theory to everyone. I was quite impressed with the displays and the selection of display tables, companion plantings and scrolls.
Tom Friday and Bob Taylor displayed a Deshojo Japanese maple bonsai
Paul Tuttle and Sergio Cuan displayed a Dwarf Austrian pine
Paul Eschman and Alan Adair displayed a Scots pine bonsai
After lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon with the final workshop. Some students worked on several trees while others concentrated on a single bonsai. Several larch, maples, pines and a large Zelkova bonsai were refined and improved.
Sergio Cuan with a Zelkova bonsai, not completely finished
Nearly completed Zelkova bonsai on its way to refinement
This was an excellent group of serious students who wanted to improve their understanding of classical bonsai art as well as refine their own bonsai. Each expressed their individual opinions while respecting comments from the others. Additionally they learned and practiced bonsai display which will improve their individual displays in future club shows as well as for the next U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition.