While over 10,000 people enjoyed the beautiful bonsai and visiting over 300 vendors the organizations sponsoring the exhibition arranged for Robert Steven to coordinate the demonstration programs.
There were thirty demonstrators from throughout the world, each working on conifer bonsai, mostly Sargent Juniper, Japanese five-needle pine and Japanese Black & Red Pines.
All the demo trees were well established, many in bonsai containers. The many Chinese demonstrators, however, had a definite advantage because they brought their own material, mostly pretrained and much larger and quite a bit different that the trees provided to the foreigners. I don’t blame them and I would have the same if had the opportunity.
There were five sessions for the demonstrations, during two and a half days. Although three hours were allocated for each demo, most did not require the total time.
Eight demonstrations were on the same stage at the same time, but the last session only had six demonstrators. During the demos there was loud Chinese music in the background. Behind the eight demonstrators was a huge LED projection screen with close ups of the people working, and these changed as well all the time. It was quite distracting for both the viewers and demonstrators. Carefully look at the next photo of Sharon from Germany working. There is a black circle around her, while the red circle is around her projected image. Kind of strange…. There is also a head above her head from the screen as well.
All the demo trees were displayed beforehand next to a hanging scroll of each demonstrator’s face, name and country. A great unique idea! And, the same image was also used on large banners announcing the demos and also used on the custom made aprons. Even better a duplicate scroll was presented to each demonstrator along with a certificate at the conclusion of each demo.
I selected my Japanese black pine demo tree and decided on a good front to make a simple classical bonsai. The back had an ugly scar with a piece of dead wood imbedded into the hollow scar. Just before my demo I decide to turn the tree around to emphasize a long lower branch for the focal point. Unfortunately, that left the scar exposed. But I brought my own tools, and copper wire too, since I don’t really like using sissy wire. During the demos there was a moderator in Chinese with a translator. When he approached me he grabbed the lower trunk of my tree to move it. Well, I had a wooden mallet which I was using to hollow out the trunk in my hand and said ‘NO’, he kept his hands on the rough bark, so when I went to smack his hand, he moved. I nicely explained that the rough bark requires years to develop and is highly prized. I then needed a sweet tea break, not McDonalds, but still delicious… and full of sugar. My good friend Dianne Boekhout from Perth, Western Australia assisted me and we both had black hands after needle plucking and wiring. She has helped me several times and know how I work, and is also President of the Australian Associated Bonsai Clubs.
I did NOT add the cone and got lucky we did not knock it off while shaping the tree
Actually, just before our demo I spotted another great tree, a large Japanese red pine. So, I tried to switch it, however the Chinese owner brought it from home for his demo so it was not available. Good thing we did not use it. He had SEVEN people helping him shape the tree and took all the allocated time.