Friday, 26 September 2014

Post 172 New Bowed Wall Rectangular pot shape

I continue to tinker with pot shapes searching for something within traditional bounds but being just a bit different.

I started with straight oval and rectangular as the basic black and white of bonsai pots.


Then I truncated the oval to create a compound oval, so the long axis finished with a flatter curve and the 'corners' as they were were of quite long radius. This is Pot 87.

At the same time I created a bowed wall rectangular pot with wall curvature almost like a oval pot. With this shape the corners had a tighter but still rounded corners. This is Pot 104

Some of this was motivated as much by technical considerations as aesthetics. With the straight walled rectangular pot there are forces that come into play while the clay is vitrifying, going through that rubbery state at over 1000 degrees C and shrinking 8%. With the clay available in the market here it is very difficult to finish up with a straight wall that doesn't show some movement, sometimes more than I would like. With a straight wall it can bow in either direction and there's not much to stop it. The only way to make one reliably is to slab it up from very leather hard clay and then at that level of moisture the joints are at risk. With a curved wall it has no space to do the reverse flip from outwardly convex to inwardly concave and so is far more stable.

With the design of Pot 104 being quite technically successful I have been thinking about how far I can bring in the curvature to approach straight and still retain the stability of the curve.

This is what I've done with this pot, No 127. It is still drying and so a little way from the final test at glaze temperatures. The long side curvature is probably half that of Pot 104.

 The pot at this point is about 370mm long so will finish up at about 335mm after glazing.

I've made three pots to this basic shape. The making allows a certain flexibility in design. This one has quite sharp corners. Another is similar with a lower rib or bead at the base of the wall, and the third one is made with more rounded corners more like the brown pot above. The other tweak possible is to mount the feet flush with the wall.

127 larger pots and another 48 shohins and still refining, still trying to catch up with my changing tastes and technical understanding. What do you think?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Post 171 Gardenia interspecies graft update

Back in July last year I made a couple of test interspecies gardenia grafts.

It was a test to see if an interspecies (between species) graft would work. I'd read somewhere that interspecies grafting was good for about a 50% success rate.  Interspecies grafting is regulalry used however to develop bonsai - to change the leaf size of a rootstock plant to one that is more desirable for bonsai, for example.
I chose the gardenias because I had a few Gardenia augusta stumps that I'd pulled from the garden. Some of them are a nice size for bonsai but the leaf size is more trouble than it's worth, although I'm sure they would reduce down. I'm looking to develop small trees and so want reliably smaller leaves.
The species that will give me just that is Gardenia radicans, the prostrate variety. I have some of these growing in the garden too so struck a few cuttings and made a couple of test grafts.
A couple of weeks ago I separated the donor scion plant and the grafted piece has been surviving quite nicely - enough to call it a success at this point.

 This is one of them. You can see the grafted section of radicans on the left hand branch.

 Here's a close-up. As you see I used a simple but effective approach graft. At this point I've left the tail there so the graft is obvious but that need to be trimmed off.

 This is another one of my stumps. Now that the test has confirmed the proposition I'll get to it and put two or three radicans grafts on it.

Here's one of the little radicans ready to use. Note the plant is growing at the edge of the pot to make the approach graft more accessible. This particular plant will be good for two grafts at once.

So if you aren't or haven't used grafting on your bonsai it is very easy, foolproof, and valuable for all sorts of development goals.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Post 170 New hairpin insertion graft

In Post 132 from November last year  I showed a hairpin insertion graft I did for the first time on a Queensland Small Leaf Fig.
There have been two updates the first in March and then July.
At the starting blocks for this season both those grafts have multiple shoots and are showing all the signs of developing good secondary branches. I'm confident that by the end of this season they will be well developed and look like they've always been there.

I have another tree of the same species that also needs a little help.

 At the top of the tree there is a section of trunk that has clear air behind it. At this level in the tree the branching needs to be fuller and so I want to place a new branch to fill the gap.

This is a closer view from the front. You can see a new shoot starting up from the trunk - going out to the left. I could conceivably use it by training it to the rear but that isn't an ideal outcome. It might be more useful bringing it towards the front left.

 This is a picture form the rear. From this angle it is very clearly a gap that needs filling.

 The new branch needs to come out somewhere just close to the new little shoot but just a little below it.

 This is the hairpin that has been prepared for some time. I initially wound it up with some raffia and then wire to shape.

 Here it is unwrapped.

 This is the position to drill a hole.

 After drilling. Quite a large diameter and depth for the size of the trunk but I have no doubts it will be fine.The hole is about 6mm depth.

 The preparation of the scion involves just a light scrape on the upper and lower surfaces to initiate callus development on the scion to bond with the host.

 Here the scion is inserted.

 I've made up a small wire loop to insert with the scion the make sure it stays well seated.

 Here the wire is positioned to hold the scion in position.

And finally with some cut paste to seal and initial wire for shape. The scion is in clear light so once incorporated will allow fast branch development. In two months it should be ready for separation.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Post 169 Bonsai Society of Queensland Exhibition 2014

Last weekend was the annual exhibition for the Bonsai Society of Queensland at the Botanic Gardens auditorium.
A good showing of trees and rocks. Here are some of the trees, with a few of mine included:

Nice table with this fig. The owner had a few of similar design made - see the first photot too.

This is a closeup, nice triple mitred corners.

While I was killing a little time I went for a walk and had a look at the Japanese garden. For a small garden it is one of the best I've seen anywhere and if you are ever in town it is something worth seeing. On a day when there aren't too many folks around it is a very contemplative peaceful place. And if you are lucky you'll get to see a big dragon sunning itself.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Post 168 Ficus Fusion Project

I've been working towards a few modest ficus fusion projects for the coming growing season. Late last year I potted on a number of cuttings I'd taken and wired for initial shape with a view to later fusion. But these were fairly modest in size aiming for a wide trunked shohin.

At the Gold Coast exhibition there was a Queensland Small Leaf Fig which has inspired me to set the goal a little higher; actually both taller and wider. The tree in the exhibition would have been about 800mm high and had a trunk on it that looked like the sort of thing you get with a strangler fig after the supporting tree has died and rotted away in the rain forest. I’m inclined to think that it has actually come about by a little careful cutting and carving but the result is very impressive. The ‘windows’ in the trunk give a view through to the hollow trunk or right through to the space beyond. Either that or its a fusion of a number af advanced trees.

Last Season I let one of my QSLFs run and it has produced about 10 leaders all about 300 to 400mm long, perfect for a fusion project. A couple of days ago I pruned these all off and set them as cuttings. With the weather warming up they should strike well in a plastic bag in dappled light. 

This is a sketch of the project I have in mind. The idea is to shape the material into a lattice patterns and graft together at the intersecting points.
With that in mind building this one is going to be a whole lot easier with a framework to attach the individual plants to. A wire framework will be relatively easy to remove in the future by cutting it out bit by bit through the lattice spaces.

I had some plastic coated wire mesh available so coiled some up into a conical shape and then proceeded to just massage it into the shape I wanted, about 200 across the base and about 350 high. That should give me a final tree height .around 450mm, with a 250mm diameter base and perfect taper. 

 Here are some pictures from all sides of the framework. All I need now is for my cuttings to strike and I’m away. 




My experience from the past when starting trees to a formula is to start with 6 and end up with 3 really good ones. I’m not sure I have the energy for that this time so it better be good first time.

 Finally a photoshopped vision of the end result, just 5 years away I'd say...............