Saturday, 28 February 2015

Post 196 New pots

Over the last week I finished off a number of pots in two glaze firings. There were a number of large commission pots fired and I'll post these first.

   Pot No 133  Oval, teal glaze    440 x 370 x 84

This teal glaze is one I use regularly. It has a little more sheen to it than my regular satin glazes but that will sit well with the type of tree that you would normally place in a pot of this colour.

Pot No 134  Oval, cream glaze    470 x 347 x 87

This one steps up a little in size and with a short axis on about 74% of the long is about where I would normally set the relationship. The objective with this glaze was to get a little of the dapple break but not too much. 
Some time ago on my glazing journey I reached a point of resolving how much glaze to put on a pot for a uniform cover and it came to about 450 grams of dry ingredients per square meter of surface area. So if the glaze is brushed or rolled on the number of coats then becomes academic, unless of course some differentiation in the finish is required which can only be achieved through the application. Finishing one pot like another becomes a challenge of glaze application.

Pot No 135 Oval with internal rim, Antique patina glaze    565 x 425 x 88

Pots 135 and 136 were ordered on the same basis, seeking surface finish replication. I maintain good records of glazes and their formulation, but variation in application is more challenging. These two are big pots at the limit of my kiln space. In fact they have to be placed off square to get them in. The final colouration of the glaze on Pot 135 is entirely in the hands of the applicator, and leaves a very patinated impression. The combination of zinc with nickel as colourants can have a strong and sometimes slightly unpredictable outcome.

Pot No 136  Oval with internal rim,  Off-white iron break glaze  565 x 425 x 88

Pot 136 has a glaze which gives a reddish break through an off-white with a slight olive tone typical of iron coloured glazes in an oxidation environment.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Post 195 Tanuki update

I was doing a little tidy up job on a couple of my Sargent tanukis and thought I'd post them in another update.

This one was started in October 2013 and since the last look if filling out the pads well. It will very soon time to take off all the restraints.

As I have with this one which was the first one I made. The tree has pulled away a little on that first concave bend and I have been working on the right hand branch in particular. If you look at where it was in May 2014 you will see that I have now just about achieved the photoshop design from that earlier post. This has been the last branch to fill out but has done that this growing season. It will get its first 'outing' at a club shohin day in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Post 194 Adventures in grafting

One of the easiest trees to graft would have to be trident maple. That's helpful because the species also likes  to seal over wounds and not re-shoot, happy to photosynthesize through the bark. Here is one such case. The tree formed a quite formidable piece of callus over the cut and there's nothing better to graft into. Anticipating this may be the case I struck a couple of cuttings to graft back. Grafting into callus is a treat, incorporation takes no time at all.

This is what it's like once the tape comes off - rock solid and ready for separation. It might not look pretty right now but over a short time that will all change.

In January 2014 I chopped a number of Ficus benjamina 'shorty' trees that I'd had forever and was never really happy with the way they had evolved as a result of my neglect over years of working. This one was a fused multi-trunker which refused to re-shoot once chopped, demanding a number of grafts to be set. So in January 2014 it has a great base but it's a little hard to see where it's going and how long it's going to take.

Well the answer of course is that it is a ficus and given water and warmth nothing takes too long if you want to develop a small tree. Here it is 12 months later, about 220mm high. It needed something more at the back so the little black pot is the last of two recent grafts to build some depth at the back. They'll be ready for separation soon and then the plan is to widen the canopy, more to the left than the right and it should be ready for showing by October. 

From the earlier shot you can see that I've rotated the tree anticlockwise to bring the rock more into contention and avoid having it recede away from the viewer. It's a nice piece of water eroded/dissolved limestone - got some beautiful flow channels on it. I'll also slide the tree to the right about 15mm in the pot just to take if off center and bring the rock into the pot space, although I quite like the overhang.Taking a photograph is certainly a useful styling guide, you don't get confused by three dimensions.

In July last year I posted a story about inter species gardenia grafting. There was one recovered stump in a picture in that post that I did two Gardenia radicans grafts onto. At the time it had a nice little healthy tuft of its regular large leafed foliage. 
I got this one going this season around October. The grafted branches are very healthy and have been separated for about a month. The plan is to have the foliage movement down and to the left to offset the trunk inclination. It should make a nice small bonsai.

 In the next shot you can see the business ends of the grafts and that I've left the tape in place to allow further strengthening of the bond before removing it. 

 This is another of my ficus chop group. In October last year I posted about the air-layer I did on this one to take the top off the root over rock base. In that Post I illustrated the 'toothpick' technique for air layering. I'd seen it somewhere, though I'd give it a go and tried it on my celtis yammadori group as well. The net outcome is that it didn't work on the ficus and it didn't work on the celtis. Even when you do a full annular ring stripping, if you leave the slightest connection the layer is unlikely to respond well. With the toothpick technique you leave a lot more than a slight connection and there is no driver for the tree to make new roots there. 
So when I was sure nothing was happening and enough time had passed I reverted to the full annular ring strip and this had the desired result pretty quickly. There's a big learning there for anyone who is thinking of how to layer. Once it had produced roots I separated it  and put it into a larger pot.

Only in the last week did I take it out of that one and put it in a shohin pot. The canopy has filled out nicely and as it fills and extends more it will better obscure the chop transition. The new trunk line has bulked up well and in another year will be even better. Nice job and a good addition to my growing shohin collection.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Post 193 New pots in the making

The blog has been a little more weighted to bonsai than pots lately but I am still turning out a few. The kiln is in a bisque firing today with a batch of pots underway. My recent commission work has been mostly larger than smaller pots and there are a couple of those, to finish at 460 to 480mm, in the oven today.

This pot, just made in this shot, is one of two commission pots of the same shape and size. They are probably the largest I've made and largest I would want to. Made green to a length of 660mm and 100mm high with 10mm thick walls and base, makes flipping them an interesting game. I need to go back to the gym and lift some weights. I'm relying on the 5% shrinkage to bone dry to get them into the kiln and then eventually down to something like 575mm when glaze fired.
This pot is now drying and it will be a few weeks before its ready to fire for the first time.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Post 192 Swamp cypress branch insertion graft - progress

This swampy has a couple of hairpin grafts in progress. The upper one in the picture has been there I think since earlier this growing season - perhaps October or November. I can't find a photo to record setting it in place.
I did a post in January on Swampy insertion grafting but I don't think this one was in the photos on that post.

Right now this one is at an interesting stage. As you can see the upper bend (outbound) of the hairpin is heavier than the lower one (inbound) suggesting that it has taken and is now drawing its needs from the tree rather than its original rootstock. The other good indicator of viable incorporation is the swelling at the junction. This is one of the features of this type of grafting that I like. Not only can get good natural branch orientation but also this swelling at the base of the scion enhances the natural appearance. 

The other, lower graft was set later and has not yet reached the same point but has progressed well and will succeed. For the upper one, just to be sure I'll probably leave it run for another month before separating.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Post 191 Pacific Bonsai Collection

The Weyerhaeuser Comapny set up the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection (now Rim-less) collection in 1989 on their extensive and beautiful company 'campus' just south of Seattle. I raced up from Portland on a recent trip to take a look before the forecast 2 to 4 inches of rain started.

This is the main entrance, very nicely done. Just inside the front gate you come to the hothouse where a number of tropical species are housed.

It was pretty cool outside so there was a good layer of condensation on the glass, steamy inside. If you wear glasses as I do, they also fog up instantly as you walk in and it takes a while for them to warm up, by which time I felt like I was back home again.
It was great to see some of these trees live after having seen many in photos on the net for years.
 Pyracantha ca1955

 Hinoki cypress ca1975

 This shows the general arrangement around the garden; big block walls and plinths. The trees are enclosed in plastic boxes, presumably just for the winter for a little extra protection. There are sheets to put on the front too, I guess for extremes in weather.

 Trident maple ca 1945   Beautiful flowing root over rock

 Japanese white pine

 Celtis sinensis ca 1950  This shows the versatility of this species - growing outdoors here in the US NW as well as subtropical Brisbane. This tree is a model I'm using in the development of my yamadori Celtis  stumps.

 Western Hemlock ca 1930. Great tree and really good to see a local native species as bonsai.

 Beautiful Chinese elm Penjing and the oldest tree is only ca 1980.

 An American (Eastern) Larch ca 1880

 European olive also ca 1880. This one hasn't had the trunk chop transition managed well but still a great tree and so old.

 This one I've been seeing in pictures it seems forever. The rootstock is Sierra juniper but because the SJ has pretty scatty foliage it has been over grafted with Chinese Juniper. The trunk goes back to the year 990 and the foliage 1970. You won't see many older than this one. I've just been trimming the foliage on my small sergents careful not to shear but cut into the stems under the surface layer. The 'bubble' foliage styling on this SJ/CJ is a beautiful natural style compared to the often seen flattened pads, and must take about a week full time each time it needs attention.

 Another Chinese elm with amazing ramification and only ca 1970.

 Blue atlas cedar ca 1945

 Catlin elm ca 1970

 Coast redwood ca 1957. Very pleased to see this one as I have just recently started to grow a few. Here it is in classic natural upright style.

 Another Eastern larch ca 1830.

 Korean yew  ca 1500

 Bougainvillea ca 1950, from the hot house.