Archived goals and new issues

Just do it!

Just do it!

Well well! Another year went by and so much has happened. New families were made, some families fell apart; some new friends have earned the title of “friend”, some not; some bonsai were styled for good and some need time to mature.

I did have 4 goasl for 2013 and I achieved at least 3 of them, well it would be all four if I included doing more bonsai in my goals instead of restyling my garden which was a complete failure.

Starting in January with the first session at the Università del bonsai, then finding Nicola online and immediately booking  a workshop for the end of March. In May my first article was published on Bonsai Empire and in June I visited the Swiss bonsai show in Lugano. Summer passed up to the first week of September which was the highlight of my year:  Bonsai Summer Festival in Fai della Paganella. Only one week, but boy did we ever have fun! Not only did I learn a lot about complementary tags all around bonsai art, like presentation, accent plants, bonsai pots, and much more, but also, and most importantly I made a whole new group of friends that like me appreciate bonsai as they are and not for their monetary value or winning potential. I am so grateful to Paolo who managed to introduce me to this new world of bonsai without prizes, seems weird but in my opinion it’s more peaceful and in tune with the whole idea of bonsai itself.
After this wonderful event the wheel started to turn. Articles were published, trees were styled, new enthusiasts were known, well… I had to work more on PR rather than concentrating on my goals, but I did find the time to achieve some other goals.

Another goal reached is to lose weight, and although I gained some kilos this holiday season I am still very motivated to do more for my figure. And last but absolutely not least: learning Japanese. This is one of the main goals for next year as well. I am going to Japan in May 2014 and it’s very important to be able to understand the basics of conversation, or, if at all possible, to understand what Fujikawa San will say.

postit

Talking about new goals, since not all goals have been achieved in 2013, I will not be setting my goals too high for this coming year, although they are indeed demanding: 1) Learn more Japanese;2) Lose more weight and 3) Write more on my blogs and for other bonsai magazines. The highlight in 2014 would be the trip to Japan. I am so excited about it, as are all my bonsai friends who are already asking me to bring home this and that!! I am hoping for the best and I am absolutely positive that no matter what Fujikawa San and Björn will teach me, it will be an amazing experience.
For the rest, I will follow my new styled tree and care for some new species, visit the Roku Shun-Ten, participate at the Swiss New Talent, and maybe visit more shows in Europe as I did in 2013. Of course, there will be more workshops with Nicola and I hope to be able to visit Paolo in Turin.

Hope to be able to achieve all of my goals and more importantly learn more about bonsai and related arts!

…love, Melanie!

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Casual friday: viaggio in Giappone

This post is about Japan but also about an Italian blog I am following to learn Japanese. The owner of the blog, Federica Ercole, is Japan fan but not only. I love her blog and already learned a lot with her method. She is now in Japan and she write about her journey.

The text is in Italian but I hope that you can still enjoy her Fotos.

http://hanamiblog.net/viaggio-giappone-prima-parte/

…love, Melanie!

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Learn Japanese with bonsai

I am learning japanse, yes it’s crazy, yes it’s difficult, yes it’s time consuming, but if I want to understand something on my tripp to Japan, there’s no way out…. I have to learn.

The best way to learn a language in my opinion is by having fun. You have to understand your grammar and also vocabolary, and of course the writing: hiragana, katakana and kanji. Yes my friends! 3 different calligraphy! Crazy eh?

Here some example:
したくさ shitakusa
ぶんじんぎ bunjingi
けんがい kengai
じた jita

If someone can give me the correct kanji for those one’s,

…love, Melanie!

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Casual Friday: The Art of Sumi-e painting

Ink and wash painting originally developed in China.
The Sumi-e brush painting of Japan has it’s origins in traditional Chinese painting.
In China and Japan, calligraphy and painting were traditionally considered one and the same. The same brush strokes that were used in writing were also used in traditional Chinese and Japanese painting (source: The Helpful Art Teacher)

Here a couple of examples.

bild1 bild3 bild4 bild5 bild6bild8

…love, Melanie!

Shin gyo so

The first time I heard this term I was fascinated by the sound of it: “shin gyo so”…it sounds so poetic, so mysterious. And then someone tried to explain its meaning to me, and I didn’t understand a thing! Having a western mindset we are prone to learn from textbooks, from theoretical rules which make it difficult to find the “right” meaning for this term. I will try to explain it in my own way. Let me tell you that it comes from old China and has been adapted in Japan for the traditional Arts as tea ceremony, ikebana, shodo, but also in architecture for the structure of houses as well as in gardening layouts. This term can be found also in Karate, Kyudo, Bushido and much more. I think “shin gyo so” is omnipresent in almost every Japanese form of art.

But what is “shin gyo so” really? Well, I am unable to explain it in a philosophical or intellectual sort of way, but from my observations and search, I have come to this interpretation:
Shin = formal, knowledge, elaborate, regular.
Gyo = informal, technique, partly simplified, semi-cursive.
So = free, sensitivity, greatly simplified, cursive.

I found lots of examplesthat can help understand this not so easy concept and although I would like to have more sensitivity in order to learn more, I have to start from the regular basic. My idea of “shin gyo so” is pretty much what Sensei Fukita explained at his Demo/Workshop: “Knowledge, technique and sensibility are the three ingredients for an excellent bonsai artist.” Therefore I see knowledge as shin, technique as gyo and sensibility as so!
pots_shingyoso</a

On the other hand my Sensei Nicola Crivelli explained it to me in relation to the bonsai pot: Shin –formal – for all conifer mostly pine, styles like Chokkan and Moyogi and unglazed pots with rigid lines as rectangular and squared ones can be. Gyo – informal – for deciduous but also some slender, feminine shimpaku junipers; for Kengai and han-kengai style and sometimes also Moyogi; for glazed, oval, soft and sinous pots. So – free – refers for shitakusas and kusamonos but also to bunjin pine, for round and irregular pots.

shin gyo so

As you can see this chart is not complete (some styles are missing, the pots feet are missing, and some other pot forms are also missing), but as a beginner it seems promising and helps me to choose the right pot for my plants.

Shin gyo so can also refer to Shodo (calligraphy) as Shin for regular, gyo for semi-cursive and so for cursive

shingyoso_shodo

In Kyudo (the art of archery) Shin Gyo So can be defined as follows:
Shin means following the truth. It means that the fundamentals of shooting should be diligently and scrupulously followed.
Gyo means carrying out the truth. It means that the shooting should obey true principles.
So means form as nature. It means that the shooting should be natural and in harmony with all things.
(Source: Kyudo Genève)

This is a very rudimental way to explain the principal of shin gyo so (doesn’t is sound great?).

…love, Melanie!

The Art of Kusamono

Ever since I started out with Bonsai I wondered what those grasses and weeds were doing near the bonsai? In fact for a neophyte it’s not immediately clear and if you don’t ask, nobody will give you an answer. To find out you could take a workshop or a private course or a University course as I am doing.
A couple of elements in the Tokonome: the main tree, the scroll and the shitakusa

A couple of elements in the Tokonoma: the main tree, the scroll and the shitakusa

Why should a small little pot with some green inside be a companion to the tree? This companion plant is not really a Kusamono but it’s called Shitakusa (“shita” meaning under, below and “kusa” meaning grass, weed) and it evokes the season in which the tree is exposed. A flowery Shitakusa evokes spring, an airy grass evokes the summer, and a rusty, brown grass evokes the fall, just as grass with fruits will. I am still very new to the Bonsai world but this can be a big help when you visit the next Bonsai show. Also; sorry, but no Bonsais in this post folks!
This is one of Nicola Crivelle juniper's. It shows it in the Tokonoma at every season of the year. Guess which season?

This is one of Nicola “Kitora” Crivelli juniper. He shows it in the Tokonoma at every season of the year. Guess which season?

Back to Kusamono which, by the way, is displayed alone in the Tokonoma with a Tenpai (small little figure) and/or a Kakejiku (Japanese scroll). It’s very important in Japanese Bonsai art to display the tree when it’s finished and has matured to its best. So, for instance, if you have to show a juniper, which is always green, in winter it’s a good idea to have a nice Shitakusa that gives a wintery feeling and maybe a Kakejiku picturing a snowed mountain. The same applies to Kusamonos. Again, it’s displayed alone as the main item with a Tenpai and/or a Kakejiku only when it’s mature; at least 3-5 years old.
This Kusamono is showed alone. The scroll evokes the melting snow and the cute tenpai (the litte badger figure) evokes the end of lethargy

Kusamono are showed alone. The scroll evokes that is still cold and the cute tenpai (the litte badger figure) evokes the end of lethargy. Spring!!

At the Swiss Bonsai Show I went to last May, Paolo Giai gave a demonstration of Kusamono and I was thrilled to try this at home myself. Kusamono (“mono” meaning object, thing) is a composition of different grasses, so at first you have to be sure that the grasses come from the same area: swamp, alps, lakes, dry areas and so on. Basically it’s a hint of a piece of nature that you could find in the wild! Ideally, it would be displayed in a round, shallow pot because in the course of the years the front may change, but there are other typologies of Kusamono; on a plate, exposed roots or as mentioned before, in a round pot.
Paolo Giai with his finished Kusamono

Paolo Giai with his finished Kusamono

the same Kusamono a couple of months later

the same Kusamono a couple of months later

The soil is a mixture (in ratio 50/50) of waste of sieved Akadama and universal soil, also sieved. A small amount of 3-5 mm Akadama soil will be placed at the bottom of the pot for drainage purposes. Kusamono are not fixed with wire and will be placed in a shadowy area of the garden, not in full sun. Fertilization is done in moderation with a liquid fertilizer on a ratio of 3/9/9 plus microelements 2 times a year to avoid a speedy growth and not to lose the smallness of the leafs. A re-pot is made every 2-3 years depending on the composition.
Make sure to choose grasses that aren’t too flashy, with small flowers and small fruits. Lastly: the compositions are endless!! So go out in the wild and collect or take some inspirations or you can do as I did and go buy the plants at your next door gardening shop.
This is very little, very rudimental information about how to create and cultivate Kusamono and here is my first composition:
Fragaria vesca (wild strawberry, Paolo gave it to me as a gift, thank you pal), a Calamagrostis acutiflora (Reed Grass) and Epimedium x versic (Bicolor barrenwort).
My very first Kusamono

My very first Kusamono

What do you think of my very first Kusamono composition?
…love, Melanie!!
PS: I will like to thank Nicola for giving me permision to use his pictures as an example.