Workshop in december

This last december I had the opportunity to have tree workshop by my teacher. The first one was on a pinus sylvestis (scots pine), the second on a juniperus chinensis (juniper) and the third was on a picea abies (spruce) owned by Nicola himself.

Normaly I have an idea about the first styling on my trees, but in this case it was a little weared because he purchased 2 trees at a local nursery on my request. Off course he send me some pictures to be sure I will be happy with the material, but I had no idea about the real potential and let’s face it, his the teacher, I had to be happy. Would you contradict your teacher?

First: pinus sylvestris.
For me pines are the top of bonsai art and I consider them way to advanced for my knowledge at this moment, but I wanted a pinus sylvestris in order to study the growth of this species and observe the developpment through the seasons and years. It came out that another Nicola’s student trade this pine with better material not so long ago. He collected this pine 2 years ago in the Ticino mountans and it was really easy to collect it since it was on a rock. I was glad to hear his story.
pinus sylvestris before pinus sylvestris after

Second: juniperus chinensis
The juniper was a bit trickier. First it had been styled already by somone else, and second it has a really facinating deadwood that had to been worked on. I never worked deadwood before! Well, yes some jin here and there but nothing really big, and although it is not so big surface, for me was ideed a big deal: dealing with a drill, fireing with a burner, protecting the livewood, etc…. learned a lot and become confidend with new tools. And off course wireing, wireing, and wireing. But I am really pleased with the result.

juniper before juniper after

Third: picea abies
The big december finale was wireing a spruce that Nicola had to prepare for an upcoming show. It was challenging, also because my teacher did not accept mistakes on his tree! And because it was really lot to wire, we worked all day and managed to finish at 5 PM. My fingers were acking, my back was killing me and I was tired but I was really really happy to archive (together with Nicola) this huge task. First time ever that I wired for a hole day such a big tree.

abetebefore img_8119

This december was intense but really instructive and I feel more confident with each new material I came across. The next workshop will be in the end of january and till then I have to practice on other sort of material such as, 10€ material from the supermarket, or wireing thiker trunk on a larix and other sort of low-quality material, this is the best way to learn: practice, practice, practice.

…love, Melanie

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Creating a forest out of almost nothing

Last week I went to Nicola’s for another workshop. We worked on an abies picea or spruce, I created a Kusanomo, some Shitakusa, we did some autumn work on two shohin, a zelkova and an acer burgeniamum.

It takes me up to 2.30 hours to travel to Nicola’s place and during the long way by car I always review, or try to review, what happened to the plant since the last time I went, and I try to figure what will happen to the new plant I am bringing for the first time. But at the end of the day I am always amazed about the results and my first ideas are a far cry from the end result..
This workshop was focused on “Allegra” a 3-tree forest, well of course it’s no forest yet, but one day it will be one. You may wonder about the name; well all my trees have a name! Lastly they may stay with me for a long time, so might as well give them names like pets. Funny? Weird? As Oscar Wilde said There is method to my madness! I bread cats for many years and the association with which I was affiliated gives a “letter” to the member to name they kittens for each year, so 2012 was V and W, 2013 are X, Y, Z and 2014 will be A. With this in mind, you can always come back and review the cat by the name given. They do this also in pedigree dogs in some countries. With bonsai, I am doing the same with my trees!  I started in 2010 with bonsai, for me the “A year” unfortunately t’is not the year of birth of the tree, but the year of purchase. Long story short, Allegra is with me since 2010.
Ok, back to the topic. This abies picea is vigorous, but the first style she had was at the very beginning of my bonsai life, so nothing special, difficult to find a real style with a 3-tree composition. The nice thing about Nicola is that he can “see something” in everything, even in such a difficult raw material as this one, for me it’s still very hard to foresee anything no matter how the tree looks at the beginning.
I believe we did a good job indeed and she is on her way to becoming an outstanding bonsai.

Next step will be to get 2 other spruce in the same diameter and height to give the composition more depth and dimension. I visualize her in the future on a stone plate. After all I am travelling so far to learn and understand how a composition has to look in the end and alas, I did learn something!

…love, Melanie!

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