Saturday, December 06, 2008

Reinventing the wheel

I wasn’t happy with the very light colour of fired raku clay I used for making my bonsai pots and I decided to mix it with an iron oxide to make it darker. An oval pot for one of my junipers made of this clay is shown on the first picture. I had a small leftover of this clay and thought what if I smudge it on the surface of another pot to make it look dark while it is made of the usual light clay. Little I knew that it’s a basic pottery technique and the clay I smudged is called slip. However, it is usually diluted to consistency of a glaze and painted on with a brush. The pot that resulted from my first use of slip is shown on the second picture and it will house a small Black Pine.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

27th Annual Show of the School of Bonsai

Three days ago I went to the 27th annual show of the School of Bonsai, Sydney. I understand its primary aim is to showcase the work if the school’s students, but their work is quite uninspiring. Last year’s show was similar, but Ray Nesci’s private collection was opened for public viewing and it has a number of really beautiful trees. This year, a small suiseki display put up by George Reisiss was more impressive than the bonsai trees. The group of trees shown on the picture popped up at this show and at the show of Bonsai Society of Australia this year. It is composed well, but some of its tree trunks have ugly scars which diminish its aesthetic value. Bonsai of this standard is pretty much as good as it gets at Sydney exhibitions this year.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dillwynia sieberi drawing

This is my drawing of a shrub I studied for two years. Its name is Dillwynia sieberi. The drawing shows an inflorescence. The flowers are pollinated by bees. Marked "a" on the drawing is the chamber formed by two ‘keel’ petals housing pistil and stamens. Marked "b" is the location of nectaries and marked "c" is one of the ‘wing’ petals. When a bee lands on the flower in search of nectar it pushes the 'wing' petals which open up the chamber to expose pistil and stamens for pollination.

I am growing a Dillwynia plant in a shallow pot in my garden, but I don't think this species makes good bonsai material.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Bonsai Society of Australia Show: 物の哀れありません

I went to the Annual Spring Show of the Bonsai Society of Australia. There were some decent trees on display (like the Japanese Black Pine on the picture). However, I didn’t see anything exquisite or superb. There was not one tree that evoked “物の哀れ” (mono no aware). My wife encouraged me to buy an Azalea with purple flowers, labeled ‘Redwings’. It was inexpensive and therefore will need a lot of work.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Resurrection of Pink Serissa

At the end of last year, I got a lovely little Pink Serissa (Serissa foetida). I was just beginning to consider how to train it as bonsai (left picture), when my dog Bella ate it to the ground. The stump of the main stem soon rotted away and I lost all hope for the plant's survival, when suddenly a leaf bud sprouted from something that looked like a surface root. Look at this plant now (right picture)!

Thursday, August 21, 2008



Thursday, August 07, 2008


It is 08.08.08 and I decided to make an entry just for the hack of it. It is ironic that today I am working on my pollination paper (addressing reviewer's comments). It is the same paper that has been mentioned in this blog more than three years ago on 15.05.05. Nothing has changed and this is how pathetic I am. On the picture is the mamei pot I made. It is for the smallest kind of bonsai.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My first matcha-chawan

While dealing with unsatisfactory bonsai pots I tried to make a tea bowl or chawan. After six weeks and three firings it came out fine. I am even thinking of flogging it on Ebay. It is a traditional tea bowl style used for serving thick tea or koicha during the Japanese tea ceremony. I have shown it to a couple of Japanese and they liked it. It also sparkled my interest in other clay utensils for the Japanese tea ceremony, especially ceramic tea caddies or chaire. I also started drinking matcha or Japanese powdered green tea. I like it and don't ask me why.

Bonsai shelf extended

After puting up the shelf I realised that I will run out of shelf space this spring. Today, I added a lower shelf and it should keep me out of trouble for a while. I am thinking of going to Japan to see the Kokufuten bonsai exhibition in Tokyo and the bonsai village in Omiya. I hope this plan works. Finding cheap flight tickets could be a start.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bonsai bench completed

Today I put up a bench for my bonsai plants. Hopefully, this will stop my dog from destroying smaller plants. We shall see!

Monday, May 12, 2008

My best Bonsai pot so far

Last week, after a series of unsuccessful attempts, I got another bonsai pot finished. It is 18 x 13 x 6 cm, made of buff raku trachyte clay with some black iron oxide added for darker colour. It was bisque fired first, then glazed and fired to stoneware. It is slab-built and therefore hand made in true sence. I made it simple and rugged, which would suit a Japanese Black Pine or similar.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Lost half of my potential Bonsai

By now, I lost half of my smaller plants because of my dog Bella. She was so merciless to some of them that I couldn't even find what was left of them. I had tears in my eyes. To finish on the positive note my Chinese Flowering Quince is flowering again and I am going to make bonsai shelves to protect them from Bella.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Chinese name seal

A couple of days ago I made a Chinese name seal for myself. It has four characters rendered in Zhou style. First character means "thick", second means "plum" and together they mean Bird Cherry (Prunus padus). Third character means "river" and the fourth means "seal of". "Bird Cherry river" is the meaning of my surname in Komi language. Komi people lived along that river before the area became a part of Russia in 16th century. There are subspecies of Bird Cherry native to Japan and China and they are used for bonsai.