Bonsai Study Group Forum

General Category => Evergreen Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: Dale Cochoy on September 20, 2011, 02:41 PM

Title: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 20, 2011, 02:41 PM
This is a long story with quite a few pictures so please bear with me...

Cheryl Manning was a headliner speaker during the 2002 ABS seminar in Milwaukee . During the convention she restyled a San Jose Juniper that she had shipped from California . She had been working on it for two years and had repotted it before shipping it to Milwaukee. She gave a good background on the tree and supplied several photos and drawings from before the convention.
I won the tree in the raffle during the banquet and I have been keeping it in NE Ohio for the last ten years. It was time for a serious rework of wiring, styling, woodwork and repotting. During the time I have had it I have repotted it twice and rewired it twice with trimming cutbacks and  carving cleaning and enhancement but it was due again ( seriously) plus the pot was disintegrating!

So, on with the background.....
Cheryl was a member of John Nakas group of students/friends in the Nanpukai group who met once a month. Each month a tree was donated and worked on at the group . In 2000 Cheryl donated an old field grown San Jose Juniper that had been in a pot since 1992 for John to style and be worked on by a few other students. Below are some pictures that Cheryl gave me with some explanations along with Johns original drawing for the future of the bonsai.

Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 20, 2011, 02:43 PM
Here is a picture of Johns original drawing  for his styling.
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 20, 2011, 02:50 PM
Cheryl grew-on the tree for two years and after it was healthy and established well she decided to change the front from Johns original style. She also potted it into a  fancyfooted wide-rimmed Chinese pot and shipped it to Milwaukee for her demonstration.
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 20, 2011, 02:57 PM
This is a drawing that Cheryl did for her demo showing how she intended to update the styling with quite a bit of carving and showing it planted on a slab in the future ( which I ruled out here in NE Ohio summers and overwintering).

The only picture I have of the tree after I had been growing it for a few years is this one I took with our new JRT puppy about 7 years ago.
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 20, 2011, 03:10 PM
This early June of 2011 the tree was overgrown, and had an unhealthy branch and a few dead twigs and seriously in need of a re-wire.  The soil needed replaced and the root zone needed serious attention. The Chinese pot needed to be replaced as it was slowly disintegrating over the last few years. In fact, I have NEVER seen a pot in this bad of shape and still be able to pick it up without it falling apart!
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 20, 2011, 03:21 PM
I gave the tree to my student to rewire and do any styling he felt it needed but to keep it as close to the artists original design as possible and to clean up the carving and dead wood a bit as he saw fit. No time limit, except that it needed to be repotted in Fall this year before the pot and root damage became even worse. Plus, I needed time to look for a new pot. He was learning to carve and experimenting with his Dremel tools and I liked the outcome. He also did an Excellent job of rewiring the tree. He started to put a jin/carving coating mixture ,which used a white paint on the carving, which I instructed him to stop doing before he finished. I did not want the large amount of dead wood to be too glaring with white paint. .
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 20, 2011, 03:32 PM
If you look at the above pictures of the inside of the old pot you will see that the actual bottom of the pot that contained the roots is MUCH smaller in size than the overall size of the large-rimmed pot. I wanted a new pot that was the size and depth of the actual root containment area. I found two pots in my supplies that would work fine. One was an unglazed Chinese rectangle which I have thought about glazing and refiring in my kiln . The glaze would be a matt granite colored glaze. It is glazed and sitting ready to fire this winter. But, I needed to get the job done and found an EXCELLENT pot for the tree that had perfect size requirements but it was planted. So, I did some tree repottings until I could free up the perfect pot. It is a Sara Rayner oval in a dark brown with a runny rutile glaze on it. Pefect!
We'll see ,in the spring ,how the Chinese pot looks after I refire it, if it survives the high fire re-fire!
I took a few pictures of the repotted tree sitting in the remainder of the original pot. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 20, 2011, 03:38 PM
I spent SEVERAL hours brushing and washing  the carved wood paint finish until all the old finish was removed. I actually like the color of the untreated wood very well but wanted to do some burning enhancements using a torch. I also did quite a bit of 'picking' and touchup carving of areas with some hand tools I use quite a bit.
Here are some pictures of the tools I use for this. Some are hand-made.
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 20, 2011, 03:47 PM
While I was working I noticed something I hadn't ever noticed before. There was a large saw kerf on one of the dead wood spikes that I assume was from one of the two original stylings. The only thing I could think of why I never noticed it before was that it may have been originally filled with cut past and old jin fluid had disquised it. I had never completely stripped the dead wood to this point before and I think it finally washed out. The more I looked at it the more it stared me in the face!!
I did not want to fill it with just epoxy or Gorilla Glue or epoxy with sawdust mixed in , as I do sometimes, since they would all show under the finish once done. I decided to try something new. I mixed some DEER ANTLER DUST ( from a previous knife-making project) with the epoxy and fill the kerf so that it would match well once covered with a whiter jin fluid.
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 20, 2011, 03:58 PM
After doing some burning enhancement I used a mix of 50% water and 50% lime sulfur ( no paint or black ink included) as a dead wood colorant. I wanted it thin and light and easily washed away. Most of it is already gone after several rains and I think by next spring I'll have a nice natural looking dead wood effect with a slight gray tint and some burning enhancement showing nicely.
I took a few evening pictures of the front and back with a quick displat set-up on my back deck/picnic table.
The tree is freshly potted and cleaned and jin colored in these shots. It's been about 3 months since rewired.
I hope you enjoyed the story of the John Naka/Cheryl Manning tree update after 12 years from a start.
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Ed Trout on September 20, 2011, 06:25 PM

Thanks Dale,

   Great story ! Thanks for posting

  Ed
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: JRob on September 20, 2011, 10:17 PM
Love this post.

JRob

Ps - Who is the potter of the container for the accent plant? Thanks
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: MatsuBonsai on September 21, 2011, 08:37 AM
Dale,

The tree has a great story.  Thanks for sharing. 

I'm curious about the pot.  I've never seen a pot disintegrate like that.  Do you think it was the freeze/thaw cycle of your winter storage, not fired high enough, other?
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 21, 2011, 11:02 AM
I should probably mention that the overall height including pot is 24 inches, and the width of the foliage is 23 inches.

Thank you Ed.

JRob, the small pot is by an old Japanese potter who has passed on. I got this pot, and a few others about 20 years ago. All have frogs crawling on them. His name escapes me right at this minute.

Matsu, The answer is YES to your questions. IMO your AVERAGE slip-cast  Chinese and/or Japanese pots are not overly fired and are often of not very high quality clays.  Yes, the freeze/thaw cycles here do certainly effect pot. I've had some very expensive pots broken or cracked during the winters over the years. The price of doing bonsai! . I should mention that this happened over the span of about 3 years. This tree, since it did come from S. California, has been overwintered every year in a styrofoam box or large shallow nursery container with holes in bottom, a little mulch under pot and then mulched up over pot. This is how i also overwinter other more touchy items here like Satsuki, tridents, Bald Cypress,Etc.
Here are a couple of poor, but explanatory photos I took one year while moving everything into the greenhouse about Thanksgiving. BTW, the greenhouse is unheated so normally it is only a few degrees above outside temps, unless it's severely cold and then I run a small 1,500 W floor heater that is hanging from one of the support posts.
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 21, 2011, 11:14 AM
JRob,
Here are some of his other pots. I'll try today to get a better picture of the one used in the shot.
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on September 21, 2011, 05:59 PM
JRob,
Here are a couple shots from today of two glazed frog  pots by the same maker. The one with the plant is the one in the picture with the San Jose Juniper.
You know, I always assumed these were by the same artist that made the unglazed ones above, but the more I look at the 'style' and the signatures I don't think so. The sigs on the glazed pots are just about  unreadable.

Further, to confuse you even more, here are two more contemporary glazed frog pots that I literally bought out of a 'barrel' full of pots at the Tokyo Green Club in 2000 for $15 each! I had 6 of these and sold 4. The stamp on these is small and unreadable also.

It just goes to show you that 'borrowing' a good bonsai pottery idea is just as popular in Japan as it is in the USA.
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Roccomp on September 27, 2011, 02:27 PM
Nice post, thanks for sharing the story & images.
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on October 04, 2011, 06:53 PM
Nice post, thanks for sharing the story & images.

Thanks,
Last progressive story post here!

D.
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: bwaynef on October 04, 2011, 09:46 PM
Wow!  This is an interesting thread.  I'm impressed by how well-documented its history is as anything else.  Some of the notes on the old pictures reads like a who's who.  I meant to comment on this earlier, but once the conversation got sidetracked to pots apparently I forgot to come back.

I'm surprised to see that Cheryl (or anyone really) would take it upon herself to choose a new front and rework Naka's work.  I just haven't seen much willingness to change a tree that's been worked on by a renowned artist.  (That's not to say that I think it was inappropriate of Cheryl to rework Naka's design ...or that its a lesser tree as a result.)  I wonder if Naka's front would still make a viable tree, or were critical branches on that tree used as jin in the new version. 

It looks like you've chosen to stick fairly close to Cheryl's design.  What factored into that decision?
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Mitch Thomas on October 05, 2011, 08:36 AM
Hi Dale
This is a very interesting thread. The documentation is amazing. I also like that the new styling has moved back towards Johns design. I think his original design was the strongest for this piece  material.

Please post more!

I really like seeing that huge Bald Cypress in the green house.

MT
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: John Kirby on October 05, 2011, 08:46 AM
I was at the 2002 ABS convention in Milwaukee. Cheryl did a great job in prepping the material for her workshop and for her Demonstration. I sat through the demonstration and the additional work she was doing outside of the demo. The tree had developed differently than I believe Naka had thought it might. When she did the work in 2002, it was obvious that she had chosen the best way to deal with the material on that day, without sending it out to grow for few more years to go back to the original design. I thought she did as nice of a demonstration that I have watched, very high quality work and well thought out.

Redesigning a John Naka tree. Why not? If you do a good job of ensuring that the provenance of the tree follows it, like a lot of the Kimura reworks of old masterpiece trees, why not? Frequently people let the old masters trees decline, get weak and die because they are unwilling to do the significant work that is frequently required to keep these trees healthy, vibrant and growing.

Dale, you snagged this one, I am not sure that you ever had a bigger smile.......
John
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Mitch Thomas on October 05, 2011, 09:42 AM
Hi John
I agree the tree had declined before it was reworked. Cheryl did a great job on the restyle with the tree she had to work with, it was a very different state when she had it. Not to mention the pressure of re doing a masters tree. As we all know this art form is fluid and constantly changing.  I just prefer the original design.

MT
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on October 05, 2011, 12:55 PM
OK, a few comments that everyone may not agree with.
I FULLY expected everyone to say they liked John Nakas original design better. But, hero worship aside, lets look at some tree facts.
First, if you look at Mr. Nakas original sketch it appears ( to me) to be VERY embellished in branch movement, spacing and trunk/rootage. This is something I commonly see in a demo pre-sketch or post demo "in the future...." sketch.

Second, if you look at the "2 years later" photo you will see a LOT of dead branches/snags. Now, I don't know if this was originally done by John Naka or these branches died during the two years. As someone who has watched Mr. Naka do a few demos I could SURELY see branches dying off post demo/original styling. In fact, a couple I've seen I truly wondered how long they stayed green! this happens with ALL of us, famous or not!

I tried to stick with Cheryls design as close as possible for a couple reasons. First off, she is a great tree designer and I liked it! ( I did extend the jin/shari over the years. )Second, the tree was in need of lots of work AND repotting in the same season. And, It's hard to tell in the sketch, but, with the dead snags/and cut off branches, I see in the 2 yr photo it is QUITE POSSIBLE that the original front simply couldn't work out? With Cheryls styling you have only two front choices as the branches sweep to one side. Also, I like both the front AND back design as it is now and could look at both as very attractive. this is not always the case.


BTW, John, Yes, I was very suprised to win the tree in the banquet raffle. If you remember, as each person won something he/she came up to claim the prize AND draw the NEXT ticket for the next item. In my case, as I won the tree I got dirty looks and comments :>) from my business partner that I was sitting next to. As I went up to draw the next winner for a FANTASTIC big Ponderosa Pine that was styled by Harold Sasaki ( If I remember right?) and I drew my partners ticket!!!! He changed his mind about me winning IMMEDIATELY!! :>)
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: bwaynef on October 05, 2011, 01:53 PM
Redesigning a John Naka tree. Why not?
That's a question I've often asked, or at least wondered.  If there's a better tree in there, why not uncover that ...just because someone with a recognizable name left it covered (or it wasn't there for him/her)?  

OK, a few comments that everyone may not agree with.
I FULLY expected everyone to say they liked John Nakas original design better. But, hero worship aside, lets look at some tree facts.

Since I was the one that brought it up, I wanted to point out that I didn't suggest Naka's design was superior.  (I tried to at least SOUND agnostic).  Your (and kirby's) comments about health/dieback answered my question about the original front also.

Again, thanks for a well-documented post.  Hope Asheville treats you well this weekend.
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: Dale Cochoy on October 05, 2011, 02:12 PM
Again, thanks for a well-documented post.  Hope Asheville treats you well this weekend.

Thanks Wayne, I hope so also. Last show of the season for me.
BTW, I'm bringing something special for the Arboretum  Bonsai collection and Arthur for Friday night.

Dale
Title: Re: Working on a San Jose Juniper that was originally styled by John Naka
Post by: John Kirby on October 05, 2011, 05:45 PM
I like Cheryl's as well, much bolder.