Author Topic: Bonsai pottery  (Read 3299 times)

BonsaiEngineer1493

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Bonsai pottery
« on: January 18, 2013, 08:33 PM »
Hey forum,

I was watching Lindsay Farr's World of Bonsai series and they had a couple of series on Bonsai pottery in Japan. It seems like Bonsai artist are very knowledgeable in pottery as well. Usually I observe the pot's age being directly proportional to the age of the Bonsai. For example, an old pot is placed underneath a old Bonsai tree. However, I'm not sure if every Bonsai artist follows this style. In short, I realize that pots are essential to the art of Bonsai. However, the series was filmed in Japan and China; therefore, I am curious to find out if Bonsai pottery in America holds the same significance?

I currently live home because college is 45 mins away. My personal experience while watching my mother repot her plants was not so interesting. She never used a fancy handmade clay pot. It was always cheap plastic, which was usually bought from home depot. This is new to me so I would also like to know what kind of pots do bonsai artist in America use; for example, internationally bought from Japan or locally from American pot artist?

Thanks,
Nick
 

Dan W.

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Re: Bonsai pottery
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2013, 11:19 PM »
Hi Nick,

You've definitely got the enthusiasm to get you on a good start. :) American bonsai artists do many things, but they do use mostly traditional bonsai pots. Some have and use old pots, but there are also many well made pots by japanese, European and American potters. Here are some links to look at: http://www.mc2pottery.com/bonsaigallery.html# -- http://www.ikerbonsaipots.com/ -- http://www.redwing.net/~daalms/ -- http://www.langbonsai.com/
These are all American potters... and only a few that I had links to off hand.

I think one of the best things you could do is visit the International Bonsai Arboretum in Rochester: http://www.internationalbonsai.com/

And the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at the US National Arboretum in DC: http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/collections/bonsai.html

Both of these should be fairly close to you. :)
 

GastroGnome

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Re: Bonsai pottery
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2013, 12:31 AM »
Engineer,
If you want to really see what pots Americans have been using, pick up the three National Exhibition books.  While the pottery descriptions and origins aren't completely telling(for example, "Japanese-Tokoname Ware" is like saying "American-Midwest")
Dont get me wrong I KNOW for a fact its not for a lack of desire to present that information, but a lack of the info itself being available.  They do give a good idea of general trends an zeitgeist in pottery choices.  Just a sidenote, it's not necessarily age that makes the difference in those pot choices the Japanese make.  It's quality.  The dignity of the tree should be matched by the dignity of the pot.  In many cases that is an old high quality Chinese antique, but in others it's a Syuzan or a Tofukuji that's only 40, 50, 60 years old.  I have a few images of trees in pots like that up on my site JapaneseBonsaiPots.net.
Ryan
 

cbobgo

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Re: Bonsai pottery
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2013, 06:37 PM »
to answer your specific question about matching the age of the pot to the age of the tree, I have never heard anyone mention that before as a specific guideline in pot selection.

I think a better match than using age, would be using quality.  The higher quality the tree is, the higher quality the pot should be.  And sometimes older pots are higher quality, but there are lower quality older pots too.

- bob
 

Don Dunn

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Re: Bonsai pottery
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2013, 03:43 AM »
I am pretty new to Bonsai and I may be wrong and probably am. It seems to me that a lot of people think that if it's Japanese then it is automatically better. I was talking to a gentleman today about junipers and it seemed that he did not want a particular type because it was not a Japanese Juniper. Is it better because it came from Japan, maybe. If you have the money to burn then you can purchase a $1,500.00 singed Japanese pot. Maybe if you have been into Bonsai for many years you could tell the difference between that one and a $50.00 pot. I can't and probably never will be able  to because I can't afford that. I would even think twice about spending $50.00 on a pot. I like quality and try  to get quality when I can but if you drop a $1,500.00 dollar pot it breaks just like the $50.00 pot. Does the tree grow better in the expensive pot? I'm sorry but I'm old and that's the way I think.
But you know if I came into a ton of money my opinion would promptly change. LOL
Side note : I love Japanese style. My back yard is all done in Japanese landscape with a large Koi pond.
 

John Kirby

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Re: Bonsai pottery
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2013, 11:21 PM »
Don, missed you at BIB Show. Lot's of good pots in the show many of the good ones are Antique Chinese or Japanese. My philosohy is that the pot and the tree need to compliment each other.  How you get to that is a decision that you make for yourself. I had four trees in the show, the most expensive pot I had was a $100 Chinese 'duck' pot. There were some hogh dollar antique pots, and it was pretty obvious which pots were old and which were new. Hope you had a good visit to the show.
 

rockm

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Re: Bonsai pottery
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2013, 01:49 PM »
The thought that the pot must match the age of the tree has been voiced by some Japanese bonsaiists. The thought--and it's pretty valid thought--is that the bonsai has a patina of age, so the pot should approximate that same aged patina to form a cohesive image. A shiny, brand new fresh-from-the-kiln pot (even of the highest quality from a respected potter) wouldn't quite match the aged beauty of a 300 year-old tree placed in it. It would look like a distinguished older man wearing newly made Justin Bieber pants...

Pots gain a patina over the decades as they're used. Fertilizer, rain, sun and dirt can stain and fade glazes and deepen colors and irregularities in the pot to pleasing tones.

In the west, pots do have the same resonance. However, we have no 200, 300 or 400 year old bonsai containers to use, so we make due. The best American and European potters have studied what makes Japanese and Chinese pots work visually and are making excellent pots with sensitivity to bonsai esthetics.

A good pot is a good pot regardless of its origins. I've seen American and British bonsai pots that are better made and more attractive than many middle to top line Japanese tokoname pots.

Don't make the mistake of comparing houseplant and gardend containers to good bonsai containers. There is no equivalency there. Bonsai pots are not only supposed to be functional horticultural vessels, but also artistic elements. Bonsai pots have been called the "frame" for bonsai art. I think they're more than that, setting a mood and providing an emotional and physical foundation for the trees in them.

Also don't make the mistake of going too cheap on pots. Instead of buying three cheap pots to display your trees, buy single quality pots over time. Yeah, good pots are more expensive (although good ones aren't all that prohibitive), but, like good tools, they're also mostly permanent additions to your collection. They don't die and don't break down --unless you're a klutz with them. They can be used with a number of trees. Good pots are an investment and actually improve with age.
 

Don Dunn

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Re: Bonsai pottery
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2013, 02:27 PM »
Thanks John
 I did have a great time, lots of beautiful trees and pots. If I had known what you look like and I saw you I would have for sure said hello. Where you there Saturday or Sunday, maybe both? I would liked to have known which trees where yours.
I do think that is the correct attitude to match the pot to the tree and I am trying to learn how to do that. I think I need to pay more attention to that when I look at trees. I learn from talking and listening to people. I think I could tell age by the patina but not by the style they used at a particular time or a specific artist. That is a whole other skill that I think would take several years to learn well.
At the show next month I plan on purchasing at least one more tree and while I am there I will be looking much closer at the pots.
Thanks for the help John and every one
 

John Kirby

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Re: Bonsai pottery
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2013, 02:35 PM »
Don, good perspective, I think Rock has explained well. I had four trees in the show, all in the small tree room. The sumo Japanese maple in the tree of the month thread, a shohin trident maple in a multicolored pot by Bunzan, a little Princess Persimmon (10 little persimmons or so) in a painted pot (Foxes Wedding) by Tosui, and a really contorted little Red Pine in a Duck Pot.

I was one of the guys (white hair, coat and tie) helping record the auction sales.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 02:37 PM by John Kirby »
 

Don Dunn

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Re: Bonsai pottery
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2013, 03:02 PM »
John
  I do remember the persimmon tree.  I think I do remember you. You where setting back to the wall behind J.T.. If that was you then I remember you winning/purchasing a couple of nice trees.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 03:08 PM by Don Dunn »
 

John Kirby

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Re: Bonsai pottery
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2013, 04:10 PM »
Don. Jonas ended up with a couple of really nice trees, I bought one, then another club member bought it from me.
 

BonsaiEngineer1493

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Re: Bonsai pottery
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2013, 04:21 PM »
Thank you all for such a detailed explanation so it looks like a lot of character is portrayed in the pot. Which artist would you guys recommend?
 

John Kirby

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Re: Bonsai pottery
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2013, 05:05 PM »
Depends on your tree! Dale Cochoy here does some really nice pots. So do Ron Lang, Sarah Raynor, Erin in the UK, etc. Recently, the past few years, I have been buying older pots from Japan or China. Predominately for the patina and the appearance of age.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Re: Bonsai pottery
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2013, 10:33 PM »
Matching or expressing the age of the tree with the pot is something I've been working on over the last couple years too.  Tough to do with American pots because they're relatively newer...haven't really even seen one with what I'd consider to be a good patina...though several potters are well positioned to get there...

Ryan found a nice older Chinese pot for a black pine after a fairly exhaustive (picky) search.  I wrote about it last weekend. Funny, I love the pot, but now the tree isn't ready for it!

http://nebaribonsai.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/new-old-chinese-pot/
 

rockm

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Re: Bonsai pottery
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2013, 09:53 AM »
"Tough to do with American pots because they're relatively newer...haven't really even seen one with what I'd consider to be a good patina...though several potters are well positioned to get there..."

I've found it's not all that tough to do, especially with North American collected trees. I put a flattop bald cypress in a big Ron Lang oval that works pretty well. The wood fired pot, although only ten years old or so, is developing some patina, but I think it worked well from the start.

American and European potters know they can't really compete with older Japanese pots' age, so they're working with glazes that look old or weathered to begin with. In extreme cases, those glazes can look odd, but done well, they're very easy to use with older trees.