Author Topic: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai  (Read 25103 times)

Sorce

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 789
  • Thanked: 1 times
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #60 on: December 22, 2013, 08:00 PM »
That does seem the way here. Nurseries hosting Instructors. Clubs hosting instructors.

Maybe the question to the pro instructor then is. Which do you prefer? Your garden? Or your work in gardens everywhere?











 

JRob

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 608
  • Thanked: 3 times
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #61 on: December 22, 2013, 08:21 PM »
I'll now jump into the fray with my two cents. From my perspective there are two skill sets one needs to do bonsai. One is easily transferable through training and the other is not. The one that almost everyone can be taught is the horticultural aspect. The other is much more difficult and that is the artistic side. We can all be taught to paint and we can attempt to copy pictures of the masters but can we ourselves create a masterpiece. To me bonsai is much the same. I am fortunate that when I entered the wonderful life of bonsai I was in a position that I had disposable income. My career was at a point where I was and continue to make really good money and I could afford to buy what I wanted and study with anyone I wanted to. Had this journey begun when I was younger and more financially strapped that would not have been possible. My priorities where in other places. I want to be careful that in a thread like this we do not imply that you can not do bonsai, enjoy bonsai or be content if you are not buying expensive trees and studying with a 'professional'. In other areas of interest I have known individuals who were professionally trained, had their certifications or degrees and have not been either good teachers or very knowledgeable and certainly not qualified. We all know that not everyone with a drivers license drives well. Plenty of doctors have lost malpractice suits etc. You get the idea. For me whatever area of interest  I enter all that is needed is to study with someone who knows more than me. When I gain his knowledge I move on to someone who knows more than me and so the process continues. Personally I do not need them to have a certificate or a degree. I think we all have had or know teachers with a certification in the educational system who can not teach. I also know that I had wonderful teachers who imparted knowledge and inspired as well. I also know some parents who home school and I would have happily sent my kids to them. Others are doing their kids a dis-service. I could go on but I think I've made my point. As students of bonsai we owe it to ourselves to get the best bonsai education we can and apply what we learn and enjoy the experience. By the way from my previous threads I have been studying with Michael Hagedorn 3 weekends a year for the last 4 years. It has been a fantastic experience and I am grateful for the time I spend with him. However many of the "older" members of our club are extremely knowledgeable and give their time, talent and expertise to others in the club free of charge and I am grateful they do because of their love of bonsai and have a lot to teach those of us who are still bonsai babies. JRob
 

John Kirby

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2216
  • Thanked: 16 times
  • I really need an opposable thumb...
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #62 on: December 22, 2013, 10:32 PM »
I started a response earlier, then deleted it. There was a push, 8 or so years ago (Rob King around Philly?) to start an association of bonsai professionals. Didn't go far, hard to do in an unregulated environment. Lots of good folks out there, suggest that you pick a teacher and study with them until you feel like you aren't learning anything anymore, then move on. This is the same thing I have told new PhD's for the past 20 years. There is a huge information base out there, people can find those who interests mesh with theirs.

There are a lot of talented folks out there, find a teacher. (Can have an internet component) and study. I would suggest that people worry less about a hierarchy and more about results - better bonsai.

Anyway , I still don 't know how these folks can cobble together a living, particularly if they don 't have a major benefactor.

John
 

Owen Reich

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 888
  • Thanked: 7 times
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #63 on: December 22, 2013, 11:18 PM »
That is a good point about learning from someone and moving on to new instructors as you and JRob stated.  My concern is mainly for consumers who are misled. 
 

William N. Valavanis

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 146
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #64 on: December 22, 2013, 11:40 PM »
About ten years ago, Colin Lewis, Julian Adams, Roger Lehman and I organized to form a professional bonsai organization in the United States. We even got incorporated. One of the main purposes was to host a national bonsai exhibition in the country. Unfortunately, the organization did not get off the ground, it's a lot of work!

A few years later with the support of other bonsai professionals and hobbyists I organized the 1st US National Bonsai Exhibition in 2008. It was a success, as was the 2nd in 2010 and the 3rd in 2012. The 4th US National Bonsai Exhibition will be held on September 13-14, 2014 in Rochester, New York. Everyone is invited to participate, exhibit and support this important event in the history of bonsai in the United States.

Bill
 

Sorce

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 789
  • Thanked: 1 times
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #65 on: December 23, 2013, 05:19 AM »
I agree John.
   Better Bonsai. But the numbers of MISLED consumers is keeping that from happening on a very grand scale.
Even here no one answers the noob with a leggy S.  He has no info then, quits before needing a pro, in that scenario (happening now) "these folks" who I assume are what I call pretenders, no Passion for trees just $. They get their 15$. But the Pro instructor gets nothing. You are a pro instructor yourself yes? 

 Owen,
Please expand on misled. Mallsai?  What scenario instilled that concern?

  JRob, I thought only Jay could put 2 cents in. Lol. 

I find myself Ok with the Art. Ok with the hort. I think Owens system would help me find what I need, a teacher to blend the two. When to apply the hort to create the art.

This could be accomplished here with a calender of tasks. Like Atlanta Bonsai and Buffalo Bonsai clubs have on there site.

 I would like to see pros right threads for there respective zone, that tells when to do specific work. I think this could make for BETTER BONSAI very fast.

Example, I just learned (thanks Judy) not to cut my Hackberry past July. When timing and length of time are of so much importance, I think knowing when to act is of supreme importance. Just think of all the "when should this work be carried out?" Questions that could already be answered with said timing thread.

Boon said somewhere about how one ill timed move could add years to development. All those trees not out in shows is taking $ out of PRO pockets.

I hope the Admins will consider a permanent zone specific task calender thread.

Oh and, Hanzmann with a 5 spot! Good thread!
 
 

Chrisl

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 897
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #66 on: December 23, 2013, 10:45 AM »
Very interesting thread.  I think a pro assoc. would be great for the US.  Perhaps this is better timing as there's more interest in bonsai, and we have many more trained pros returning to the US now. 

Great idea Sorce, a timing zone for work to be done. 
 

Larry Gockley

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 275
  • Thanked: 1 times
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #67 on: December 23, 2013, 10:55 AM »
Speaking of being misled along the lines of a professional teaching organization, I can't imagine who would be the "5 th degree black belt", if you will. Someone who would be deemed qualified to instruct / teach the other " black belts".  I have been to MANY lecture demos over the past 15 years, and the one thing that stands out is that even the internationally known artists can't agree on the basics such as fertilizer, soil composition and pruning. What one artist tells you to do, another says to "never" do. At one BYOT demo, years ago, the visiting internationally known artist almost killed my tree, but at least set it back 2 or 3 years, by doing the work at the wrong time of year for that species. There are 3 or 4 artists I would pay money to visit with again, in a heartbeat, but others I would not go to see again for free. Sorry if I seem too harsh, just my opinion. The artists I would go to see again communicate their idea for the tree to the owner, and heaven forbid, actually ask  the owners permission before removing a branch / etc.  I've seen some artists drastically alter a tree, and not only not ask permission, but never even utter a word during the whole demo. Some people can teach and communicate, and some, not so much.  I get monthly  newsletters from 6 different bonsai clubs, and I see outdated info being given out all the time. To be fair, the art is growing and better ways are learned all the time. It's just that some , I guess, are more traditional than others.
 

Owen Reich

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 888
  • Thanked: 7 times
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #68 on: December 23, 2013, 05:00 PM »
I agree John.
   Better Bonsai. But the numbers of MISLED consumers is keeping that from happening on a very grand scale.
Even here no one answers the noob with a leggy S.  He has no info then, quits before needing a pro, in that scenario (happening now) "these folks" who I assume are what I call pretenders, no Passion for trees just $. They get their 15$. But the Pro instructor gets nothing. You are a pro instructor yourself yes? 

 Owen,
Please expand on misled. Mallsai?  What scenario instilled that concern?

  JRob, I thought only Jay could put 2 cents in. Lol. 

I find myself Ok with the Art. Ok with the hort. I think Owens system would help me find what I need, a teacher to blend the two. When to apply the hort to create the art.

This could be accomplished here with a calender of tasks. Like Atlanta Bonsai and Buffalo Bonsai clubs have on there site.

 I would like to see pros right threads for there respective zone, that tells when to do specific work. I think this could make for BETTER BONSAI very fast.

Example, I just learned (thanks Judy) not to cut my Hackberry past July. When timing and length of time are of so much importance, I think knowing when to act is of supreme importance. Just think of all the "when should this work be carried out?" Questions that could already be answered with said timing thread.

Boon said somewhere about how one ill timed move could add years to development. All those trees not out in shows is taking $ out of PRO pockets.

I hope the Admins will consider a permanent zone specific task calender thread.

Oh and, Hanzmann with a 5 spot! Good thread!
 

Better bonsai and greater enjoyment of bonsai are the goals I have. 

I wrote about others being misled as in a misleading teacher presenting just plain bad information.  Instances are numerous.  I've taken about 15 workshops in the past 11-12 years and many of my questions were avoided or I was given a super vague answer.  To answer your other question, yes I am a bonsai professional.  I grow pre-bonsai, teach classes (and enjoy teaching / learning from clients), style trees for $ and write a blog and articles to advance the knowledge and enjoyment of bonsai practitioners. 

I'll leave this alone.  Someone can start another thread on the matter if they like.

 

John Kirby

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2216
  • Thanked: 16 times
  • I really need an opposable thumb...
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #69 on: December 23, 2013, 05:27 PM »
I guess I find these threads interesting. As with most things with bonsai there are very few absolutes. I always get asked when people can do certain kinds of work. The answer is usually, it depends. I get asked when can you wire Japanese Black Pines? The stock answer, immediately after decandling or in winter when the tree is dormant (the needles are very tough then and can withstand wiring abuse more easily). However, if you are expert at wiring and have good hands (can wire without breaking needles or new buds) and are willing to provide aftercare, you can wire in the July to September timeframe.

Many of the trees I see brought to workshops Or demos I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. They have not been repotted, or they are in some kind of muck I have no idea if the tree will respond as expected. Professionals get paid to perform at club activities, those that are honest and tell folks what they need to do to make their trees strong enough to be worked on, don't get asked back, so they push on. However, I have also watched some highly regarded folks go through and hack trees down to a single branch and tell their students to grow the tree back, time and time again. Couple the two and you have kindling.

Anyway ab association for certified instructors and/or professionals could be helpful, but folks will still by Mallsai and other junk and hope some poor workshop leader van make a masterpiece in one hour from their lump of coal.

 

Joshua Hanzman

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 258
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #70 on: December 23, 2013, 05:31 PM »
I will share how i see it, frankly and truthfully, with no real goal in mind, just ranting and raving.

It is difficult for me to justify paying almost a thousand dollars a year for 3 weekends, work on someone else's trees using my own wire and my own tools. Maybe if a thousand dollars a year meant nothing to me, but I'm still in college, and feel somewhat almost misled by that style of teaching. On the one hand, I have someone who (I won't mention because he asked me not to but is a name in American bonsai everyone would recognize), invited me into his house for a weekend, let me roam around his property and spend time around his bonsai, and taught me about bonsai. His doing this solidified an already growing love for bonsai. It was more than bonsai, it was an experience deeper than that for me, it meant something, I felt like I was in heaven. Frankly, I cannot see paying for that, in fact i don't think could happen if I paid for it, we both would have behaved differently if there was a cash exchange, that is just the way it is.

At the same time, a living must be made by those willing to commit their entire lives to bonsai right? I think that there needs to be a fundamental change in the way bonsai professionals earn a living as well, but I'm still processing it and am not saying I have the answer. I think the symbiotic relationship between collector and artist is a good one and may be a good recipe for emerging American artists, but that is only part of the answer. I think the artist-student relationship should be one that fosters a friendship, of which a byproduct is consumer loyalty. We need to see bonsai be a real staple in America for their to be any type of long-term sustainability for bonsai professionals. I think there needs to be a movement, a Bonsai movement, and it needs a catalyst.  It's something you see in big art, all art/social movements start with a few charismatic highly skilled individuals who surround themselves with similar individuals and just express themselves, and that grows exponentially when the general public see it. They are not in it to just put food on the table, nor just to make money, but rather do it because they love it, art for the sake of art. In academia, every good proffesor I have ever met says the same thing, follow your heart, and the money will find you.

Furthermore, I think this passion is something that is very visceral, and any halfway intelligent person can see this realness and sincerity from a mile away. I would never have had such a deep seated love for bonsai if I did not grow up in Brooklyn botanical gardens or if I didn't visit bonsai of Brooklyn as a kid and have that very kind hippie dude smiling at me and letting me stargaze around the trees. If you can, try and single out the most important part of what got you into bonsai, is it also because of something like i said? Or was it a bonsai show, a demonstration, or a workshop. These types of venues make money, but I feel that they are not in the best interest of raising awareness and interest in bonsai. In fact, I would argue that they turn people off of mainstream bonsai, because it feels (to me, an outsider) like a barrier exists, an elitism, where pass this point, you must have this much money to ride. And it must suck for the artist also, teaching eight people at the same time, each one demanding a fair share of the time, when in reality you cannot give any of them of the time they deserve.

And what happened to good ole fashioned barter? I'll build you anything out of stone, trade you a few collected eastern cedars, you show me a thing or two about making major bends and building long-term sustainable bonsai design. I'm happy to say that the a lot of people who I have approached about bonsai learning have open to this, and it is with them that my future consumer loyalty will lie (when I have money to be a consumer).

One idea I would love to pursue that I feel would do well to foster a movement in North America is I want to make a documentary about American ( maybe Canadian/South American also ) Bonsai, going around with a few choice collectors (both urban and yamadori), seeing the real harrowing battle against nature that comes with collecting near the timber line. Also, visit with some of the wizened private professional (non-bonsai career), a few of the professional veteran, a few of the young bloods coming back or just going to japan, and a couple kids who are trying to break into bonsai now. I think that would make for a sweet movie, it just needs to be done by someone who knows where the story lies, which is always where the stories lie, in the details of the ones immersed in it and passionate enough about to commit their lives to it...

TBH, this last part may just be because I am getting a professional (video) camera and have always wanted to film something like this. I just think that something like this could be great, and, in one fell swoop, really open up the floodgates for American Bonsai to the next generation.


 

Sorce

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 789
  • Thanked: 1 times
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #71 on: December 23, 2013, 08:25 PM »
And Hanzman with 5 paragraphs!

Owen, I know you are a professional. It's nice to see what you do though. Hell, you are famous to me!

John Kirby. You are a instructor as well? Specialties?


Wow. To the JK and LG stories. Its stuff like that, and politics that keep me from joining a club.

JH I'm here because of a ficus I found at a job. Love of nature is why I am still here. Green is peaceful.



 

Owen Reich

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 888
  • Thanked: 7 times
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #72 on: December 24, 2013, 05:43 AM »
I guess I find these threads interesting. As with most things with bonsai there are very few absolutes. I always get asked when people can do certain kinds of work. The answer is usually, it depends. I get asked when can you wire Japanese Black Pines? The stock answer, immediately after decandling or in winter when the tree is dormant (the needles are very tough then and can withstand wiring abuse more easily). However, if you are expert at wiring and have good hands (can wire without breaking needles or new buds) and are willing to provide aftercare, you can wire in the July to September timeframe.

Many of the trees I see brought to workshops Or demos I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. They have not been repotted, or they are in some kind of muck I have no idea if the tree will respond as expected. Professionals get paid to perform at club activities, those that are honest and tell folks what they need to do to make their trees strong enough to be worked on, don't get asked back, so they push on. However, I have also watched some highly regarded folks go through and hack trees down to a single branch and tell their students to grow the tree back, time and time again. Couple the two and you have kindling.

Anyway ab association for certified instructors and/or professionals could be helpful, but folks will still by Mallsai and other junk and hope some poor workshop leader van make a masterpiece in one hour from their lump of coal.



Guess I can't stay away  ;D.  John, I completely agree with you on most of those points.  Workshop material is often purchased at a price that is not in line with a quality final product.  This is a problem.  I spend more time talking about how to care for the species and what the next steps are in that case.  It's a tough biz.  I have time and again promoted the idea of longer demonstrations or less raw trees.  I'd take a day or more for most demo trees I'm presented with.  Having to entertain and educated while styling a tree is also complicated.  I like what a lot of the Europeans are doing; a weekend is devoted to the tree and people come and go.  The Mid-Atlantic Show is a step in the right direction as they leave the professional alone for a few hours after the introduction and some work.  Then the tree's design is explained later.  Much better. 

 

Sorce

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 789
  • Thanked: 1 times
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #73 on: December 24, 2013, 07:27 AM »
Maybe some of you   ;D can back this up......

   After reading these posts, it's clear Americans want their Bonsai like Fast Food, Tivo, and Plastic Surgery.

What you learn by apprenticing in Japan, is DISCIPLINE.

If I were an instructor doing a demo. I would sit everyone down. Put the tree on the table, sit down and stare at the tree.
 After an hour or two, turn and ask, "what have you learned?"

We must stop feeding into the impatience.

Spirituality Returns.
 

John Kirby

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2216
  • Thanked: 16 times
  • I really need an opposable thumb...
Re: Need help expanding my knowledge in Bonsai
« Reply #74 on: December 24, 2013, 09:33 AM »
Sorce, the nice thing is, you would only get to do that once.........  ;)