When I went to the bonsai shop, I wasn't expecting to come home with a JBP project. I went to buy some tools. But when I saw this one, and the taper in the trunk, AND all the little buds coming off the trunk, well, I had to get it. Material like this just doesn't present itself every day. Bonsai is funny that way... when you go looking for something in particular, you can't find it. It's when you're not looking for something, that you find it.
I stopped by there again today, and they were down to only two left, and neither would be good for bonsai. They had about 8 when I picked this one out. This one was so good I didn't really consider the others. Maybe I should have. No, one big project is enough.
I have a large bonsai pot I bought about 25 years ago. It was $100 then. I wonder what it would be today? It is a little wider than the current nursery tub, and almost as wide. It's about 5 inches deep inside the pot. It will work for it in the future.
Do you think I could go ahead and do the top root ball work you described, and reduce the root ball height by about half? It's currently 14 inches tall. I'm thinking of just sawing it straight across about halfway. And putting a layer of boon mix across the bottom of the cut down nursery pot until next spring. Then pot into the bonsai pot next spring. Some of the candles are just beginning to develop needles. Others are not quite that far along. If you think it's risky, I won't. This material is too nice to take a big risk.