Show Prep – The Final Mile

Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 | 2 Comments
Show Prep – The Final Mile

As a bonsai enthusiast I was introduced to show prep almost immediately after I started doing bonsai. My first teacher was preparing more than 15 trees for an annual show and put me to work adding moss to a saikei. Years later I was doing the same thing to my own trees. When I teach, […]

Putting Away the Power Tools

Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 | 5 Comments
Putting Away the Power Tools

When I was growing up my dad used a belt sander for everything. Need to smooth out some rough lumber? That’s what a belt sander is for. Need to round off the edges? Belt sander. It seemed like the belt sander was the most versatile tool in the shop. It wasn’t until 15 years later […]

Lots of Sawdust

Posted by on Jan 18, 2016 | 7 Comments
Lots of Sawdust

Over the last few years I’ve tried my hand at making bonsai stands a couple dozen times. I have a background in woodworking starting from childhood and I figured that a bonsai stand couldn’t be that difficult to recreate. At first, this was just a way to have good-looking bonsai stands at a reasonable cost, […]

Blue Atlas Cedar Saga – Part – II

Posted by on Dec 31, 2015 | 9 Comments
Blue Atlas Cedar Saga – Part – II

In part I of this Cedar’s story I started with a tree that had a good trunk and grafted on a few branches using approach grafts to form the basic structure. From there it was really all about forming the crown and branch pads efficiently. What I found after moving back to San Francisco is […]

Blue Atlas Cedar Saga – Part – I

Posted by on Dec 28, 2015 | 6 Comments
Blue Atlas Cedar Saga – Part – I

To my knowledge, Blue Atlas Cedar is not a traditional bonsai species, particularly in Japan where I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one. But cedars seem to be good subjects; they have short needles naturally, grow quickly under good conditions and seem to respond well to bonsai work. I’ve never had many of them, only […]

The Artisans Cup Judging

Posted by on Oct 4, 2015 | 27 Comments
The Artisans Cup Judging

In their Sunday afternoon panel discussion Ryan and Chelsea Neil expressed a desire for creating professional standards in bonsai and for consistency and transparency in judging of bonsai exhibits. To that end, the judges at The Artisans Cup were separated during judging so they would not influence each other and they were informed in advance […]

A Golden Moment in the Garden

Posted by on Sep 15, 2015 | 4 Comments
A Golden Moment in the Garden

One of the nice things about having a yard that faces the San Francisco bay and the rising sun is that occasionally there are moments when the lighting is just amazing. They don’t happen every day, but they are more frequent in fall and winter than during the summer. A few days ago I glanced […]

Juniper Grafts

Posted by on Jul 23, 2015 | No Comments
Juniper Grafts

Road to the Cup – Part 2 If you’re not grafting on junipers that you have in development then you’re likely not making really great bonsai, it’s that simple. While trees grown from cuttings can become really good in time, much of the juniper trunk stock that exists either from old landscape plants, wild trees […]

Material Selection

Posted by on Jul 11, 2015 | 3 Comments
Material Selection

Road to The Cup- Part 1 I mentioned in my last post that the tree that I’ll be bringing to The Artisans Cup was a castoff sales table tree that turned into a keeper. The selection of material to work on in bonsai is the first task for a bonsai artist; it is equal in […]

Decandling Decisions

Posted by on Jun 25, 2015 | 2 Comments
Decandling Decisions

Decandling a Japanese Black Pine is one of the techniques that allows for long term containment of established bonsai and establishment of younger trees as bonsai. The process of removing all the spring growth is well-documented and there are multiple techniques that are used by different people to good effect. Much of bonsai learning comes […]