Impressions from the BIB Show – 2016

Posted by on Jan 29, 2016 | No Comments
Impressions from the BIB Show – 2016

Every year for the past few years, I shoot the formal show photos at the Bay Island Bonsai show. They are used by magazines and for the show books. The setup is really nice, and the photos are recordings of the moment in time for the trees. We typically shoot the entire tree and container […]

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 […]

Large Japanese Black Pine – Fall Cleanup

Posted by on Dec 18, 2015 | 6 Comments
Large Japanese Black Pine – Fall Cleanup

Sometimes I wonder how many mature trees a person can have and properly maintain as bonsai before they are a full-time practitioner, if not a professional. I took this tree off my bench a week ago convinced that if I left it any longer it would not be good for the lower and interior buds. […]

A Little Fall Elm Cleanup

Posted by on Dec 2, 2015 | No Comments
A Little Fall Elm Cleanup

This is not the first time I’ve blogged about this tree, but it’s such a delightful little thing that it’s fun to revisit. For the previous history of the tree and older images see the “Kifu Elm” post from last winter. I covered a bit about forming elms in another blog post this year; I […]

Boon’s Black Pine Baseline

Posted by on Nov 26, 2015 | 5 Comments
Boon’s Black Pine Baseline

When I was only a year or two into doing bonsai I learned of this guy named Boon who lived in the East Bay and was good at working with pines. I attended the BIB show and saw for myself that the show was filled with great trees that exhibited a level of work that […]

Good Ponderosa, Bad Ponderosa

Posted by on Nov 21, 2015 | No Comments
Good Ponderosa, Bad Ponderosa

Among American native pine species, Ponderosa pine is perhaps the most popular species to collect and train as bonsai. While I can think of numerous other species that seem more suitable to bonsai based on needle characteristics, it is Ponderosa that you will most often find. The reason for the relative plethora of Ponderosa compared […]