Another year done! A look back at my first year of bonsai

Well, what a year it was!

Firstly, a big Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all! I hope everyone has had an amazing time, and did not get up to too much mischeif.

Whilst it is not exactly a year since I started bonsai (its actualy been one year and 2 months… but who’s counting right) I thought I might have a look back over my year and see what I have learnt, and where I can grow.

My first real bonsai experience I guess was with the Bonsai Society of WA. It was a simple day long beginners course, that taught me more then I can say, and sent me way with my passion for bonsai. I created a Shohin Juniper with the aid of a mentor for the class (who I was stoked to work with, as he is a favourite artist of mine) from a stock Juniper Procumbens. I learnt many things during the course, more then I can really put in to words, but it gave me the base I needed to really start learning.

Me and my first bonsai. Proud as punch

Next was the Mauro Stemberger demonstration. Unfortunately I did not participate in the workshop, as I just was not confident enough to put my name down. A shame, as I now really wish I had of done it. Anyway, I did watch his demonstration, which was a real pleasure. The man himself is great, very funny and extremely knowledgeable in the art. He produced an amazing tree from the stock that was provided, and really helped me in looking beyond the ‘obvious’ tree.

Then, it was back to the beginner course, I enjoyed it so much the first time that I just had to go again. the set up was the same and I enjoyed myself just as much as I did the first time, the experience is one I recommend for any beginner wanting to learn. I worked on another Juniper Procumbens, which I created a slanting style bonsai from. Being able to work a tree in that environment, with so many knowledgeable people there to help and answer my questions, really is the best way to learn.

(Picture coming soon, I didn’t get any good ones at the course, but do have one once I got home)

Finally, my workshop with Bill Valavanis. I have documented this already in another post, so will not go through that again. Suffice it to say, that Bill is a wonderful bloke, and I really enjoyed the workshop.

Bill V-workshop

This, was my first year through bonsai. I should note that this is a very high level view of my year, I have my own small garden which I am continue to grow my bonsai-to-be, and learn as I do so. I also acquired a nice little melaleuca, which is pictured below. My first, proper, native bonsai. The first of very many to come.

Mel. Incana

So, that is my first year of Bonsai. The one thing I really have learnt this year, is that I truly have a lot to learn. I know now that it really is not as simple as it looks, but I have also found that I have a real passion for this, and hope to continue on for a long time. I have also discovered my passion for natives, and look forward to where I can take that in my bonsai ‘career’.

Bill Valavanis – Cascade workshop

Well this update is a little overdue, but have had a few things on my agenda of late, namely getting a Root Canal on one of my teeth, and also trying to tie up my loose ends, so that I can put some more focus here.

So, I thought it about time that I update you all on how I went with my first workshop!

The workshop I attended was one of two with international bonsai artist Bill Valavanis, focusing on Cascade style bonsai (the other workshop was on Literati, which I unfortunately couldn’t attend). The workshop and demonstration went over a full day, with the demo going for the first half of the day, and the workshop the last 4 hours.

So first up was the demonstration, where Bill went through a few of the member’s tree’s and critiqued each, before moving on to the demo tree, which was a Juniper ROR Cascade… a combination that Bill had not seen previously!

Cascade workshop

We then proceeded on with the workshop, which I was starting to get nervous about by that time. Being my first workshop, I really had no idea what to expect, and was paranoid about my lack of skills.

Well… it turns out that I had nothing to worry about. Not that I suddenly learnt the ‘skills’, but more so that Bill was just a great guy, and after a chat with him, my nerves faded very quickly.

Unfortunately, as my tree needed a lot of basic work, Bill didn’t spend too much time working with me, and I found I spent most of the time cleaning my stock, and then wiring it all up…. which I tell you, was not easy. I had underestimated how much wiring was required! So basically the whole time was spent wiring with Bill stopping by every now and then with a few pointers, and then at the end Bill came over and helped with the final branch placement and basic styling.

Lesson learnt, prepare your tree a few days prior to the workshop, or at least get the basic cleaning out of the way so that you have more time to actually work with the artist leading the workshop. Another lesson which I learnt… bandaids are a good item to keep in your tool kit! I managed to slice my hand quite bad with my new Kaneshin scissors, which I attempted to work through until the blood became a bit much. Luckily a lovely lady who was observing had some handy, for which I was very thankful.

The stock tree I bought for this workshop
Unworked Cascade

After a little bit of cleaning and main trunk wired
Cleaned and wired

The final product
Final - Bill Valavanis Workshop

Ready for the workshop!

Well, after a visit to the Bonsai Emporium this weekend, I’m now offically ready for Bill Valavanis’ workshop at the end of the month. Am very excited to see what I can learn from this man I’ve heard (and read) so much about.

Unfortunately, I also managed to blow my back out again, preforming the most mundane of tasks (I think I was getting a drink of water). So it was a most interesting trip to try and look for cascade stock… when I can’t even  reach down to do my own shoes up!!

Due to that, I spent most of the weekend off my back and as such didn’t get a oppurtunity to post up my new logo… which is lucky in a way, as I’ve decided to change it a little anyway. So, stay tuned!

Back to the cascade! I ended up choosing a nice juniper, well… I picked the best one I could see without being able to bend down and have a look at it. I’m hoping that it will be enough to work with, I didn’t scrape on the price… too much at least… I decided to go for one that wasn’t in a training pot, which saved me half the price, allowing me to get better stock. Just hope that the lack of pot won’t be a problem in the workshop, I guess I could just wack it in the pot beforehand… but I don’t want to stress the plant anymore then I need to so…. we’ll see I guess.

Anyways, providing there is enough light when I get home, I will post some pics of the stock