Free Online Lesson’s – Wiring with Colin Lewis

Just a quick update today to let you all know about the free wiring lesson’s that I have just stumbled across from Colin Lewis.

 Colin Lewis - Bonsai Wiring Essentials

The lesson’s consist of four videos and are done through an online learning facility called ‘Craftsy’. You’ll need to sign up to be able to register for the lesson’s, however that is a very simple process.

http://www.craftsy.com/class/bonsai-wiring-essentials/4616

I know I’ve been a little quiet lately, but rest assured that I am busy working on an update for the website. More details will be posted soon.

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‘The Bonsai Workshop’ Exhibition – May 2014

Well, I had hoped to have this post up a bit sooner, but June is the crazy period for me at work, and crazy it has been! Not to mention the troubles I’m having at home, mainly with my car that I’ve now put more money into then the thing is worth… but that isn’t what we’re here for is it? So, onwards to bonsai!

The exhibition is now over a month passed, so I apologise for the delay in posting up the photos, but time is a swift beast, and she flys away from me often. This post will mainly just be photo’s, as there is not a lot I can say on each tree, but will comment where I can.

Coprosma

DSC01195

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Something new, and something fresh

Now that I have the ball rolling, I thought it might be time to freshen up the place, and take my webpage/blog to the next level.

Firstly, I will be creating and registering the domain Down Under Bonsai. This is the last step in my ‘just a blog’ page, and the first step into a officially registered website. Once I have the domain set up, I will begin properly advertising and promoting the site.

Next, a review of the things I will post. I will continue on with my current updates on my personal tree’s and workshops, and eventually as my skills progress, I will start touching on techniques and tips and so forth. However I would like to add something more. I want Bonsai in Australia to grow, so I figure, what better way then to start posting up the various exhibitions from around this fine country, and start showcasing some of our artists and bonsai to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, as I am not by any means rich, I can’t travel to each show to take photos (hopefully one day), so I will have to gain some contact from various states, and see if I can use their pictures in my posts. 

Next, I am considering starting to use the site to re-blog other stories, from other bonsai artists around the world. I hope that this will mix things up a bit, and keep the site fresh and interesting, and also help fellow artists showcase their own blogs and pages. So far this is just an idea that I’m bouncing around my head, but will most likely become a reality.

That is not the end of my ideas however. I have a lot more that I would like to do, but am concious of over committing myself, so I’ll keep it at that for now, and stick with the ideas that I think will have the most benefit to Bonsai in Australia.

So, stay tuned! Next up will be a post about the WA Bonsai Workshop’s recent Exhibition (photo’s galore!), followed shortly by an old news story that I have been given permission to repost, containing an interview with one of Australia’s founding bonsai artist’s.

Robert Steven Workshop – Melaleuca Incana

Due to the length of my last post, I thought I would make a seperate post for my workshop Melaleuca. That way I can waffle a bit more, and also give you a bit more background on this bonsai’s beginnings. Its taken me a while to get this post up, due to another project in the works, but more on that in later.

Mel. Incana 1

 

The tree started as a simple pot plant sold at a nursery (not a bonsai nursery). You can see in this photo that this is really just a shrub, and the branching has a very pendulous growth.

 

 

Mel. Incana 18 Front

 

This next shot shows the branch selection process and the angle change. Please be aware this is not my work, nor my photos, but that of the previous owner whom I purchased the tree from. Which is why I will not expand too much.

 

 

This is the final shot before the tree passed over into my hands. You can see it come along nicely, however showing a few minor wire scars.

Mel. Incana

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Robert Steven Workshop – Breaking the Mindset

What an absolutely amazing weekend I had with Robert Steven, who so kindly visited our club for a weekend of critiques, presentations and workshops. I can’t say how glad I am that he came to visit Perth, as it was one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had. I’m still digesting everything that I learned from the weekend with Robert, as he really opened my mind to a different view on how I should be learning the art.

One thing that I came to realise, is that its not just about learning the ‘rules and guidelines’ of bonsai, but actually understanding the background of these so called ‘rules’ and why they are in place. By better understanding these rules, you can better understand what situations you need to apply them, and what situations that they can be bent or ‘broken’.

He also went further then the ‘rules’, and touched on our mindsets, and how we need to break away from them and start treating each bonsai as an individual, rather then trying to apply broad rules to each and every tree we work.

I should note at this point, when I say ‘rules’ I do not mean to say that there are actually rules within the bonsai world, but more guidelines that are widely followed.

Anyway, enough of the theory, lets gets some photos happening!

The first day we started with Robert critiquing a few of our members trees. I think this may have been the moment he fell in love with the our paperbarks.

robert steven 1

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Very busy shedule!

I thought I better pop in, and give a brief update on my activities.

It’s been crazy to say the least. Work is taking up an increasing amount of time, meaning less time for bonsai. I don’t get home to after dark, so I’m watering with a torch in one hand, and watering can in the other…. not very ideal. Unfortunately that is just how it goes, I am not able to bring them inside, and there are no lights outside, so I basically cannot work my bonsai during the week, other then watering them. My weekends can be much the same, leaving me with next to no time to spend with my special little guys.

Thats ok though, life is life, and it throws you a curve ball more often then not. The trick is not letting it get the better of you!

So this weekend will be very busy for me again, however I NEED to get into the garden, so I’ve made it a priority. I need to firstly get some soil (dam ants!) and give some pots a top up, and repot some others. Then, if I still have time I’ll be giving a few of my bonsai a wire.

I’m also now two weeks away from the Robert Steven workshop, which I’ve signed up for both days. I’ve got two tree’s lined up, one a nice Shimpaku Juniper and the other a Melaleuca Incana which I’ve decided is finally time to give some direction to. Both I think are great tree’s for a workshop, so hopefully I will get a lot out of it. I’ve also been asked to assist Robert at our meeting on Monday, which I’m pretty bloody excited about too!!

So that is it for now, I’m planning on giving a much more thorough update in the lead up to the workshop. I’m also currently working on a massive project for the AusBonsai Community, which is set to be pretty dam big! Stay tuned for more on that at a later date!

A cool change, but not yet Autumn

Well, its that time of year… or should I say, it ‘SHOULD’ be that time of year where the weather starts to turn, however it appears that Summer is holding on for a bit longer yet. Luckily, we had a cool change over the weekend and this week, which allowed me to get out into the garden and get a couple of jobs done.

First up, was some wire removal. I have a few tree’s in various stages, all in some dire need of wire removal. Most were ok, with the wire just starting to dig in, but I had one Juniper with some unexpected growth and the wire had cut a little deeper then what I would have liked. So out came the cheap wire cutters (really need to upgrade them) and I got stuck straight into it. Unfortunately, I went a bit longer then I expected, and as darkness came, so did a couple of mistakes. Thankfully, only a few minor buds knocked off, but my own fault for trying to do it at dusk, I was just enjoying it so much (it really is peaceful for me) that I didn’t want to stop! No pictures yet, these tree’s really aren’t suitable for showing, and I’m a bit embarrassed showing tree’s that are still quite raw.

Then it was on to some repotting. First up was my cascade Juniper Procumbens from my Bill Valavanis workshop. I repotted this, beleiving that it was dying off due to being root bound, problem is that when I got it out of the pot… it wasn’t all that root bound. Bugger! So, I gave it a slight root prune, and went ahead with the repot, as it needed a new pot to cater for its cascading branch hanging below the base of the current pot. It was one problem after another, firstly discovering it wasn’t root bound, then discovering that the pot really isn’t the best pick for the tree, as the fluting rim of the pot is in the way of the cascading branch. Unfortunately, I don’t have any other pots. So I trimmed a bit more of the roots on one side, so that it would fit in the pot properly… despite the placement looking terrible. There is nothing I can do about it though, so I went ahead with it, and gave the branches a bit of a tweak in the process… only to then snap one of the main branches! Wow, I had to ask myself if my luck get any worse? Luckily it didn’t, and I learnt three valuable lessons.

1. Don’t rush a repot.
2. Check the bonsai fits the pot suitably before repotting.
3. Don’t make a bend where there is no support.

Good lesson’s, just hope it’s not at the expense of the tree.

Next it was on to my natives. These are mainly things that I’ve grown from tubestock, so they are nothing spectacular as yet. As I’ve got them potted in nursery pots to thicken them up, they need to be repotted reasonably regularly. So I pulled out my new bag of soil, bought only the previous day… only to discover it full of ants! My arch nemisis it seems. This is the third time I’ve found them in a bag of soil already this year, and am still no closer to knowing why. (Any suggestions would be most welcome, am very curious as to why they like my soil?) Luckily, they hadn’t invaded the whole bag, so I dug out what they had and continued with the repot… however I decided to repot everything I could to use the soil before the ants got to it again. So my Corymbia. Ficifolia, Mel. Systena, Callistemon, and another Meleleuca all got repotted with some new soil, and larger pots. I gave the Ficifolia a rough wiring… cracking a branch in the process… and think it now has the bones of a potentially great tree, however only time will tell… and I guess that cracked branch will tell too, but I’m hopeful as the break wasn’t too bad, and I applied cut paste right away.

I must also give a shout out to Craig from Meljobu Bonsai who gave me a couple of cracker tree’s to work on, one of which should be perfect for the upcoming workshop if I can feed it enough beforehand. I am insanely happy about not only being given two bonsai, but being given native bonsai that I have been craving since I started getting into Bonsai. Both tree’s have a lot of potential, but the Melaleuca which has some really nice deadwood features is by far my favorite… probably because it is my favorite species to work with! I really hope to do them justice, I’ve rearranged the whole garden so that they are both in a suitable spot, protected from the worst part of the days heat, and hope to give them a working soon. (I’ll post up some pictures when I have them)

So thats it for the update, a lot of lessons have come the hard way this month, but its all a learning experience for me. I’m coming to understand why you don’t get too attached to any particular tree, and not to worry too much about losing one, as it is all part of the learning process.

Until next time!