By Angela Jones Tillman (Silk Hope School, Siler City, North Carolina)
and David W. Fukumoto (Fuku-Bonsai, Kurtistown, Hawaii)
        Hello David!
        I just placed some photos in the mail for you.....hopefully they will arrive in a couple of days. My students are wanting to know what type of potting media to use whenever they decide to re-pot into a larger container in the future.   I told them it is necessary to find a suitable material that is very similar to yours.   I have not found any nursery nearby that has anything comparable.   Do you have any suggestions?    Or will they need to just order some more from Fuku-bonsai?     They are quite interested in maintenance ...for which I'm thrilled!    Please advise whenever you get a chance.    Thank you David!
         Warmest regards,  Angela  (October 2, 2003)
          (NOTE:  An email was sent to bonsai potter Richard "Sonny" Boggs of Autumn Moon Studios (5949 Puritan Lane, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27103;  Phone 336-712-1371) giving Angela's email address and requesting recommendations and information regarding bonsai soil for Angela's class.).
Tillman II 3f 6inch.jpg (65337 bytes)
8A with their bonsai plants
Tillman II 3g 6inch.jpg (68201 bytes)
8C with their bonsai plants
        Aloha Angela and the 8th grade art classes!
        It was wonderful to see the varied results! I used a magnifying glass to see the details of the trees in the 8A and 8C class photos as well as in the other photos and I am very pleased and happy to note the creativity that you students exhibited. SUMO! was planted both high and lot and even tilted.  ROOTS! were upright as well as root-over-rock-into pot.  HAWAIIAN DRAGON! was happily sunning itself as well as slithering along the ground.
         In my earliest bonsai classes when the plant materials were provided,  all of the workshop trees were either seedlings or rooted cuttings that seemed to be identical. Other advanced workshops had old trees that were well along their way to bonsai, but the styling was pretty much set and no great creativity possible. I think that distinguishes your current group!
        I like the idea of using yarn to secure the plant in the root-over-rock and Johnathan and Sapna did a nice job.  One way to increase the number of roots on the rock is to place some spaghnum moss over the larger existing root and wrap the rock (except for a watering hole) with aluminum foil.  This will maintain moisture and the larger root may send out smaller roots that should be protected until they establish in the pot.  If successful, it may create a more complex root and rock design.
      Please impress upon your class that bonsai is a journey and it's time to let imaginations soar!  If they like the low look,  consider tying a piece of yarn to the anchoring wire under the pot, then us the yarn to pull down or tie down a branch.  For those with Hawaiian Dragons,  consider tying down a branch to the soil,  lifting the branch up by wedging a rock under it,  then tying it down again to create an undulating branch to compliment the twisty trunk. Consider pulling branches closer together with the yarn, or even tying the growing tip that may be growing along the ground to swing up and over so it's now facing the other side of the pot.   
      Consider using spreaders made from Popsicle sticks.  Imagine the possibility of using wire from a clothes hanger cut and bent to do what young agile 8th grade minds can imagine!  Part of bonsai is having fun  .  .  .  smiling and dreaming weird crazy dreams
  .  .  .  then figuring out a way to interpret and express it in the tree!  I'm delighted with the great amount of variety up to this stage and excited about what is still to come! 
       Warm regards,  ~~~David  (October 10, 2003)
        Hello David!
        Thank you for the comments and the helpful suggestions!   We are working on taking some neat photos for you this week.   I will also have some letters for you as well as beautiful Haiku!  
         Richard sent me a recipe for potting soil....I can find all the ingredients at Home Depot!     Perfect.   I made copies and distributed it to all my 8th graders.   Thank you again for sending him my information. I will be in touch again soon.
          Warmest regards, Angela (October 16, 2003)


               Eighth graders at Silk Hope Elementary school were a bit more excited than usual on the first day of Art class this year.   It was finally their turn to participate in the Indoor Bonsai unit.  They (unlike the initial class) were able to view the web site pages developed around the 2001-2002 graduating class.  Knowing what to expect, their enthusiasm was a lot higher than the first group. Parents as well expressed interest.    I heard several comments such as, "I can't wait until my daughter Holly brings her bonsai home!"      Some students had already decided where in the home his/her plant would be displayed.

                 A wonderful surprise was the huge variety in the plants shipped to us.   "Sumo",  "Roots", and "Dragon"  were all beautiful and the care with which  each had been trained was clearly evident.   Students quickly became attached to their own plants and within a couple of days could easily spot theirs on the counter amongst 45 others.

                  This second time around with the Bonsai unit was an opportunity for us to experiment and change things a bit.   Students were obviously more interested in getting their hands on the plants  as opposed to drawing various sketches through different stages of the lesson.  We decided to draw a "before sketch" of our plants so that we could truly study each twist, turn, and overall form.  The future vision sketch was not part of the unit this time.   I feel it is beneficial, yet this class was not very interested in the drawing  aspect.

                 Another small, yet helpful change was that I watered the plants weekly for the students instead of them having to do it during art. This frees up time in which students can draw, prune, etc.   Instruction was given and the watering technique was demonstrated during the first week only.

                  Photographs were taken frequently during the unit with our digital camera.   Several times during Art class while students were cleaning up, I would show them digital photos on the television screen that were taken during the previous hour.   It was great to see immediate results, everyone loved to see pictures of themselves pruning and working with their plants.

                  Currently we are under a water conservation measure at our school that has caused us to postpone the pottery unit.   When the restrictions are lifted, each student will be able to create a pot from clay on the potter's wheel for future transplanting of his/her bonsai.  We are all looking forward to that! This has already become the highlight of eighth grade art class each year and we plan to carry on the tradition.   I highly recommend working with David Fukumoto and the Fukubonsai team if  growing in new directions interests you!

                                                                      Angela Tillman (October 30, 2003)


Fuku-Bonsai Inc. & Angela Jones Tillman, 2003    All rights reserved
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