- SECOND BONSAI CLASS SERIES
- PART I
- By Angela Jones Tillman (Silk Hope School, Siler City, North Carolina)
- and David W. Fukumoto (Fuku-Bonsai, Kurtistown, Hawaii)
ALOHA! I'm really looking forward to reports as we introduce and bring together a lot of elements and improvements from the original course! The idea of three major styling concepts and the potential for additional variations will give more creative opportunities. I'm anxious to see how you exploit the opportunities! Consider the following to start your creative thinking:
1. "Roots!" presents the greatest opportunity if your most adventurous students can take on the challenge. I've included a few rocks for those who may want to go "root-over-rock-into-pot." For these students, make up extra 12" to 15" lengths of string and make an overhand knot in the middle to have additional tie-down opportunities. I am also sending over some spaghnum moss. Have it well soaked, then squeeze out the water, and use it as a thin "blanket" to protect freshly exposed roots.
2. The concept of "Roots!" can be added to both "Sumo!" and "Hawaiian Dragon!" Make a double thickness aluminum foil cylinder a little higher than the amount you want to stretch the roots and simply plant it high! Imagine a heavy "Sumo!" perched on top of exposed roots! Place a heavier wire in amongst the roots to help support it. If necessary tie the wire with string. Invent new techniques that may not be traditional but that will work! Include an extra discussion of "creative technique development" before the training session!
3. "Sumo!" can also go root-over-rock-into-pot! Trees on rocks tend to be short and stout so there is a natural relationship. The elevated height of the rock will create an exciting profile. While "Sumo!" can go up, it can also go down! Think of a tree that has been toppled in a storm and blown over! Stick some of the roots into the air and over time expose some of the roots. Have some of the branches touching the ground (with a little spaghnum moss below it to encourage new roots). Each of the branches will be like the start of new trees and the overall future effect could be a grove of trees!
4. "Hawaiian Dragon!" represents another styling concept of turning trees and allowing the upward tendency of trees to be a shaping technique. Imagine that a tree can be shaped by simply planting it sideways, and as it grows upward, lifting it out of the pot and planting it at a different angle. Repeat again and again and again! Use some twist-ties (like the paper-wrapped wire to close vegetable plastic bags) or string to exaggerate the bend. This technique can also be used on "Sumo!" and "Roots!"
Teaching creativity is a very appropriate subject for an art class and I'm really looking forwards to reports. How about having each student describing their mental vision of the story of the tree and the circumstances of how it came to have short, stout shapes, or exposed roots, or twisty trunks. Have them be creative and a bit outrageous! One such narrative could start: "A tree perched atop a mountain got blown over by a tropical typhoon and . . . " Think about this: "The shape of a tree is like the sum total of all of the events that shaped it!" The more vivid the mental picture that you can create, the more interesting your bonsai can become!
BONSAI IS EXAGGERATION! If you see a small bend, consider making it a sharper bend and create new bends from new growth again and again and again until that could be its overwhelming "personality" trait. Take a technique and repeat it until it's a bit overdone! Have faith and continue it! At one point the tree will go past "ugly" into "personality-plus" and into "unique one of a kind!" Is there a bonsai lesson of life in this? Celebrate individuality!
I recommend that the trees again be numbered and distributed by lot. Then allow the students to trade with each other to get a reasonable challenge and a tree that gets them excited! Please take a lot of good photos, print out and mail to me each week so I can add my thoughts. This is preferable to emailing.
In closing, I want to encourage you to utilize Chinese penjing and Hawaiian bonsai concepts. THE TWO CHINESE RULES: 1) "SMILE!" (Creativeness easily comes to those who smile and dream outrageously!) And, 2) DON'T MAKE UP ANY MORE RULES!
From Hawaiian bonsai, think "HOBBY!" Don't only worry about "ART" (individual creativity) or "CRAFT" (all has to be done by somebody else's rules). Hobby is enjoyment and the sharing of fellowship! It's allowing your creativity to soar! It's helping a friend who may not have great creative thoughts! But it's also being a good friend and not saying anything until your friend has had an opportunity to come up with his or her own thoughts! Hobby is about friendships and fun!
So as you begin this course, I send all best wishes. I think I'm going to learn a lot from you, too! Please contact me from time to time if I can assist.
Warmest regards, ~~~David W. Fukumoto (August 19, 2003)
|Narative regarding starting off with a
|Cody, Cortland and Russel reading the handbook and examining their bonsai for the first time.|
|The two Heathers discussing their "dragons."|
|Marbella, Brittney, and Holly adjust their bonsai during potting.|
|Sapna is attempting a "root-over-rock-into-pot" styling.|
|At completion, the plant and rock have been securely tied with yarn and spaghnum moss has been packed under the yarn to encourage the root to establish itself around the rock.|
|First watering after potting out bonsai.|
|A few of the girls are sketching their bonsai.|
|Migrel, Chopin, Cam, and Syrron are also working a Haiku . . . counting syllables . . . 5,7,5.|
|Brittany & Heather are working on their Haiku.|
- © Fuku-Bonsai Inc. & Angela Jones Tillman, 2003 All rights reserved
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