Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bonsai Pots, More To It Than Meets the Eye

You'd think that once a bonsai pot was completed and taken out of the kiln, that would be the end of the process.
But for me, that is probably about the half way point.

There's a list of things to do next.

1.  Check each pot over for cracks and flaws.

2.   Bring them all inside to take individual pictures/sometimes redo/upload.

3.   Measure each of them in Centimetres and Inches. (not everyone is using metrics)

4.   Make up a tag and label each one (tags all hand made by me)

5.   Sort through SOLD/ON HOLD pots on the blog for a gap.  Pick out the best picture of each pot and add number/caption and export to the blog.

6.    Remove already SOLD pots from blog once received.

7.    Check emails regularly for orders. Reply/quote shipping/waiting on replys/payments all take time. I normally wait a week for a decision on a HOLD pot, for some I wait a bit longer, but I need to tighten up on this.

7.    Then once the pots are selected I go back and check I have the correct delivery address, check to see if address given is a sneeky Rural Delivery one. (yes, I've been caught out by people not mentioning they live in the middle of nowhere) Some try to avoid paying extra RDelivery costs - it then comes out of my pocket, and believe me...they aren't that full.  It only happens once, as I put a big note against their name in case they try it again!

8.     Then I finally get round to actually packing the pots up.
I've learned that to skimp on the packing is just plain stupid.  There have been a few comments about my packing....most say "well done", a few will say "over done".  Really I'm not too bothered if they think it's over done, at least the pot got to them in one piece. Don't even get me started on the cost of bubblewrap, I now have an arrangement with a chap in town who gets it by the bucket loads!  After all, there is such a thing as a recycle bin in New Zealand.  They quite like to gobble up newspaper and bubblewrap and the odd cardboard carton.  We all have to do our bit with recycling after all.

9.  Then after packing and weighing (to make sure I haven't gone over the weight limit) it's out to the car for the trip into town.

10.  Yes, I live in a rural area, so I need to make a special trip into town to send off Courier parcels and parcels being sent via NZ Post. (ahh yes...the cost of extra petrol that I don't pass on for postage)

11.   Filling out the paperwork for Courier Dockets has become fairly automatic and a daily occurance at times. All of these need to be filed away until after the package has been delivered and the buyer has emailed back to say they're happy with them.

12.   Then there is the occasional parcel that seems to get stuck in transit somewhere and needs me to harass the Courier Company to find out "why". There appear to be alot of "New Courier Drivers" taking the blame for delays etc.  Sometimes a parcel going to Auckland may be delivered the next day, while something much closer to home like Dunedin will take 3 or 4.  It's something I have no control over.....everything else in the bonsai pot making process is controlled by me....but not that.

13.   Then before you know it, the process starts all over again.

So if I am a day or two late in sending the odd pot away, just think about the process I go through.  I'm helpers now...just me and the clay. 

Happy days.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

A New "Willow" Bonsai Pot

Waaay back a couple of years ago I made a pot when I was having a bit of a play round with shapes.  It was bought by a lady who was going to use it for her willows.

They need plenty of water and are quite at home being left in a dish full of the stuff....especially from Spring to Autumn.
Another bonsai enthusiast asked me about the middle of last year if I could make another one about the same.   The pot was made in no time at all, but waiting on the creation of another glaze that was similar to the original about as time consuming as watching paint dry :)

Well after 8 months I finally have a glaze that is pretty similar.
After the glaze was poured on.  This plain powdery looking glaze doesn't look anything like a blue/green....but after the kiln does its "magic" the result is nothing but amazing.
I use pretty basic equipment to do my glazing.  A glass jug, and a large washing/laundry basin.  Oh yes...and a stirring stick. The glaze ingredients tend to settle on the bottom of the bucket, so there is a compulsory stirring time before I begin of at least a couple of minutes with this one.
Snugly nestled in amongst some other pots.  I was a little worried that it may have been too close to the kiln elements, as sometimes these type of pots can "move" at high temps.  The last thing I needed was a pot stuck to the kiln wall with rock hard glaze.  Closed the kiln up....crossed my fingers and hoped the "kiln gods" would look over it favourably :)
Two days later!!   Really pleased with the outside.
The thicker this glaze is, the darker the blue.  The parts of the bonsai pot with just a single layer on the outside are a greenish colour.  The added grog in the clay adds to the inside texture of the "willow" pot.
I didn't put glaze right down to the bottom of the pot as was asked because I was a little unsure if it would run and stick to the kiln shelf below it.  With a single glaze layer, this one didn't run at all. 
It can be used for lots more....just the name "willow" pot stuck with me after that was what was planted in the original one.

It's always good to try something new.

NOTE:  I've just changed the sending of my email blog posts to "MailChimp" as the other was less than reliable.  So make sure you've subscribed on the form on the right.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Another Opportunity to Display our Club Bonsai

That time of year rolled around again.....the opportunity to display/show some of our club bonsai at the Gore Garden Club Show.
They support us every year with quite a long layered shelved space in their hall full of prize flowers/veges/crafts and childrens competitions.
It had been raining for the last couple of days so all of my trees were soaked and heavy to carry.  Not wanting to ruin the lovely material covering the show shelves, I bought the ones I was taking inside to dry out a bit.  They needed a big tidy up and a bit of trimming off of scorched leaves to make them look half pie decent.
Note to self....never leave scissors laying down on the floor.  Wee "Alfie" managed to chew off the end of the thumb hole on my only sharp pair.
Tidied up and put in the back of the wee car.  Quite a snug fit, but at least they wouldn't fall over.
Being the first to arrive with trees, I had the pick of positions in the different categories.  In the back of my mind I was really hoping that the other club members would bring quite a few more along.  It'd be a bit embarrasing to not have enough to cover the large area we had been given.
This group of Alders has been struggling all summer, not alot of leaves left on it.
The leaves on this Chinese Elm are on the verge of turning into their Autumn colours....perhaps the result of stress with a hot January 
I wasn't going to take this Pine, but I thought it was something a little it turned out, quite alot of people loved it.
This maple is displaying its Autumn colours a tad early....just beautiful.
Two days later I ventured back to Gore to collect my trees.  Thankfully another 4 club members had managed to bring along quite a few more trees as promised.   Phew!

We had a nice wee display of different styles and sizes of bonsai....even if we were gate crashed by some rather cute looking handmade dolls.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The First Kiln Load of Pots Since September

LIfe seems to get in the way of making bonsai pots.
I start out with the best intentions to spending most of the day out in the garage making pots, but somehow other things keep stepping in the way,  pushing me in a different direction.  Out to the car, into town, out to the garden, and dread of all directions....inside to do housework. :)
Alas.....after pinching a bit of time here and there over the last couple of months, there's finally a kiln load of finished pots to show for it. 

I have to say that I really like the matt green glaze on some of the drum and textured pots.  A thin single layer seems to do the trick, with a double dip on the rim.   Must make more of these.

Monday, November 6, 2017


Contrary to popular belief we in Southland do get the odd bit of sunshine. I'll have to dispell the myth that there are polar bears roaming our icy sub antartic streets at this end of the country.
This week we had a little too much too soon for some of my wee bonsai.   Mostly it was the deciduous trees that were affected.  They'd furiously been sending out fresh new growth, running riot after there long hibernation over winter.
We knew it was coming, they'd been forcasting unseasonally warm sunny days, but gosh, the last few days left both me and the trees feeling a little wilted!
I managed to water pretty much all of the trees in the morning, thinking that'll do them until wrong I was.
Hornbeam leaves
There isn't alot I can do about it now that the damage has been done. They've been put aside in a shady area to getover their sunstroke/sunburn and rehydrate properly.
The Italian Alder will probably recover as they're as tough as ol' boots, but the Hawthorn might be a different cup of tea.  There are a few small bits of green still remaining, but the rest of the leaves have been totalled.
Hoping that I havent lost this Hawthorn (below) completely.  It doesnt look good at all.  It's surprising just how quickly the leaves go brown when they've basically been cooked/dehydrated.
If this is the damage done to the leaves, it makes you wonder whats going on with the roots, cambium, phloem water transport system in the tree.   Only time will tell.
This Redwood feared a little better as it was only the very very soft tips that got scorched, a quick trim and you'd never notice the stress and trauma they'd been through.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED....listen to the weather forecast!  Make sure all of the water barrels and tanks are topped up ready for the onslaught of watering cans about to be dipped and splashed about.   Last of all, do a rain dance and pray for rain, during the night would be good ☂🌧

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ice Crystals are Beautiful, Also Unwanted

Ice Crystals are beautiful, as I found out this morning when I ventured out into the garage.

Jack Frost had let his presence known with a white layer of crystals over almost everything outside.

Not too welcome was the partially unassembled oval pots that I'd forgotten to bring inside last night.  Yes, it felt like there was going to be a frost, but didn't imagine it would be that hard.

After getting over the initial "Bugger" when I saw them, I was in awe of the intricate patterns the freezing water had made on the slab and around the oval sides.

    Just beautiful.
 Almost looks like a snowy landscape of mountains and trees if you stretch your imagination.
    Unfortunately these will have to go in the recycling bucket    as the water crystals have cracked and weakened the clay.
There are some potters who will put their pots back on the wheel and compress/smooth down the sides.  I tried this a few years ago and wasnt at all sucessfull.  Once the clay is weakened its not worth the effort to continue, always start again, especially with larger vessels. Making up a new slab base is easy enough.
The side of this oval was smooth yesterday, look how the expanding water has roughened it up. I may just wait until Sunday or Monday when they're forecasting a bit of rain and cloud.
Bonsai Pot making can be quite challenging during the winter!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Yikes.....It's Frosty

It's 10.45am and still no sun hits our much as I love trees, when the neighbours untrimmed trees shade our home most of the winter months I tend to get a bit grizzly.   With a frost it's even worse.
Fortunately my many bonsai trees don't give me that problem.  The only things they shade is the odd mushroom and pesky weeds.
Having frosty nights means that once again I have to haul my just made bonsai pots into the house where most of the time it's a bit warmer than the garage. I lost many out in the garage over the last few years as the wet clay froze and ruined was always the sneaky frosts that got them. Sometimes I'd go outside and think na there isnt going to be a frost tonight so I'll leave the pots I'd made that afternoon out there.  That's when you get caught out!

So once again the family has to share the kitchen table and any other spare area with a heap of wet clay pots.

We can't leave them on the ground any more as we now have a very curious little puppy who like to gallop over anything and everything. Clay would be lots of fun for him.

Roll on Spring.  Love it when the sun rises higher in the sky then.....means more sun coming through the windows than winter...sigh, just a few more months to wait!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Finding Inspiration in a Fallen Leaf

Sarah bought along a huge fallen Scarlet Oak leaf to our last Gore Bonsai Club Workshop.....picked up in the park while taking the dog for a run.  Great find!
Our theme for the day was Autumn Colour and used this with the help of a local lady who was in the Gore Photographic Club to attempt to better the use of our cameras.
I brought this leaf home and had a wee play with it.  Did the obvious thing - cutting out the leaf shape.  Then tried joining some of the offcuts to make the unusual looking accent bonsai pot.  Be interesting to see how it turns out with glaze on it.
I'll add a couple of random looking feet later.  Never would have made this pot if Sarah hadn't bought that leaf along.

Nature is the best inspiration for a lot of things in life.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Mossing up some small Bonsai

The members of the Gore Bonsai Club had the opportunity to learn from a local Photography Club member on how to take photos of our bonsai trees, and how to work our cameras in general.
We took along a few trees.  I personally think that they look so much better with a layer of fresh moss covering the soil - especially on smaller trees (shohin/mame)
I only had time to moss one tree at the workshop, but loved the result so much that I went home and picked a few smaller ones out and mossed them as well.
Love this little miniature Rhododendron, has a couple of purple flowers on it for some reason
A very young little native totara
A little maple that refuses to drop its leaves during the autumn!
This little maple was from a cutting 4 years ago, beautiful in leaf, the moss sets the colour of the bark and branches.  
I put these near my front door so I can see and enjoy the look of the green mossy blanket over the winter time. Some people say you shouldnt ever moss your trees unless they are going in an exhibition or show, but I figure that if you like it, do it.  It doesnt seem to hurt these wee fellas and gives me much pleasure.