Thursday, 12 November 2015

A Little Bit of Kiwiana/New Zealand Style Decoration on #Bonsai Pots

While I really enjoy making and glazing bonsai pots, I get a real kick out of carving the odd one.  It does take quite a bit of time, but well worth the effort in my opinion.

I have the utmost respect and admiration for the potters who over the last few centuries have created some very ornate porcelain bonsai pots. The intricate brush strokes on some of these leave me in awe of the artistic skills and patience of their creators.  We see many of these still around in collections in various countries....never used, still in their original wooden boxing. Now far too valuable and rare to be used for their original purpose.  Although sometimes for very special occasions they may be brought out for display.

Plain and subdued are words that are bandied around when it comes to bonsai pots these days.  The colour/style shouldn't overtake or catch your eye more than the tree that goes into it. Conifers/pines must always go into plain brown unglazed pots, while deciduous trees can be put in glazed pots. While it is sometimes good to follow the rules, it is however just a guideline. it is also your own personal opinion on what goes with what that matters.  As long as you're happy with it.

Did anyone tell the old Chinese bonsai masters that their intricately decorated white porcelain bonsai pots were wrong?  No, I don't think so, they were treasured.  Looking at the patterns and drawings on these old pots your immediate reaction is to think about the snow topped mountains in Japan/China and you knew straight away where they came from.

Every potter has their own style, some create pots that are "way out there!", and in your face at first glance.  Others stick to the more conventional look, happy to recreate the same pieces over and over again, either by slip casting or molds. 

However I like to do a bit of everything. When I walk out into our garage I sometimes have a rough idea of what to make, but sometimes I just wait and see what happens. There's no way I could ever be a production potter, the repetition would drive me potty. It already has judging by some of the looks I get from hubby!

Back to the original idea for this post.  Just showing how I go about carving a pattern into a leather hard bonsai pot.
If you leave the pot to get too hard and dry, there's no way that you can carve anything into the walls.  On the other hand, if its still to wet the pieces of clay that are carved out will just stick to the pot and cant be rubbed or brushed off easily and end up as globs on the pattern.
Usually about half way through I use a fairly soft paint brush to flick off the extra clay from the pattern.  This is a fairly random pattern, so you cant really make mistakes, but if you do want to change something, just rub your finger tip gently over the ridge, and redo it.
All done......ready to sit back on the shelf and dry slowly before bisque and glaze firing.
The finished pot,  I'd washed quite a bit of the oxide off to highlight the pattern, but sometimes it can have an interesting look without rubbing any off at all.
Everything has been going so well lately that I've decided to try making a few oval pots once again.  They can be quite frustrating to complete successfully, but I'm up for the challenge.....hopefully.