Friday, 27 February 2015

Post 195 Tanuki update

I was doing a little tidy up job on a couple of my Sargent tanukis and thought I'd post them in another update.

This one was started in October 2013 and since the last look if filling out the pads well. It will very soon time to take off all the restraints.

As I have with this one which was the first one I made. The tree has pulled away a little on that first concave bend and I have been working on the right hand branch in particular. If you look at where it was in May 2014 you will see that I have now just about achieved the photoshop design from that earlier post. This has been the last branch to fill out but has done that this growing season. It will get its first 'outing' at a club shohin day in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Post 194 Adventures in grafting

One of the easiest trees to graft would have to be trident maple. That's helpful because the species also likes  to seal over wounds and not re-shoot, happy to photosynthesize through the bark. Here is one such case. The tree formed a quite formidable piece of callus over the cut and there's nothing better to graft into. Anticipating this may be the case I struck a couple of cuttings to graft back. Grafting into callus is a treat, incorporation takes no time at all.

This is what it's like once the tape comes off - rock solid and ready for separation. It might not look pretty right now but over a short time that will all change.

In January 2014 I chopped a number of Ficus benjamina 'shorty' trees that I'd had forever and was never really happy with the way they had evolved as a result of my neglect over years of working. This one was a fused multi-trunker which refused to re-shoot once chopped, demanding a number of grafts to be set. So in January 2014 it has a great base but it's a little hard to see where it's going and how long it's going to take.

Well the answer of course is that it is a ficus and given water and warmth nothing takes too long if you want to develop a small tree. Here it is 12 months later, about 220mm high. It needed something more at the back so the little black pot is the last of two recent grafts to build some depth at the back. They'll be ready for separation soon and then the plan is to widen the canopy, more to the left than the right and it should be ready for showing by October. 

From the earlier shot you can see that I've rotated the tree anticlockwise to bring the rock more into contention and avoid having it recede away from the viewer. It's a nice piece of water eroded/dissolved limestone - got some beautiful flow channels on it. I'll also slide the tree to the right about 15mm in the pot just to take if off center and bring the rock into the pot space, although I quite like the overhang.Taking a photograph is certainly a useful styling guide, you don't get confused by three dimensions.

In July last year I posted a story about inter species gardenia grafting. There was one recovered stump in a picture in that post that I did two Gardenia radicans grafts onto. At the time it had a nice little healthy tuft of its regular large leafed foliage. 
I got this one going this season around October. The grafted branches are very healthy and have been separated for about a month. The plan is to have the foliage movement down and to the left to offset the trunk inclination. It should make a nice small bonsai.

 In the next shot you can see the business ends of the grafts and that I've left the tape in place to allow further strengthening of the bond before removing it. 

 This is another of my ficus chop group. In October last year I posted about the air-layer I did on this one to take the top off the root over rock base. In that Post I illustrated the 'toothpick' technique for air layering. I'd seen it somewhere, though I'd give it a go and tried it on my celtis yammadori group as well. The net outcome is that it didn't work on the ficus and it didn't work on the celtis. Even when you do a full annular ring stripping, if you leave the slightest connection the layer is unlikely to respond well. With the toothpick technique you leave a lot more than a slight connection and there is no driver for the tree to make new roots there. 
So when I was sure nothing was happening and enough time had passed I reverted to the full annular ring strip and this had the desired result pretty quickly. There's a big learning there for anyone who is thinking of how to layer. Once it had produced roots I separated it  and put it into a larger pot.

Only in the last week did I take it out of that one and put it in a shohin pot. The canopy has filled out nicely and as it fills and extends more it will better obscure the chop transition. The new trunk line has bulked up well and in another year will be even better. Nice job and a good addition to my growing shohin collection.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Post 193 New pots in the making

The blog has been a little more weighted to bonsai than pots lately but I am still turning out a few. The kiln is in a bisque firing today with a batch of pots underway. My recent commission work has been mostly larger than smaller pots and there are a couple of those, to finish at 460 to 480mm, in the oven today.

This pot, just made in this shot, is one of two commission pots of the same shape and size. They are probably the largest I've made and largest I would want to. Made green to a length of 660mm and 100mm high with 10mm thick walls and base, makes flipping them an interesting game. I need to go back to the gym and lift some weights. I'm relying on the 5% shrinkage to bone dry to get them into the kiln and then eventually down to something like 575mm when glaze fired.
This pot is now drying and it will be a few weeks before its ready to fire for the first time.