teachings place Bonsai as the polarizing element combining the harmony
between natural elements, nature and man. The tree therefore being
inspired by nature; stones, soil and fine grit being the natural elements,
and man being symbolised in form of a container or pot.
Incidently, the Japanese word ‘bonsai’ literally translates to ‘tree in a
pot’ (bon=Pot, sai=Tree or Plant).
With the help of different techniques such as trimming, root reduction,
leaf cutting and wiring we are able to somewhat artificially form the tree
into a pleasing design. Let it be known though that this process can take
many years to achieve the desired results and it’s not an overnight
project. But, on the other hand, a well cared for tree can last sometimes
I prefer to work mainly on trees that are native to
our region and climate as they pose less problems in after care. My work
consists mainly on trees collected from the Alpine areas around Europe or
the so termed Yamadori material.
But, please be advised that many of these types of trees are under strict
environmental control so, before you dig……ask first! Simply tramping out
into the Alps with a pick (and you won’t get far with one) and trying to
dig out a tree is highly illegal. There are legal ways to get around all
the hassle and many a beautiful specimen can be obtained by simply getting
the land owners permission. Also, there’s the environmental aspect of it
in the form of avalanche control, shelter for animals, etc.
As you might have noticed from the pictures here on my web site, I tend to
specialise in conifers or evergreens. Not that I have anything against (or
can’t) style deciduous trees, it’s just that my day job doesn’t offer me
the opportunity to provide the care required during the growing season for
leaf type trees. It very often occurs, for example, that a maple will have
to be pinched as much as twice a day in order to keep the ramification
tight during the growing season. I do have a few though and those that I
do have keep me on my toes in spring time!
My students will progress not only through conifers but also through
deciduous type material also.
Next to the standard teaching techniques such as trimming, wiring and jin/shari
work of which I place great emphasis I will also help the student to
develop his or her own style. What’s more important for me to instil into
my students is trying to get the feeling and bind with the tree. During
the process of styling I believe the artist and tree should become one.
That is important for me.
some impressions about practising
with my students:
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What I do not offer is a structured learning program.
That we all got from our teachers in school and most of us are glad to be
out of that situation. It should be above all an enjoyable experience. Hey
remember, it’s not rocket science……its art!
But to start out, I can offer you a few examples to wet your appetite in
the art of styling Yamadori material in my studio.
1. I can guide
you over a longer period in order to obtain your goal. With this
program we can make out set dates which we can work together on your tree.
You make the decision how long and how much you will require my assistance.
If need be I can also come to your residence to work on your material.
2. Seasonal Workshops. During these workshops
I will concentrate strictly on themes pertaining only to that season.
Example: When do I pluck the needles on a Mugo Pine? How do I prepare my
trees for winter?
3. Group Workshops. I will take groups up to
a maximum number of 6 participants. Anymore then 6 becomes ineffective for
the students involved. Themes will vary depending on the time of year but
workshops can vary from basic to advanced. Workshops can either be by me
here or you can name the place.
4. Residency. You can come and spend 2, 3 or
more days with me to work on your or my material over a concentrated
period of time. This is also a very highly effective way of learning but
needs to be well planned out in advance in order not to have any
For all workshops and courses overnight
possibilities can be arranged.
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