First off, I'm very new to bonsai. (Ignore the post count, it means nothing.) I've been studying bonsai for just under a year and although I'm very exuberant in my interest in the art form, I am still a neophyte. This was made very evident when I attended a workshop with Sandro Segneri on Monday, 5/17/2010.
I showed up with two junipers that I had purchased at a local nursery. He looked at them and chose one and said We'd work on that one. I could tell by the look on his face that was wasn't impressed with either of them. Then I looked at what the other people had brought with them, and I felt my heart sink.
I had hamburger and they had fillet mignon. But, it's what I had to work with, so what could I do?
First, he had me cut down the nursery pot to the soil line, then work around the trunk to discover the nebari. Well, there wasn't much there. Another disappointment.
Next, he had me use a brush and sandpaper to remove the old bark until it was down to a soft, cinnamon color. I had never done this to a trunk before. Next, we removed some of the lower branches and made jins and carved shari below them. I had never carved shari before.
Next, I wired the secondary and tertiary branches, clockwise or counter-clockwise based on the direction they were to be adjusted. I didn't know there was a way to wire based on the direction of the movement desired.
So, as you can see, I learned quite a bit from the workshop. I felt like a first grader attending a college course. Sandro was great, and he took the time to show me how to do the different tasks and didn't make me feel like I was wasting his time.
One of the most important things I learned was not to waste money buying garbage trees. I'd go and spend $10 here and $15 there to acquire what I now recognize as ugly sticks in pots. No taper to the trunks. No nebari. No character at all. I went home and looked at what trees I have collected over the past year and wanted to throw it all on the compost heap.
I didn't, but surely wanted to. The one juniper I have that has any real potential is still on the cusp of mortality after being gathered from my friend's yard.
Now, I made myself a promise. No more junky trees.
Instead of throwing my money away on mediocre stock, I'm going to purchase decent pre-bonsai trees that have real potential. I'll keep my other trees around to fiddle with, but no more wasting my time acquiring low-potential trees.
I felt like I grew up a little bit this week.
Link to some pictures from the workshop and lecture.