The secret of the colors

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The secret of the colors

Post  peter krebs on Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:47 am

Hello bonsai lovers,

colors play an important role when selecting a bonsai pot.
The appearance of a tree can be considerably improved by a pot with a proper glaze color.

First you have to ask the question: what kind of tree do I have?

Is it deciduous or evergreen, a young or an old tree, feminine or masculine, bears it fruit, and what color is the flower etc. According to these criteria the pot is selected.
Here are some examples given for a green maple, a red maple, and for an oak.

You can even ask the question: suppose I have a shiny or matte glaze, which shape should be chosen? A convex shape, bowl shape, straight edge, rim with outward lip, inwards rim, or rim with s-shape?
What kind of feet should the pot have? Cloud-shaped feet, cats, facial, nose, bridges, elephant, moon, connection, lion, thunder, or other kind of feet?
There are so many questions, a never-ending story!


Color for a young green maple.

Color for an old green maple.

color for a young red maple.

Color for an old red maple.

Color for a young oak.

Color for an old oak.

I wish you much joy while Discuss.

Best regards
peter krebs

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Re: The secret of the colors

Post  fiona on Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:24 pm

Oh Lord, Peter, you've got my brain in overdrive now! Here's what it has come up with - can you tell me if this is a million miles off target or if there's even the faintest grain of logic in it. Lovely pots by the way:

I'm seeing that in each of the examples you give, the older the tree the darker the shading on the pot. If it doesn't cause too much of a language issue, it's what I as a layman would term "damping down" - damping in this case having the meaning of being subdued and nothing to do with getting wet!. It's what I associate with the term "patina" and in turn the acquisition of a patina is something I associate with an ageing process.

So I'm reading it that pots too can look young and old, and an old tree in a young pot will look incongruous and vice versa. It's a bit like the white- or grey-haired older person (of either gender) who has had botox - it just don't look right!

Although it's a generalisation and there'll be numerous exceptions, I'm seeing shiny as equating more to young, and matte to older. Very intersting. I'm away to see how my own trees stand up to this. But I'll wait until you tell me if I'm waaaaaay off the mark first.

Then I'll start worrying about feet!

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Re: The secret of the colors

Post  jrodriguez on Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:51 pm


Aging is a very important aspect of bonsai. For example, a newly pottted tree, in my opinion, gives a feeling of infancy due to the fact that the composition has not merged to become one. I have often seen this and it seems to be that both the pot and the tree are distinct elements rather that two attributes of a whole.

In Taiwan and japan, old trees are often placed in antique pots or in old looking pots. For example, the rugged appearance of Guandong (Canton) pottery blends well with old rugged trees. Because of this fact, their emerald green and deep blue pots are highly valued in Japan. Also, nanban pottery and other primitive pots go well with contorted and rugged trees such as junipers, pemhis or even pines.

The art of selecting a pot is a very tedious subject. I think the simplicity in which Peter explained the basics of container selection is very good.

Kind Regards,
Jose Luis

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Re: The secret of the colors

Post  Storm on Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:55 pm

Interesting subject indeed. Gives me something to think about..

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Re: The secret of the colors

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