Bonsai workshops

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Bonsai workshops

Post  Chisky on Tue Aug 28, 2012 10:38 am

Hi. I just found out about a Bonsai Show that is going to be held at the Morten Arboretum next month. It is offering workshops. I am interested in attending one and asked my kids to come with me. My son thinks it is expensive and not worth it.

I told him that I'm pretty sure that you get a small tree to work with at the workshop and that you would be able to keep it. I'm spanking brand new at this and thought I would get some valuable tips and some hands on experience with a teacher present.

Has anyone been to a workshop? Are they worth the money and time?

Chisky
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Re: Bonsai workshops

Post  fiona on Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:10 am

Can't speak for how things work over the pond but here in the UK the norm is that you take along a tree or trees if your own that you want to work on. If it is a one-off workshop, people will take either something that is pretty much in its raw state or something they aren't happy with. In either case, it's to get the benefit of the "expert advice" offered by the person who is headlining the workshop. If it is one in a series by the same expert, then folk will possibly bring along the same tree so they can keep progressing it.

Over here, if you are being offered a tree as part of the workshop, the advert/announcement will tell you this. Usually if a tree is offered as part of the workshop then the event price will be higher. And again, over here, generally speaking the more "expert" the expert is, then the higher the cost will be as the top folk charge higher fees than those further down the chain. As I say, that's how it works here. Why not check with the workshop organiser if a tree is offered as part of the event.


To answer the second part of the question, if you are relatively new to bonsai, then a workshop is a good move as it could cut out a few years of doing things incorrectly. But make sure it is the right level of workshop for your own ability - no point in going along to something way over your head. Find out if the workshop is intended for novice, intermediate or advanced or if it caters for all levels.

Hope that helps.

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Re: Bonsai workshops

Post  JimLewis on Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:47 pm

Over here, if you are being offered a tree as part of the workshop, the advert/announcement will tell you this. Usually if a tree is offered as part of the workshop then the event price will be higher. And again, over here, generally speaking the more "expert" the expert is, then the higher the cost will be as the top folk charge higher fees than those further down the chain. As I say, that's how it works here. Why not check with the workshop organiser if a tree is offered as part of the event.

At least around here, it is reversed. The announcement tells you if it is a bring-your-own-tree event. Otherwise, the workshop leader or the show provides the tree. And yes, it is more expensive. USUALLY, some care has been taken in the selection of the trees for the workshop . . . but not always.

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Re: Bonsai workshops

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:52 pm

Has anyone been to a workshop? Are they worth the money and time?


Only you can determine if the workshop is worth the money and the time. As to cost the organization should have a website with details, if not call them and ask or show up and leave if you don't like the deal.

I think you would get something from a workshop, as to $ and time value?

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Re: Bonsai workshops

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Tue Aug 28, 2012 1:11 pm

I went to the web site and looked at the workshops. The cost ranges from $65 to 70 but includes pot and tree. I don't recognize the names of any of the instructors but that just means they are locals, not national. As to the workshops the first one with Ficus is probably the easiest tree to keep alive, except it is not cold hardy so will need winter protection. I think the scientific name of the Ficus is misspelled. The other offerings are more winter hardy but I would question doing a full repot this time of year. There is a kids workshop for $35 with a Scheff, that is also tropical and could be repoted now.

Is $65 for a Ficus workshop a good deal? It would depend upon the quality of the material and the quality of the pot. Even an inexpensive small pot is $10 retail, if it is ceramic. A so called mica pot a little less and a cheap light plastic pot is about $1.50.

As a beginner it would be hard for you to judge.

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Re: Bonsai workshops

Post  Russell Coker on Tue Aug 28, 2012 3:03 pm



Since you're new at this it sounds like a good place to get some hands-on experience - even at 65 or 70 bucks. You gotta start somewhere so why not jump in?

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Re: Bonsai workshops

Post  Poink88 on Tue Aug 28, 2012 3:19 pm

It depends on you and how you learn.

I've never been to one but I learn by looking at pics, reading tutorials, & watching video easy enough to understand the process. If something doesn't "click", I ask here and get the answer I need (and more). Join a local club, they usually have workshops and on mine, it is free (monthly too!...and I still haven't been to one Embarassed ). For me, I would invest that money in a good book instead. Later, when I need/want a workshop, I will do it with a master like Ryan Neil or someone of that caliber Very Happy (yes I do dream)

The biggest thing is not how to bonsai right away but how to understand & read your tree. It tells you things by the color of it's leaves, it's growth pattern, etc. (it varies by species) Once you got that down and you can keep them healthy (not just surviving)...then move on to bonsai techniques. JMHO.

Good luck!!!

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Re: Bonsai workshops

Post  Mitch Thomas on Tue Aug 28, 2012 3:48 pm

If you really want to learn bonsai the best way to do it is from experienced teachers! The cheapest way is to join a club about $25 per year 30 for family per year a meeting each month. Our club has at least 2 workshops per year with a visiting master, he or she, usually brings quaility material ( at a extra cost) to teach you thier techniques. Most of my best material has come from them!

A win win situation, go for it!

Mitch

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Re: Bonsai workshops

Post  fiona on Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:19 pm

I'm going to add a rider based on what others have said.

First, there are workshops and there are workshops and a lot depends on the skill and attitude of the teacher(s). At this stage in my bonsai life I am very selective about who I take workshops with and there are some people I (and this is very much a personal thing) just wouldn't go near. This one of yours is being run by the Prairie State Bonsai society? Can we assume that the teachers are likely to be members of that club? Don't discount that as often they are good teachers - don't assume a "big name" is always better than a well-informed, skilled amateur who knows how to put across his/her points in that situation. A big name who is there as an ego trip would not be my choice of teacher.

Second, Dario mentions "how he learns" and that is a good point to bear in mind. I personally don't like group workshops having I have found over recent years that I just don't learn much from them, and I am quite happy to pay significantly more for a 1 to 1. For a beginner though, a group session has advantages - most especially in getting to meet other bonsai folk in your area with whom you could keep up at a later point. It is also usually a fairly sociable event with the emphasis as much on fun as learning. You probably won't (as long as it's a beginner level event as appears to be the case) be inundated with too much learning at the one time and you probably wont feel as if others are way ahead of you in terms of knowledge and experience.

Is it worth the money? Very much your call but comparing it to over here, $70 (£45) for a 3 hour group session with a non-professional teacher is slightly higher than we'd pay (we'd pay about £25- £30.) But we wouldn't be getting provided with a tree and a pot for that, so it boils down to whether you think you can get a tree and a pot for $15 or $20.

AS Russell says, you've got to start somewhere and as long as you're comfortable learning in a group and as long as you're sure the session is set at the right level for you, then I'd go for it.

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Re: Bonsai workshops

Post  JimLewis on Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:42 pm

In a group setting, the instructor can't spend a LOT of time with you, but over here where most people will be working on the same species of tree provided by the instructor, you can learn from listening to the instructor talk to other participants.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Bonsai workshops

Post  marcus watts on Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:00 pm

looking back over the last 20 years that I've played about with little trees you can waste a lot of time going down the self taught route and all your trees will only reach the same standard. You can waste years experimenting on your material, or worse still waiting for them to do something they may never do. Also books, internet etc is 2 dimensional and you will end up only learning to make flat trees.

I'd say start on the right foot - learn from the hands on experience of those that have done it before and look at every $ spent as an investment in the eventual quality your trees will reach.

£45 for a tree, a pot, the workshop etc is a great way to start - especially if you can borrows tools etc. Then hunt nurseries for similar trees and practice what you learnt. I aim for two workshops a year - the hobby is always moving forward and we never stop learning.

enjoy

Marcus

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