are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:40 pm

"Billy, a pot can be appreciated in its own right without a tree in it but can a tree be appreciated in its own right without a pot?"

A tree without a pot is not a Bonsai.

A pot that will never hold a tree is not a bonsai pot.

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Pots.

Post  lennard on Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:41 pm

I am following this thread right from the beginning and do have 50 trees in "one of a kind" pots. I can call up all 50 trees- the species, the style, where I got it etc., but I can not describe(shape, color, rim, feet etc.) each pot they are planted in - the pots are almost ......invisible to me. We also had a regional meeting in October and I can remember quite a few of the trees, but can not tell you anything of the pots they were planted in- were all the pots so bad that my mind cut them out?

Or is it a case of that I am a beginner and I am concentrating on the trees now and when I have mastered the tree part of the hobby, I will start looking at "the best pot", "the best stand", "the best scroll" etc. ?

I do follow the threads of all the potters on this forum and there are times that I think that a tree of mine will look good in one of the "strange" pots.

I have a few trees in the African tree styles and I do believe some of my trees would look good in Venda/African styled pots(that would be the texture, color and pattern).

Venda/African pots:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jochurchill/3817036047/

Obviously they will have to be commissioned because the don't make bonsai pots! Maybe one of the fine artists posting on this site can see this as a challenge...or maybe too affraid

A pot like that would be a "regional" or "cultural" thing - don't think it would be appreciated everywhere?

My personal feeling towards a pot is that it should not over power the tree, it must compliment it.

Very educational thread - keep the opinions coming.

Lennard






Last edited by lennard on Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:48 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Word choice and link not working)

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  marcus watts on Sat Dec 15, 2012 8:12 pm

I knew I'd get you back on Andy Very Happy Very Happy you cant keep a good potter down haha

the fact you envision a tree while 'doing' a pot is the main thing, and it will make many of them not only usable but the finished compositions will probably be really good too. The most important page on a potter web site should be 'clients trees in my pots' - and I would personally aim for a 'hall of fame' page with show winners, published pictures etc when they come about. This shows the potter is bonsai minded and not just ceramics orientated.

A pot that is so odd there is no tree for it is just an object - an art piece or it could be a 'collectable' if the work was exeptional and the pinacle of the artists ability so worth collecting. if every thing they make is like this though they are not bonsai potters really, but artists looking for alternative outlets to sell pots.

A tree unpotted? it could be many things if it is in or on something (slate, slab, rock, wood, or a modern invisible base etc) these can all be bonsai. Many trees in pots are not bonsai though, so a combination of the 2 elements to make Bonsai is not the simplistic 50/50 equation....I have unstyled garden acers in large ceramic pots but they are never bonsai.... i also have very styled standard bay trees and olives - trunks twisted in spirals and tops clipped - both in pots, but still not bonsai. If i take one of my bonsai out of the pot and lay it on the ground, covered in moss and surrounded by gravel it is still a bonsai - NO pot needed - just like those amazing famous forest plantings in Japan - formed by Kato - now in a gravel garden setting - if they are in pots or slabs they are buried out of site so again 50/50 is out the window - a great tree can do 100/0, it needs no pot

I have to admit that as my trees finally get a bit better I like subtle pots for them, and for me shape and proportion is the essential number 1 - as a beginner I used pots much too big, workmanship comes next (lines, feet, lips, edges etc). This leaves coarse textures, holes, added bits and taken away bits.....these just don't appeal anymore - they fill up with dirt and algae that has to be scrubbed and jet washed away rather than a smoother pot that gets a rub of oil and ages gracefully. My one cracked appearing pot is a faily large and beautiful old Cream/off white Gordon Duffet pot with crackle glaze- but being glazed it is smooth, is easily oiled and rubbed.........and it is the only good pot i have with no tree in it yet as the tree is having all the branches regrown / graftted etc for the next few years

Yes Mandy and I are certainly at Noelanders on the saturday - we'll be over for a visit to you and Tony for sure.

cheers everyone

Marcus

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  Guest on Sun Dec 16, 2012 3:33 am

Marcus,

In order to aide some of us readers, can you post some pictures of pots that you are calling unusable? I have seen some Japanese pots that have very bright or gaudy glazes... some Japanese pots have very elaborate carvings as well.

Since I haven't seen a lot of unusable Modern Western pottery, some pictures will help.

Guest
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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  Ryan B on Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:01 am

I was recently admonished by Bill Valavanis for referring to pots as "pots". At first, I was like, "help off that high horse?"...sir. Then I spent 30 seconds thinking about and Bill, as he often is, is correct. "Containers" should be our semantic choice. A rock is not a pot, but it serves every single function of the pot, and is the container for the tree. A slab is not a pot, but it IS the container for the tree or grove upon it. Michael Hagedorns non-container plantings still have mesh and plywood and keto to hold the tree in a containerized shape. So, done deal, "containers....not pots". Seems I bought a shite website name ;-)
Now, for the logic. Why do the containers in Kokufu and Gafu albums work so well? Pick a pine, any pine. Pick a maple, any one will do. And imagine it a brand new container of identical Shape and size, shiny, unaged(and often of poor clay(because they great nattie clays were gone shortly after the cultural revolution)....is it as good, in it shiny new pot...
I applaud western potters for all the pots the make that have a simulated age, when new. And I also applaud potters with minimal use of texture, the comb is powerful, but heavy handed contemporarily. I've seen, first hand, some of the greatest Bonsai from Japan planted in Tire tread pots, and still thought "I would've done that differently". Check out Doug Paul's collection on my website...those trees are still 70-80% of the composition...and overshadowed, or run over by "tire marks"...I would have done it differently, but it's still the most impressive collection outside of Japan.
Ryan, aka the devils advocate
http://japanesebonsaipots.net/

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  Rob Addonizio on Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:57 pm

Hello again,
Just a couple more ramblings...

Ryan, I would love to see the 'tire tread' textured pots that you mentioned. I have done some work lately using a similar technique, but without a comb. I have fun making these, but I know that there will be times people will put the wrong tree in them. But, I also know, that there are bonsai artists out there who can make the tree and pot 'sing'. Of course, that is the case with any good bonsai artist isn't it... Laughing

As far as these types of pots being used lately, I agree more often than not, they are overpowering against the tree. What we need for this type of idiom to develop, is for more contemporary artists to show how or why they work with their subjects/trees. Sure, we see a lot of us here posting these types of pots, but we don't see good examples of tree/pot combos that work well, at least not yet....
Food for thought?


Rob

PS I absolutely LOVE your blog; please don't change a thing!

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  peter krebs on Sun Dec 16, 2012 5:51 pm

Hi Rob,

in the German Forum, there are discussions of this kind.
It is great pleasure to show virtual some pots compositions.

http://www.bonsai-fachforum.de/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=28616

Best wishes
Peter
______________________________________
The World Of The Pot http://www.peter-krebs.de

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  marcus watts on Sun Dec 16, 2012 11:18 pm

good evening aman

firstly have you seen the japanese pots you describe used successfully with high quality trees in them? or were they sat empty hoping to tempt buyers or collectors. We know that shohin pots will often have bright colours, painted images etc but these have evolved into their own style and have their own display boundaries. - this thread has been talking more about other pots used for larger bonsai sizes

I also dont think it right to single out a pot or in fact the artist who made it by showing a container they may have been made just to sell because I think it is unusable. As everyone reading knows full well every vessel is useable to put a tree in or on - i could use my sunday dinner roasting dish if i punch a few holes in it, or in fact the dining room table.

Also it is often newer people to the hobby who buy the outlandish pots....the "oh wow, look at that, it looks great" impulse when seeing a picture or sales table....so i am not going to show pictures of mismatched trees and pots that may belong to beginners as everyone needs to learn by experience. Then it comes to the real point - just about every decent show gallery with the best trees portrays them in high quality traditional pots - so the people matching up and showing great trees are not even using these off the wall styles of container -so i guess they mostly sit unphotographed with trees in them on the back benches somewhere.

it would be more intersting if you look personally at the potters sites and threads and decide what you would put in each pot listed - on some potters sites every container shown could easily combine with a tree, but many of these pots will look nothing like the pictures once they are planted and have sat outside a year or two as deep textures just fill with dirt and algae quickly.

Maybe the modern finishes need to be kept clean and shiny new ?

cheers all




Last edited by marcus watts on Sun Dec 16, 2012 11:33 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  BigDave on Sun Dec 16, 2012 11:27 pm

peter krebs wrote:Hi Rob,

in the German Forum, there are discussions of this kind.

Thank you Sir,
Google translate makes it easy for me... real inspiring, as is your website

Thanks again
-big Dave

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  marcus watts on Sun Dec 16, 2012 11:37 pm

peter krebs wrote:Hi Rob,

in the German Forum, there are discussions of this kind.
It is great pleasure to show virtual some pots compositions.

http://www.bonsai-fachforum.de/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=28616

Best wishes
Peter
______________________________________
The World Of The Pot http://www.peter-krebs.de

that shows some excelent examples of how the pot affects the same trees - some pictures you dont see the trees, some pictures you dont see the pots - and it is easy to see the very wrong combinations too- lots can be gained from that thread

thanks for showing it to us

Marcus

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  JudyB on Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:36 am

Thank you Peter krebs for that link. Very instructive, as I have no luck with tree/pot combos despite trying very hard.

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  Ryan B on Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:49 am

Billy,
It's going to take me a loooong time to photograph and scan in all the images I have referenced on file of Bonsai trees in Tofukuji pots from Kokufu and Gafu Ten, but you've inspired me to do so, and I've created a new page on my website. I've only made it through one album, 67, and yanked a couple out of 60. Pulling images out of Gafu Ten books will take much longer....every fourth or fifth pot is a Tofukuji. If you'd like some other stats about Kokufu pots, the most popular are antique Chinese, a close second is Suzuki Syuzan, then Gyozan, then Tofukuji. I think Tofukuji would be more popular in the big one....but he didn't make many large pots at all.
I'll be continually adding to this section as I find time to capture the images. Please note the apparent lack of warpage, bubbles, and visible cracks, with all due respect.....
http://japanesebonsaipots.net/bonsai-trees-in-tofukuji-pots/
Ryan
http://japanesebonsaipots.net/


Last edited by Ryan B on Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:53 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Forgot to quip)

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Peter Krebs

Post  reddog on Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:23 am

Peter,
thanks for sharing the link. This helps better understand some of the differences. Great web site you have! Cool

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  Ryan B on Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:44 am

Thanks for the plug Rob, good to know some potters whose work I like and own are reading ;-)
I agree with Marcus though, no need to single out a single porters work or show a pot that I think is unusable. I will say this emphatically, while on tour in the northeast recently, I stopped in to see The Kennett Collection. While many of the pot/tree combos were not what I would have chosen, And featured a hearty selection of the very type of ultra textured and "unusable" pots that we're talking about here, it didn't detract from the trees at all...perhaps all that is needed to make a tire tread pot usable is 10000$ Japanese import, or a pricey dicey yamadori, so outstanding that no pot could overpower it....
Ryan
http://japanesebonsaipots.net/

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  Stone Monkey on Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:29 am

Rob Addonizio wrote: I absolutely LOVE your blog; please don't change a thing!

I totally agree Rob.

Ryan us potters appreciate all your input and hard work it is invaluable, plus I got to find out a few Japanese pot makers that I possess.

Regards to all

Andy

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  Ryan B on Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:02 am

Thanks Andy,
Research is easy in comparison to clay work....you guys have the hard jobs, it's easy being a historian(and probably pays off just the same...)
Ryan
http://japanesebonsaipots.net/

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:54 am

Ryan B wrote:Billy,
http://japanesebonsaipots.net/bonsai-trees-in-tofukuji-pots/
Ryan
http://japanesebonsaipots.net/

Ryan
Thanks for this, although I would probably not have chosen those pots for those trees, I don't think that are they radical. The pots I was thinking of are much more radical in design then these. Most of the pots you posted so far seem to be traditional shapes, with interesting glazes. In some cases it looks like the potter was trying to emulate antique Chinese pots.
I attended ASPAC in Takamatsu and Taikan-ten, Kyoto in 2010, but that has been my only trip to Japan. I have to say that I enjoyed the display of trees at ASPAC more than Taikan-ten. I thought there was a lot at Taikan-ten that was very contrary to tradition, including the use of a small desk as a display stand and one Quince with lots of wired on fruit. I have to admit to not paying much attention to the pots at these shows.
Billy

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  Kakejiku on Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:18 pm

marcus watts wrote:Dale - why are you so defensive and sarcastic - you are an excelent artist, no-one is disputing that and never was, but i think some artists are wanting the pot to be the main attraction, and that is not the way this hobby is, and it never will be. (if bonsai potters had their own national shows and awards it may be different) You are very vocal about you pots, too right they are your babies - do you see many perfectly matched with trees - serious question as we dont see a lot of the USA scene in the uk atm

I believe a couple weeks back I saw one of Dale's pots with one of Bill Valvanis's trees on Facebook,...or maybe I am remembering incorrectly and it was one of Dale's trees that Bill had bought?


Last edited by Kakejiku on Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:26 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo...forgot a verb.)

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  Gwyther on Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:45 pm

Hi All

Great thread, first of i think everyone has a right to their own opinion and who is to say who is right ?
I though i would add to this thread because i often hear remarks about our pots being quite overstated !!! Very Happy

I wrote an article on how to 'choose a pot for a bonsai' a little while ago. After some thought this how i began -

[b] "I often hear the bonsai pot likened to a picture frame however I’m not sure this is the correct way to describe the relationship between a bonsai and its pot. I think that a more holistic definition would be more appropriate to describe the partnership. A picture frame is like a window to focus the viewer’s attention onto the picture. The frame surrounds the picture and remains distinct from it. A bonsai pot should be an extension of the tree and should create visual harmony. Whilst viewing a bonsai neither pot or tree should be dominant but should appear as one entity."

To achieve this i don't think a pot has to be understated. It needs to complement features within the tree, bark, leaves, carving, flowers, fruit etc.

Many tree pot combinations i see are picture frame compositions, as opposed to tree and pot flowing together as one. Again obviously just my opinion and i know that many definitely would not agree.

To be completely honest artistic aspirations aside, i feel the main driving force behind any potters production will be sales (as with any other financial endeavour ? ), if we don't sell the pots that we make then we go out of business.

The pots we make have a unique distinctly 'Erin Pottery' style, this has developed gradually over many years. In the past the more "Interesting" pots that we made, whether glazed or unglazed seem to sell very fast, so naturally we made more of what sells.

Cheers Smile

Vic


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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  Ryan B on Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:55 pm

Vic,
Right on! I've been spouting off about the unsuitability of the "frame analogy" for years! Glad you posted this. I love your pots too, btw, they're outstanding.
Billy,
This is just a small selection from one Kokufu Ten album. Tofukuji pots arent very outlandish, though often the kiln change glazes are. That's kind of the point. Tofukuji pots are unique and different, artistic and individualistic, WITHOUT being loud and ostentatious. I think it's much tougher to exhibit quiet artistry than it's louder, over the top counterpart.
Ryan
http://japanesebonsaipots.net/


Last edited by Ryan B on Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:59 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Why does autocorrect always change pots to pits?)

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  dan butler on Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:46 pm

level320 wrote:hi,
several years ago i did not care about pots, it was unfortunately a part
of the game called bonsai, the tree was the goal. it took me a few years more to find out that bonsai is only good with good pots.
and for me i figured out that the japanese/chinese classic pots suit best for my taste...... i like them most and therefore i purchase them
whenever possible.


i think this is the point, it is the style of bonsai that you are interested in, and from which direction you aproach it as an art form.
if you start bonsai influenced by traditional bonsai literature and teachings as we all used to then you will develop trees for their silluet which is a good starting point and i see as a form of the bonsai art in its self. more often than not the tree will be grown in to that image from young. branch placement, taper, ramification pad definition etc etc will be the goal, a classical bonsai which will look good in a classic pot. a classic pot is a safe bet what ever your tree. and yes on a show bench i would argue such a tree probably looks at its best presented in such a pot.

this is turned on its head when you start to break from these conventions and traditions, and i think western or european bonsai has reached its teens in this respect. bonsai exactly as the world of fine art has learned from the conventions and traditions of the old masters, we have coppied, emulated and re hashed... now we are ceating our own style. not a better style, not a lesser style but another style. we dont hang modern art in the same way as the old masters used to hang an oil painting, so why would we display our trees as the old bonsai masters used to?

as a bonsai potter with a fine art/ceramics background i see the display of any art form as important as the art, in this case bonsai. if you have an unconventional tree why not an unconventional pot. i have seen trees which would for ever be resigned to the back garden make it to the show bench because of the pot they were put in, not because the pot makes up for the tree, but because the tree is able to reach its potential. surly this s the point of a pot.

that is the begining of my artistic debate at least, as a potter i make what sells, thankfully every one has their own ideas and that makes life interesting. long live the tradition of breaking tradition.


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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  peter krebs on Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:53 am

Hi Marcus,

Here are two articles about modern Japanese bonsai pots.

http://www.bonsaipots.net/index.php?page=takagi-1
http://www.bonsaipots.net/index.php?page=takagi-2

Best wishes
Peter
______________________________________
The World Of The Pot http://www.peter-krebs.de

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:47 am

Thanks Peter for those links.

A place we have not gone with this discussion.

How healthy are some of these more exotic pots for the trees? (drainage, volume of soil)

Billy

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Re: are modern pots going in the right direction? my thoughts and hopefully yours

Post  peter krebs on Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:16 pm

Hi Billy,

these pots are suitable for 100% for bonsai. Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

Best wishes
Peter

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Car Tyre Pot

Post  Tony on Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:02 pm

A different car tyre pot, rather suits the tree me thinks Cool


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