NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

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NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  William N. Valavanis on Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:09 pm

An advanced group of members from our local Bonsai Society of Upstate New York recently formed the "Upstate New York Suiseki Study Group" to increase our understanding and appreciation of suiseki. Yesterday we had our first meeting with Sean Smith from Pennsylvania which was held at the International Bonsai Arboretum in Rochester, New York. We were indeed fortunate to have Sean Smith as our first speaker since he is considered one of the top suiseki authorities outside of Japan and also the number one daiza carver outside of Japan according to Arishigi Matsuura, chairman of the Nippon Suiseki Association.

First Sean asked each one of our 13 members why they like suiseki. Some liked the thrill of collecting stones, some enjoyed their beauty regardless of personally collecting them or purchasing somewhere, a couple of our skilled members liked carving wooden daiza for their stones. For some like me, we enjoy the use of suiseki to display with bonsai to create a more natural scene and also the appreciation and aesthetics of formal suiseki display.

Then Sean gave each member a piece of clay and had us form an "idealized" or "perfect" suiseki. He even provided blue plastic gloves to keep from getting dirty. The results were very, very interesting! After discussing each newly formed "suiseki", Sean commented on some of each member's personal stones from their collections which they brought in for comments. We discussed the placement in suiban and also daiza design.

Finally, to conclude his four hour program Sean showed several Powerpoint presentations on the appreciation of suiseki in Japan. Exhibitions were discussed as well as how the wooden storage boxes, daiza and scrolls are made. Every one of our members thoroughly enjoyed Sean and his educational, organized and stimulating program which showed his love, passion and deep understanding on suiseki. Now our group is trying to figure out how we can top our first program!

Bill


Group forming "perfect" suiseki out of clay


Discussing the placement of a magnificent waterfall suiseki in a suiban


Jim Dolce attended the meeting even though his shoulder was still in a sling from surgery


Harvey Carapella did not use the blue plastic gloves since "real men don't use gloves", no, he wanted to feel the clay when forming it into his idealized suiseki


Bob Blankfield carves his own daiza and enjoyed Sean's exercise


Sean Smith and Marc Arpag who is the main organizer of the Upstate New York Suiseki Study Group and also editor of our Newsletter

William N. Valavanis
Member


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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  Harleyrider on Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:45 pm

Looks like you had a good day there, Bill.

Trouble is, you've gone and set the bar very high for yourselves, haven't you?

I'd be interested to see just what you come up with for the next meeting!

Harleyrider
Member


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NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  Guest on Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:00 pm

Hi Bill:

I am available for your next meeting.
Very Happy

Peter Aradi

Guest
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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  Heven on Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:21 pm

Wonderful day, meaningful to each person, I am longing for as the day to learn more. The master is in here.Smile

Heven
Member


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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  RichardF on Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:20 pm

I would like to attend the Suiseki Study Group.

E-mail: RichardMorrisF@yahoo.com

Thank you,

Richard Morris F.

RichardF
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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  William N. Valavanis on Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:24 am

Yesterday, our newly formed “Suiseki Study Group of Upstate New York" had our second meeting. Our first meeting last month featured Sean Smith. That’s a hard act to follow, but the group talked me into showing slides from the 2009 Choseki-Kai Suiseki Exhibition held at the Kennin-ji Temple in Kyoto. This is the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto established in 1202, over 800 years ago.

Seiji Morimae organized the exhibition which was held in two large rooms, each with huge tokonoma. One of the displays had a small pine bonsai as an accessory to a beautiful old boat stone. Koji Suzuki, master daiza carver and a friend had a small sales area.

After the slides each of our 15 members brought a few favorite suiseki and we had a show and tell session. It was interesting to take suiseki out of their daiza and to position them in a suiban. We tried different depths and positions of several of the stones and found new viewing angles. It helps to have several different opinions. Each of us know each other well and we get along while joking with each other.

Finally, Bob Blankfield brought his newest storage boxes (kiri baku) which he designed and constructed. He has been searching old magazines and books to see the design and construction of old style boxes.

We all enjoyed the warm hospitality of each other combined with our passion for suiseki on a cold winter day.

Our next meeting will feature something different, the incense ceremony (Kodo). The sense of smell or aroma heightens the appreciation of suiseki (perhaps bonsai too?) and we are exploring that aspect of the art.

Bill

Jim Dolce showing his suiseki


Mark Arpag describing a suiseki


Will Hebert, right, giving the history of his suieki


Mark Arpag holding Will's Eel River suiseki


Suiseki from New York State


Member's suiseki


Several suiseki were repositioned and displayed in a deep suiban


Bob Blankfield holding an antique storage box. His new boxes are on the table


Main suiseki tokonoma display at the 2009 Choseki-Kai Suiseki Exhibition in Kyoto

William N. Valavanis
Member


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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  Chris Cochrane on Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:56 pm

Hi Bill... Thanks for the continuing coverage. The stones look great.

Thanks for sharing that Mark Arpaq is the main organizer & newsletter editor. (Congratulations, Mark!!!) He has contributed immensely to discussions on bonsai & suiseki on IBC. I hope Study Group members will share news that will open our eyes. Perhaps, the Study Group's newsletter can be offered to subscribers.

The Choseki display is very interesting & startlingly bright. If you can share images or a description to better reveal its details, I would be fascinated.

_________________
... visit the U.S. National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, Washington DC USA-- http://www.bonsai-nbf.com

Chris Cochrane
Member


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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  RichardF on Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:39 pm

Wondering if someone can help me know if i can attend the Suiseki Study group or not. Requirements. Is there somewhere on this site or online that explains such information.

Thank you ,
RichardF

RichardF
Member


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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  Mark on Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:48 pm

Hi Richard,
I am pleased that you have enjoyed Bill's posts. I hope Bill will continue to share our adventures with the IBC community.
We currently have a few more members than we had planned on which is good but presents challenges. I am very interested in fostering interest in Suiseki and would like to speak with you about your interest. Please send me a PM with an introduction and your location.
Thank you,
Mark

Mark
Member


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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  nguyen van vung on Thu Feb 25, 2010 1:58 pm

Hi Bill and Mark,

Congratulations on your newly founded group and your initial creative activities. We can learn a lot from your generous sharing. I can see the passion for suiseki on each member's face and every member seems to be trying to find his dream mountain stone Smile

Thank you and warm regards,

vung

nguyen van vung
Member


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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  William N. Valavanis on Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:54 am

Today our Suiseki Study Group of Upstate New York had our third meeting. Jerome Cushman presented a very interesting program on incense, or Kado in Japanese. Jerome is a scholar and has had considerable study in Japan and the United States on bonsai, ikebana, suiseki, kado, tea ceremony, shodo and especially haiku. He has been invited to Japan several times to teach haiku to study groups and has authored several books.

After Jerome presented some information on the background of incense and explained the basics of the several different schools and types of incense we had a "smoking party". Everyone was invited to bring one of their favorite suiseki and we had them displayed behind Jerome where everyone could see them all.

Ash made from rice hulls was artistically arranged in special bowls and a small pre-lit piece of charcoal was carefully placed in the center. Then a small mica chip was placed above the hot charcoal so each incense was "cooked" rather than burned. (later on Jerome burned some to show us the difference). A small tunnel was then made in the ash to lead the aroma out to the edge of the bowl.

We were carefully given four different cups of "smoke" and were instructed to inhale twice then try to identify the feeling. Although there were four bowls, one of them was duplicated to see if we could identify the double. Then, we looked at all the suiseki and thought of the feeling the aroma presented to us. Some of the feelings were musty, grasses, fresh spring, old temple, honey and more. The suiseki suddenly appeared different and our sense of beauty and imagination was raised. The ten virtues of Kodo were discussed and can be applied to life as well as suiseki appreciation.

It was very interesting to see what smoke will do to you to feel different emotions. Everyone had an awakening, except for two members who had to stand outside because of the aroma. It was not strong, however they had very sensitive noses.

Since the spring bonsai season is nearly upon us, our next meeting will be in June when we will all sit around several suiseki and moisten them. Then, we will watch the stones dry out and see what kind of patterns develop. Sounds like watching grass grow... but better!

Bill


Marc Arpag, Fran Mahony and Bob Blankfield appreciating the different aromas.


At the end, Jerome "burned" the remaining incense to show us how bitter it is. He cooked the incense for our program.


Bob Blankfield carefully watching Jerome Cushman arrange the rice hull ash.


Jerome Cushman instructing us how to appreciate the aroma.

William N. Valavanis
Member


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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  Chris Cochrane on Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:33 pm

Thanks for posting, Bill. It is great to see Jerome Cushman share listening to incense.

Jerome's depth of knowledge & enthusiasm across a broad range of Japanese aesthetics is awesome. He sat with Lynn Boyd, Mike Hagedorn & I at a convention snack table 14 years ago and opened enthusiasm that I do not think any of us could ever forget. He opened gates for us to become lifelong students.

_________________
... visit the U.S. National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, Washington DC USA-- http://www.bonsai-nbf.com

Chris Cochrane
Member


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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  Alan Walker on Thu Apr 08, 2010 10:03 pm

Oh, you fortunate denizens of Rochester, NY, to have such a treasure as Bill Valavanis to be a catalyst for great bonsai and suiseki adventures!

Alan Walker
Member


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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  Russell Coker on Fri Apr 09, 2010 12:43 am

Alan Walker wrote:Oh, you fortunate denizens of Rochester, NY, to have such a treasure as Bill Valavanis to be a catalyst for great bonsai and suiseki adventures!

Isn't that the truth?????

I can't tell you how many times I've thought the same thing! I hope you guys realize how fortunate you are. You have a wonderful group. And I, for one, am so envious. I'd give almost anything to be a part of something like this. Anyone need a kidney? I can spare one, but it's kinda pickled and I won't promise it won't keep you up most of the night.

Russell (with one rock that looks like a banana)

Russell Coker
Member


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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  David Brunner on Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:07 am

Russell -

You had me rolling on the floor...

I don't want or need your kidney (as yet), but why not post an image of the banana?

(Now that I write that it sounds a bit odd...)

Thanks again for the chuckle! And thank you Bill for not only your contribution in Rochester but to Bonsai and stone appreciation writ large!

David Brunner

David Brunner
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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

Post  Russell Coker on Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:16 am

Hey David.

Actually the banana is already here - the topic is "boat stone" in this forum.

Russell - alone in the backwoods of the deep south

Russell Coker
Member


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Re: NEW SUISEKI STUDY GROUP

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