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"And the LORD God made ... trees that were pleasing to the eye ..." Gen. 2:9, New International Version.

"Bonsai isn't just something I do; it's part of what I am." Remark to my wife and daughter.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

"I'm a bonsaiist, Jim, not a photographer!"

     I have a confession to make: I am not a shutterbug.

My wife can be counted on to get plenty of pictures almost anywhere she goes. I, on the other hand, often have to be reminded to take a camera at all! And when I do take one, I don't always remember to use it. That last is especially true when I go not to see something (as at a bonsai display) but to participate (as at a picnic.)

Which explains why I didn't remember to get many pictures at the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club's annual picnic-and-auction on July 15th. And that is rather a shame, because the picnic was as good as ever, and the auction had more to offer, I think, than it ever had before.

Jerry and Darlene Kittle hosted us, to everyone's appreciation and as they always do. Jerry is also the chef responsible for preparing the meat, and the pork ribs were falling-off-the-bone tender. The rest of the food was carry-in, and most of it measured up, I'd say, to the standard set by the ribs. (Some things about this part of Indiana are not widely known, and the general level of cooking skill is one of them.)

But, photographically-challenged or not, I did get a few pictures.

Eating and talking under the sun shelters. You can see a few of the silent auction offerings to the right. 
Always get a banker as your club treasurer if you can. Ed Hake has been handling the club's money competently and
faithfully for many years. To his own left is Cody Harris, club VP and volunteer live auctioneer.
Yes, all those plants on the tables are for sale in the silent auction. And there's a fixed-price table for the smallest items,
as well as a dozen or so trees on the live-auction table. I don't think we've ever had so many before.
Ed answers a question for Deanna as Maria, Shay and David consider all the possibilities on the silent-auction tables.
We gave up live auctions several years ago: none of us had auctioneering experience, and the result was dragged-out proceedings, sometimes excruciatingly slow. (I'm not pointing fingers at anyone else; I'm a terrible auctioneer myself.) Finally we went to silent auctions, which have worked well.

But this year Cody Harris, club VP, wanted to try a live auction, for just a limited number of items. Cody had been inspired by Jim Doyle's performance a week before as auctioneer at the MABA 2017 convention. Jim not only knows how to keep an auction moving right along, he also has a knack for making an auction fun. (Which, I admit, I would once have thought to be a contradiction in terms.) I suspect Cody hoped to make our Ft. Wayne auction fun as well; if so, I think he succeeded. No dragged-out bidding, and people enjoyed it. Jim would be proud to have him for an understudy, I think.

And this is where I really regret my tendency to forget to take pictures, because I have none of Cody as auctioneer! I apologize for that. But you don't have to take just my word for it that he did a good job - ask anyone else who was there.

I bought one item myself: a small Siberian elm stump, Ulmus pumila, that Ed Hake collected from his own yard. (Ed's mother tree is extremely prolific.) It looks like it will be challenging, and will probably teach me some things. I'm aiming for an eventual upright shohin, featuring a heavy and probably hollowed trunk. A recent blog post by Juan Antonio Pérez, of Cádiz, Spain, inspired my thinking (and inspired the purchase). Gracias, Juan Antonio! Que mi árbol queda tan formidable como el tuyo! (May my tree be as impressive as yours.)

(If you know Spanish, you can read his blog post here. If not, I hope to translate it in the not-too-distant future and post the translation on my blog, with his permission.)

My silent-auction acquisition: Siberian elm, Ulmus pumila, perhaps 8 years old.
And next year - more pictures!

(-:  (-:  (-:

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Making Pinch Pots

(Alternative title: "We play with clay!")

     For our March 2017 meeting, the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club got together to make pinch pots. One of our members, Pat Guido, kindly opened her home so we would have plenty of space for our creative efforts. Thanks, Pat!

As many of you may be right now, I was wondering just what a "pinch pot" is. A pair of videos on YouTube were very helpful. A pinch pot is simply a pot you make with your fingers, rather than on a potter's wheel or by pouring slip into a mold. You can - and many of us did - literally pinch the clay into the desired shape. Frankly, it's almost as much fun as making mud pies was in childhood! 😄 

Another of our members, Mark Sturtzenberger, has considerable amateur experience with ceramics. He led the session, sharing his knowledge with anyone who asked for his assistance, and also took care of the firing afterward. Thanks, Mark!

Forming one of my creations.

Glazing, if desired, had to be done after the first firing, and any pots that were glazed had to be fired a second time. The glazed pots were delivered at the club's annual picnic-and-auction this past Saturday.

Here are my three efforts, with a standard DVD for a size reference. I decided to glaze just one of mine.

The lighting is a bit off in this picture, but I don't know why. My apologies.

We had two kinds of stoneware clay available. I used the finer-textured one for my tray, which I expect to use for a small bonsai or, more likely, a kusamono.

The texture on the outside of the rim is there just to avoid monotony, but I think almost suggests stone.

The other two pots were made from the other clay. I made the walls of this next one so thin I was a little concerned that they might collapse under their own weight. They held up, tho. I can see a fairly wild-looking kusamono in this pot, or a very informal small bonsai. 

You can see the coarser texture of the clay. I'm not sure what the black dots are, but I think they add interest.

I wanted to try for a muted glaze on my last pot, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out! This will hold an accent plant or - just possibly - a mame-sized black pine. I think the latter could work.

The glaze turned out even better than I had hoped: muted overall, with darker variegations. ☺

Some of Ian Young's pictures on his "Bonsai Eejit" blog gave me the idea for the next two pictures. I leave you with these two views.

Until next time, keep having fun!

:-)  :-)  :-)