The pot that the tree has been in for the last two years was purchased when I was judging a show in China and it’s the right size for sure. BUT the quality is not great, it’s a good training pot but not good enough for exhibition. I intend to show this tree over the next three years so a change of pot was required. This Tokoname Bigei Pot is by – Mr. Hirata Atsumi and was purchased in 2016 for this tree.
This lovely little Yew has been collected for 4 seasons and is ready to have some serious bending. I have waited until this seasons new growth has begun before I started the work. I wanted to use the thick branch with the extensive deadwood as a low character branch. The live vein ran up the back of the branch, 75% is deadwood. I started with a fine saw cut all the way through to the live so that when I split the branch it did not go too far down.
Using branch splitters and concave cutters I removed the deadwood as close to the live without compromising the health of the tree. I then drilled two holes into the sawn section, these would secure the thick copper wire that will support the branch and assist in the bend. The whole was then wrapped with wet raffia and secured with cable ties. The bend was done slowly with two hands ensuring a smooth curve with no ‘kinks’ in the live vein. The branch will now be left till the end of the season to recover and continue to grow.
I have had this Yew for over 20 years and it has had major bending done on the lower part to bring the foliage closer to the trunk, this took 3 years to fully ‘set’ and stay in position. The tree was exhibited last year on a pile of book at the Noelanders Trophy and most liked the display and a few traditionalists were horrified. Over the years the tree has been in a variety of pots some crazy… and some not. This is because the tree has been like a petulant child, difficult making the tree do what I want. And finding the best pot has been a challenge.
I have always had issue with the distance of the foliage in relation to the trunk line, combined with the lower trunks movement has never fully been utilized. Having done such extensive carving to reduce the bulk of the upper part the live vein was thinned to a flat part at the rear of the tree. With a bit more carving to thin out the deadwood bending this area would be a simple process. This would pull the tree together and solve a lot of the awkward shapes and angles in the tree. The wire was held in place with cable ties and the tree was bent through and angle of 30º I did not wrap the tree with raffia because the bend was so subtle and the wires and ties held the whole together well.
I am very happy with the final dynamic appearance; I love the angle of the Ten Jin, the movement of the lower trunk and the compact nature of the whole image. The training pot will help the tree thicken up the live vein and meanwhile I can concentrate on filling out the foliage.
Here are some early photos of the development and crazy pots followed by progress photos of the bending done.
I have seen the work of Tom Benda develop over the last few years however his most recent work is up there with the best bonsai potters in Europe. At the recent EDA UCHI KAI exhibition in Belgium Tom’s Trade stand was the busiest by far.My Yamadori trade stand backed onto Tom’s and we had a great weekend together. It was a classic case of “buy the pot NOW” because if you don’t somebody else would! So many pots were purchased in the first few hours of the weekend.
As he would have nothing to display the scope of his work, Tom requested that the buyers collect their purchases at the end of the show. Mario Komsta and Mark & Ritta Cooper snapped up dozens of pots between them, so often through the weekend I heard “Sorry that’s been bought by Mario”… “Mark and Ritta’s” “yes… that’s Marios too!” “no… sorry Tony Tickle has bought that”
This brings me to one of the Pots that I purchased, considered by Tom as “The best bonsai pot I have ever made” (what sales technique!) This was to be for a Kifu size Yamadori Taxus Baccata that I have been working for quite a few years. The current pot is by Milan Klika, lovely but not quite right for the tree, I will be potting the tree into the new container in April 2014. To ensure that the pot will indeed suit the tree I always produce a ‘virtual’ image.
NOTE: I am now the distributor for Toms pots and will be selling them on my stand at next years Noelanders trophy, so if you DO want to purchase one of Toms amazing Pots I suggest that you get there early