Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Classic Bonsai Styles and Finding them in Ordinary Stock

In a presentation designed to help beginning members, ACBS's own Mike Rusnak discussed slides showing classic bonsai styles. Mike noted that “by studying the forms of classic styles, it can both inspire and help the beginning student discover such shapes in potential bonsai  pointing to a photograph of a tree in a local grove of Scots pine, he said that “a careful look at such trees can inspire you to use natural trees as shapes as models—the shape of the apex, for example.” 

Mike's  pine created from Christmas tree stock
Mike also discussed creating bonsai from such plants as throw-away shrubbery and nursery stock. He included some tips on what to look for when selecting stock. 

Juniper from nursery stock
 He identified some qualities he likes to look for in a row of trees 1)good hefty trunk with a fanning root base—you can be check by scraping away some of the surface soil, 2)a trunk that has some movement or interest, 3) a good selection of branches and 4)branches that are close in to the trunk. He added that “for me most of the fun of bonsai is in the process. Creating something that becomes a presentable bonsai from something ordinary is both fun and rewarding. It may take several seasons, but it is always exciting to start a new project.
Literati-like pine in an Ohio field

Mike with a favorite creation
Mike recommended Dave DeGroot's book “Basic Bonsai Design,” as an excellent starting place and resource for learning how to create bonsai from nursery stock. The book reviews classic styles, design principles, and contains several sample projects showing the transition between nursery stock and a bonsai. Many of the projects pictured show typical-looking stock and where initial cuts might be made  to begin to creating a bonsai. The book can be purchased from the American Bonsai Society for $15.95 at this link:


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