Welcome to the Saruyama Blog, intermittent and generally off topic. Occasionally you might see some trees...and weird ones at that.

Friday 28 September 2012

Hot off the press...

Breaking news...from 1922.  I got sent a picture from Japan today, taken from today's newspaper.

Here is a picture discovered by the grandson of the photographer, showing a collected juniper that was presented to the imperial family from the people of Chichibu.  I love the bamboo protection surrounding the tree.

I know it is a treasonable offence but ever time I hear the phrase Imperial Family I think of this or ...

Flew to the US yesterday, in preparation for the International Stone Appreciation Symposium at Hershey PA.  Will be talking rocks, display stands and giving a demonstration of the force...had great fun together putting together a little display. Stone is weak though...may have to get a new one...although this is the stone you are looking for...

Sunday 23 September 2012

An update, some pots...

Since the last post I have been entertaining my senpai Akiyama and yet more travelling.  A hectic few days of sight seeing around London and the Cotswolds showed some of the best of British culture and countryside. Visiting the British Museum was a highlight, I love walking around all the stuff we stole from the rest of the world, a comment made by Akiyama as well...he said we must have been very busy. Still, looking at the ancient pottery and cultural stuff always gives inspiration.
 The subsequent travelling included a trip down to the South West where a workshop weekend went very well, despite a 2 am wake up call and 6 hour drive.  In a shameless self promotion move, details can be found here at Marcus Watt's blog...I didn't pay him to write it up like that...honest.

A morning off was had before driving back and then onto America, and it was heaven...pasty heaven...

I flew out to Portland a few days ahead of the convention there and went to see Ryan for all of around 12 hours, most of which were spent burning the midnight oil well into the early hours of the morning watching him working on trees and occasionally chipping in with some jet lagged advice.  His commitment to the project he has started is impressive.
I hung out for a day and worked on the juniper I had started last time, wiring it out a little more and restyling a few sections.  It was good to see that it survived unscathed.

The convention was just across the water in Vancouver WA and went very well.  The main reason for this was the work that went into procuring good quality demonstration material and workshop material that was specifically maintained for up to two years before the show. It made my life easier.  It was also good to demonstrate on deciduous trees for once...yes you read me right.  A deciduous tree demo.  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  Three trees (I could have done 4 but I talked too much) and plenty of learning points to be had.  Good feedback was given and people were not angry that they did not see a finished tree at the end of the day. Needless to say I didn't take any pictures but the trees turned out all ok, including a blinged up Hall's Crab apple.  The exhibition was great as well, including a few very aesthetically pleasing and very Hagedorn-esque trees.  Good to see Mike's influence there and also have the chance to sit down and chew the cud a little with the man himself.

There was also a chance to catch up with some old friends and make some new.  Zack Shimon and I relived our trucking days by going out for a few drinks, sitting uncomfortably close to each other and eating Buffalo wings. After the show I flew to Rochester (7 hours as opposed to three days) and had two packed days with Bill V. and his crew.  I was still exhausted but at least I was relatively well shaven.

In Vancouver I purchased a new pot, by a potter who lives just down the road from Mr. Neil and whose work we shall see a little more of in the future.  Her name is Jan Rentenaar and her website is here. The pot I bought was only a small accent but it was fired in a wood kiln and has some incredible texture and subtle colour variations.  I look forward to using it, but it seems a shame to fill it and lose the textures within.  Maybe yet another for the shelf...which has swollen in the last few days as many of the pots I purchased in the US over the last couple of trips have finally made their way home.

Some based in Europe may not be aware of the pottery available in the US and whereas they lack perhaps the sheer number of potters that are available in Europe, there are some outstandingly artistic potters, including Ron Lang who I always end up buying something from, despite the difficulty in getting it back

Not the greatest picture, but I bought this...UFO styled pot which has a massively heavy and hollow (crust) wall.  I was looking at it whilst Ron was unpacking at the National Exhibition in June and got suckered into buying it.  Upon being told how difficult it was to make and how proud Ron was to have done it, I said that it would be a challenge to find some kind of planting in order to make the best of it.  The gauntlet was very much thrown down there and then and I felt obliged to pick it up.  May take a few years, but it will come good I am sure.  The glaze, build quality and clay are superb as always with a Lang pot...just be careful if you ever see him at a show as he has a habit of pulling stuff you want from under the table as you walk past...I got another three, although to be fair, he did give me one as a gift.

Dating back to May, I bought a couple at the Florida convention from Taiko Earth (Rob Addonizio) and Bellota Pots (Paul Katich).
 The first from Taiko Earth  was a no brainer as I have very rarely seen such shapes done in the west, an elongated rectangle with angled edges. Rob told me it was one of his earlier works and is a bit wonky, but it is barely noticeable and the dimensions (although I prefer them slightly more narrow) were great.  I need to find the perfect tall, thin deciduous tree now to plant in the corner.

From Mr. Katich comes this dark green glazed round with specks of black.  A good choice for a strong rosemary or a cascade deciduous tree...perhaps an Azalea?   I was impressed with the glaze as much as the elegant line and the thin belt across the top makes it suitable for a slightly more powerful tree.

No discussion of American Pottery would be complete without mentioning the long standing queen of the bonsai ceramics world, Sara Rayner.  Having used and seen her pots for many years, it was a pleasure to finally meet her in Chicago for the show in August...and buy a few pots...or rather in this case suiban.  One thing that is very much missing in the western pottery world is a good producer of suiban.  Jim Barrett made some but I have yet to see any that match the build quality of this.

Thin walled, shallow and very evenly glazed.  No warp and no distortion.  It was a steal.  It maybe a little difficult to use as the glaze will be close to sand colour, but some creative solution will be achieved.
This smaller and darker suiban will be a lot easier to use, but lacks the delicacy of the cream glazed one.  Still an awesome suiban though.

It isn't just potters from the US I have been frittering my money away on, but also relatively new name on the UK scene, tucked away down in the South West. Gordon Hunt is an artist who works with a number of media and has begun to work on making bonsai pots.  Like many artistic potters, the desire to create a beautiful piece in it's own right is strong, making for some difficult to use glazes and shapes, but he brought a good number to the workshop which took my fancy including this outstanding pot.  Not sure exactly how to use it as it is a little strong, may just keep it for flowers or something rather than a tree, and appreciate the ceramic beauty of it.

The repeating pattern is reminiscent of the leiwen or raimon pattern seen in Chinese and Japanese ceramics, an also the meander pattern from Greek design.  The strong structural lines and the rusted effect glaze brought to mind a Greek altar or something I had seen in the British Museum a few days previous...strange how things come full circle...just like the leiwen.

It is great to see so many great pots and stands available in the west, made by westerners to an increasingly high standard.  Akiyama commented on pots in my collection by both John Pitt and Stone Monkey, saying he would love to be able to commission stuff like that for the prices they charge.

And on that bombshell...I will leave with a promise to post some pictures later this week before I head off to the Stone Show...