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

Tuesday 30 April 2013

A table or two...

For those of you who are interested in funky rocks or old pebbles, then this article in the outstanding California Aiseki Kai newsletter may be of interest. In another shameless self promotion exercise, (or should that be "sharing the wealth" exercise?) it was written by me. It is a seriously abridged version of the 90 minute lecture I gave at the Stone Show in October of last year. I was at the time struggling to think of what I could talk about, but lo and behold, I was able to waffle on for ages about tables for rocks. The convention is the only one of its kind and I always learn something there, even if it is to not line dance after a few too many gins on a crowded dancefloor of super serious rednecks.

Much of the information is equally as applicable to the similar field of bonsai display and many of the table makers mentioned and aesthetic ideas discussed within are from the bonsai world. The two, suiseki and bonsai, are wheels on the same bicycle, to quote some old bloke. Where that bicycle is going and who is pedalling it, nobody knows. At times it has a flat tyre and at times it speeds downhill before crashing into a mangled mess of trees and rocks.

Enough of a tired metaphor...here is the article in jpeg form for you to squint at, or you can read it as a pdf here...

The Californian Aiseki Kai is probably the best non japanese stone group out there and under the leadership of amongst others, Nina and Larry Ragle, they attempt to practice and embrace stone lovin' in a true and dedicated manner, be it pure Japanese suiseki, American stones, stone appreciation, suesok, scholar stones or pebble polishing. Recommend regular reading for real rockers.

(If you think I have a rather glib attitude towards suiseki, then you really don't know me, I do in fact consider it to be a supremely interesting pursuit, but I tire so much of the endless arguements about names, categories and all that nonsense...)


Winding down...

As you can imagine, the silence has been deafening. The American trip was a busy one, but interesting in many ways.I had a great time in the middle of the atlantic and the triumvirate of Akiyama, Ryan and myself went down well at the show.  It was an interesting line up for their 30th anniversary, especially as I was the oldest demonstrator at the ripe old age of 34.  We cranked out some trees and did our stuff though.  Akiyama was a little nervous before hand, perhaps due to some interpretations problems, which caused both Ryan and I to demonstrate and translate as the day progressed...still it all worked out smoothly in the end.

I am sure there are better pictures out there...but Akiyama did this Juniper....

I started with this Larch
and ended up with this Larch

And Ryan did these two, a Pitch Pine

and a Rocky Mountain Juniper.

Obviously, the camera skills were top quality. Nothing is in focus, at the right height or the right angle.

All in all it was a good weekend and it was enjoyed by us all.

I followed that up with a couple of days in New Jersey which was an interesting sight into an old part of the States.  I must admit though that I grew up in a house that was built in the 1600's so it is all relative.  Seeing some of the destruction that the Hurricane created was a shock, some houses destroyed and others left almost untouched.

One of the highlights of New Jersey was coming across this in a park..

and this reminder that I perhaps should get my web shop thing up and running...

Still it gave me some food for thought...and there are a lot of ideas floating around at the moment. I have one more full week of work and then it is time to take the foot off the pedal and sort my home out, sort some stuff out I am planning and figure a way of enjoying life at the same time as enjoying bonsai.  This last weekend was a great reminder that there is more to life than trees...although I did take the opportunity to go searching through the cliffs to see the trees in their natural habitat.

Oh yes...

And so for the last time in a month, and the second time in two days....I am on my way to stansted airport.

Onwards to Katowice!

Tuesday 16 April 2013

All American Akiyama

The pace continues with an average of 18 trees a day, the majority of which have been potted into a variety of western pots. It is interesting to see how some of the pots are very easy to use and others not so, but somehow there is always a tree for a pot. Akiyama-san has been very impressed with some recent John Pitt pots and also the clay texture of Ron Lang. I fear that after a week here he maybe turning American, I really think so...

The other highlight so far was some drowning frogs in the pool, hanging onto each other for dear life. They were just floating around on each others back hoping to reach dry land all day long. I hope they made it out safely.

They seemed to be enjoying it anyway.

Keep on keeping on...


Saturday 13 April 2013

Old habits die hard...

I'm running the risk of falling back into old habits again...not blogging as regularly as some would like and also doing my back in for the sake of little trees. I'm not a sprightly young thing any more, but I am going for it hardcore over the last few days. I'm currently in the US with my senpai, Akiyama-san. He is my older brother and we get on very well. At the moment we are currently working our way through repotting a lot of trees. Some big, some small but we are trying to keep up a pace that we could both do five years ago, but are finding it difficult now.

We are both in America for the upcoming Mid Atlantic Bonsai convention. It will be held near Hershey in Pennsylvania not on a ship in the middle of the sea...Or at least I hope it is. 15 to starboard - 15 to starboard sir.

Working together has been fun so far, catching up on things, setting the world to rigts and discussing what can be done to improve our lot. We both have some ideas for the future which will be interesting to implement. In the immediate future we have to up or repotting rate to 22 trees today and brush up on presentation skills.

I'm waking up at 4.30 on the dot every morning, it's most annoying but it gives me some time to do some computer based time wasting. I will write a report about the superb Greece trip soon, trying to catch up on emails first...

Onwards and upwards...to becoming a hunchback.


Saturday 6 April 2013

Dispatches from Athens...

Not wishing to make people feel bad, but I have seen the sun, and I can confirm it is there, it is warm and it is good. Oh yes. Our time will come.

In a brave and bold move, the fledgling bonsai enthusiasts of cash strapped Greece have asked me over for a weekend of bonsai education and a workshop. I thought it important then to give them the highest level of education possible. So in the spirit of Socratic learning, I posed the question below.

And I call myself a professional...

In fact, there is not much more to bonsai than that. It is just a tree in a pot. Doesn't that freak you out sometimes? It does me.

I'm loving Greece and think I will have to take a trip to the countryside. I fell in love with the country as a boy, reading Going Solo by Roald Dahl and Odysseus by Tony Robinson during the heyday of Jackanory.

Must try and read some more of them there books because as of them old Grecian dude once said

Ignorance is the root and stem of all evil.

And as Morrissey once said, "Is evil just something you are, or something you do?"

Tonight I'm going to the Parthenon...rock on.