December 7, 2021

Refining the 2-In-1 Step Method for Kintsugi Ceramic Repair

        Last time I gave y’all a thorough review of 6 different kintsugi methods you can choose from based on the needs of your pot-mending situation. After completing this review, out of respect for my current situation as a graduate student with limited time and funds, I opted to try one of the simplest methods - the "2-in-1 Step Method: Oozing Colored Epoxy". As I previously described, this method requires the least supplies, hands-on steps, and wait time while providing a durable end product. Because this method had concerns regarding control of the aesthetic quality, my next question was whether these limitations could be improved upon. Hence, today's article covers several trial pots I repaired with this method to observe and tweak the 2-in-1 Step technique. My results from the final pot I repaired (see below) advance the 2-in-1 Step Method as it demonstrates the ability to use this method to cleanly fill large missing pieces in some circumstances, which has not previously been reported. Combined with the careful application of the colored epoxy, this technique may now be closer to the quality associated with the more complicated kintsugi repair techniques.

        My recommendations for an improved 2-in-1 Step protocol can be found at the end of this article.
    The result of my final kintsugi repair using the 2-in-1 Step Method: Oozing Colored Epoxy.
    This piece had a large missing piece and some small gaps from smaller missing pieces which made it extra challenging for this technique.

    October 26, 2021

    Broken Bonsai Pot? No Problem! Modern Methods for Ceramic Repair Through Kintsugi

               Whether from poor packaging or handling during shipping, a strong wind, a pet-related accident, or just our own clumsiness, everyone in bonsai eventually has to deal with the frustration of a broken bonsai pot. If you found this article because this recently happened to you, don't despair. You do have options. You could repair the pot so the cracks from its catastrophe are barely visible, but in the esoteric world of bonsai aesthetics, generations of Japanese ceramics before us have developed a more artistic way to mend broken pots - this is the process known as kintsugi. 
            This article began from my own research into methods of kintsugi repair so I could repair one of my broken pots.  Like in other areas of bonsai, there is a centuries-old, established, traditional technique but there are also more modern methods that can make the process of mending pots faster, simpler, and cheaper. The objective of this article is straightforward - find step-by-step information that is doable for an amateur (like me), and then narrow down potential methods by expected durability, quality of end product, time to complete the repair, cost of materials, and convenience to locate said materials. To evaluate this list of considerations, I summarized the pros and cons of each method according to my findings and interviews with people who have tried each technique (See the summary table at the end for the short version). Finally, I modified the winning kintsugi repair protocol for use on my pot and I will share that process & result next time.

    August 13, 2021

    Crazy for Catalpa! Bonsai prospects for an unusual North American native

             If you're familiar with the northern catalpa, Catalpa speciosa, then you know it's a pretty strange tree and certainly not one which you would expect to be used for bonsai. Maybe it's a fool's errand for me to attempt to tame a tree with 12" leaves and 20" seed pods, however something about that staccato, memorable name has got me captivated. I've been observing specimen of it everywhere I go around Columbus as it is one of the more easily identifiable naive trees around - so much so, I've even got my girlfriend shouting "Catalpa!" every time we pass one. From this foundation, basic identification skills had led me to observe the species more intimately. As with any unknown species, the more scenarios you observe a specimen, the more you can observe its potential for bonsai. In the case of the catalpa, observations of a full-sized specimen, the seeding frequency of seeded, the fast growth of those volunteers, and the discovery of one naturally stunted catalpa all inform my plans to experiment with this species for bonsai.

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    Catalpa is capable of producing a variety of leaf sizes. The left-most leaf is typical for a healthy catalpa, while the right leaves are from a naturally stunted catalpa.

    July 23, 2021

    Roberta Walters' Azaleas 101 - A Guide to Seasonal Azalea Care

                Few species of bonsai can compete with the visual intrigue produced by an azalea in full bloom. For that reason, today I have to resist the flowery temptation to write a full on history of their use in bonsai and review manual for Azalea techniques (maybe someday...). Instead, I'll whet your appetite with a more manageable intro to azalea-specific information through long-lost excerpts from one of California's premier azalea expert, Roberta Walters. While the full playlist of Roberta's demonstration is available on the Puget Sound Bonsai Association's Youtube Channel, this article is intended to serve as a guide to how each clip of Roberta's discussions fits into seasonal work that can be done on your azalea bonsai.

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    This old azalea by Dan Robinson (collected decades ago by his first student. Frank) is a prime example of their potential spring beauty. Although it is already covered with pink flowers, this tree is still a few days away from peak bloom. At that time it would be so covered in pink that you can't even see the leaves! It's no wonder this tree won the People's Choice Award at the 2017 PSBA Spring Show.

    April 21, 2021

    A Case Study for Applying the Water and Sugar Equations - Repotting the Risky Rose

    Source material: 3/19/2021

                Hola bonsai amigos! Today is a great day because not only does your friendly neighborhood microbiologist (me!) receive his second Covid vaccine dose, but my immunized arms also come bearing another present to the bonsai community. As spring continues to march on, so too does the blog's coverage of my giant rosebush bonsai - this time the rose's latest repot reveals two fundamental equations of life to consider when manipulating bonsai or any plant.

                The "Risky Rose" was the second major repot I did this year; returning readers will recall from last week's post that this operation involved another of the largest trees in my collection - a yardadori/landscape origin rosebush turned bonsai. As discussed in the previous post, now that the tree has recovered several years after its initial transplanting endured a cross-country move and survived its first Ohio winter, our rose has definitely earned renewed attention this year. For now, I'm calling it the "Risky Rose" because it needed severe root reduction in order to change its planting angle and lift the upper half of the trunk out of the pot. Read on to understand the motivations behind this bold action, including what steps were taken to ensure this radical root reduction could be done safely.

                As with my last repotting post, "Repotting The Monster Mulberry - Revisiting the Basics", this repot was done with the help of my friend in the Columbus Bonsai Society, Kevin. Thanks, Kevin!

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