Friday, 28 October 2011

Clay Crusader!

I’ve got a friend called Andy. By day he’s a mild mannered man ensuring the safety of commuters on London Underground but by night he is an Oxide Crazed Ceramics Freak! Last night Sally and I attended a Private Viewing of the 2011 London Potters Show at Morley Gallery.

Rammed to the rafters with ceramics, artists and putters alike we had a lovely time – even if we didn’t get to see too much due to the numbers there. This was Andy’s debut (although he does have his ceramics at the Singing Soul Gallery in Cranbrook) and we were pleased to be able to support him.

So if, at the dead of night you think you see a shadowy figure lurking in the moonlight it could well be our one and only Clay Crusader creating fine art in his own unique way!!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Time to talk with Mr Tickle

I’ve been really lucky over the past few years to meet some fantastic people in Bonsai and none more fun than Tony Tickle. Tony has been there, read the book, worn the T-Shirt and unfortunately sometimes killed the cast in Bonsai and I’m honoured to call him my friend (not too sure what he thinks about that though!). A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of his company for the evening, whilst he split his outward journey to Saulieu in France, at Chez Monkey.

We, my family included, had a super time with a man with an infectious enthusiasm, witty humour and boundless stupidity. For a Bonsai contact topics of conversation covered subjects from canoeing to Charles Rene Macintosh, Yamadori to You Tube, Bonsai talent past and up and coming (that doesn’t include me BTW) and, it seemed everything else in between. I couldn’t have asked for a more entertaining and forthright guest.

I know when it comes to discussing all things Bonsai I can be a bit intense (OK, a right royal pain in the arse) but my enquiries were met with good humour and, at times, bluntness but I now feel that I’m at the stage where I need this. Tony kindly let me know roughly where I am and, more importantly, where I need to go to improve my trees and understanding of the art. Some people I know would blow smoke up your arse or tell you what you wanted to hear not always what you needed to hear (for good or ill) which I found refreshingly honest.

Bonsai is a small business world and there are many egos out there. Tony could well have told me “buy some of MY yamadori – it’s what you need and will be a winner” but he didn’t. Yes, he would like me to attend the Burrs Workshop that he holds but when I could – no pressure. I do understand the longer I delay in clearing out the chaff and getting good tuition and material the further away my ambitions will be but to be believed in by someone I admire is a real tonic.

Thanks Tony for being a mate, teacher and all round good egg –
Bonsai needs people like you!!

Perfect Performer!!

As some of you are aware, my good lady Sally has been using Pole as a means to keep fit. Well the other weekend the company she learns with and a birthday bash for students, partners, hangers on and the like. There were to be poles there for a few demos during the evening so Sally, not to turn down a challenge, choreographed her own routine to perform on the night.

Although I might be biased, she did a fab job and was recognised with an Award for Most Artist Student. Bearing in mind Sally is one of the few students not to either have a pole at home OR go to multiple classes in a week this was a just reward for her hard work and determination.

Well done m’dear and I can’t wait for the video on Facebook!!

Dead & Decomposing – The rebirth of “King C”

I brought this tree from Kaizen Bonsai at Noelanders this year after seeing it in the “Bargain Basement” section. As many of you know I have a bit of a fetish for Cotoneasters and this one was far larger than any I had seen. My original vision for this tree took a bit of a setback for 2 reasons. The first was that my initial front was rotated about 120 degrees to the right and the second, and most importantly, there was a scruffy nebari. It was advised by the “great & good” that I graft some new roots, far too complex for my basic Bonsai skills, but it was worth bearing in mind. Any-ho, the tree grew strongly(ish) and the foliage turned a nice shade of British Racing Green so I was happy with its overall health.

Recently, whilst babysitting whilst my good lady was at a Pole Class, I thought that I would take a poke around at the surface roots to see how the land lied for the following years re-pot. Some of the bark was a bit wet so I had a little rub and the bark came off. I carried on with the scratch, (brown), scratch (brown) until I couldn’t take it anymore. Out came the mini drill and “soft” wire brush – let’s explore!! Before long, and suffering from a bad case of bark dandruff, I realised that there was only one area of live vein and a shed load of additional deadwood to play with (yes I can already hear Will Baddeley’s Makita revving up in the background!) As I’m by no means a Carving God I thought I’d have a go at blending the new with the old existing deadwood to at least give me a better picture of where the tree is going.

As can be seen, I didn’t go to crazy with the block carving as I tried to keep the movement of the old root/trunk but blend it with the centre section. There is a large straight(ish) section to the left that had been carved by Kaizen so I think the next job will be to lighten up the centre section. I have joined the two areas by means of a hole but that probably needs some more refinement.

So the plan for next year – pot up into a larger pot, feed like crazy and it could well be a trip to Suffolk. Watch out Will, were coming to see you!!