Tom Vong spoke today at our Bonsai Club meeting. He taught about three types of grafting. I have researched plenty on the Internet about grafting and I have found a plethora of interesting information. I have read several books on this matter such as The Secret Techniques of Bonsai by Masakuni Kawasumi (father and son), Bonsai Techniques by John Yoshio Naka and many other books that I have found buried on the shelves of public libraries. These books are amazing and and are written by very knowledgeable people; nevertheless, there is something still magical about learning from a real teacher.
Tom Vong is a very knowledgeable yet humble man. He was able to explain the basic and advanced techniques of grafting in a very simple and easy to follow manner. Mr. Vong is a self-taught bonsai enthusiast who seems to love teaching and is always very open and willing to help us to learn about bonsai if we ask him questions. He is known for working with trees that every other master has considered too difficult or, perhaps, were considered to not have the characteristics or the potential for a bonsai tree. Mr. Vong can bend trees like no other. There are even rumors that he puts some type of IV on tree trunks and strong branches with sole purpose to soften them. This injected humidity allows him to bend and shape trees in the way he wants. No one knows what is in that solution. What everyone knows is that a tree that nobody wanted to work on will turn into a real masterpiece in Mr. Vong’s hands.
His grafting techniques include materials such as a right-bevel grafting knife, TangleFoot tree pruning sealer, Scotch Professional Grade Linerless Rubber Splicing Tape 130C and his skillful cutting precision hands. He explained the reasons he uses these specific products during the meeting and it really made a lot of sense.
The care recently grafted trees require was also covered along with a rare seen explanation on how and when to graft Japanese black pines.
This was a very interesting lesson from Tom this month. My recommendation is to not miss these presentations at our club. We have excellent presenters that take the mystery out of difficult bonsai techniques.
We are still an active site. I'm just buried with work and robotics that this website has been one of casualty of this really busy year for me. As robotics season is near its late season game play and again, my teams that I manage this year qualify for California State Championships it will delay my ability to update and post as much as I like. Please follow us on Facebook if you have an account there or on Youtube as I'm posting more to those outlets than this website as it is less time consuming.
55th Annual Exhibition at the Los Angeles Arboretum over the Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend! We are honoring Ted Matson with the Nagata-Komai Award at this years show. We are having a sales area and demonstrations on both dates. Finally we are having our reception Saturday night so come out and help support our club.
FB Live is making me soft or these photo essays are just more difficult to put together. This post we have Pedro Morales from Puerto Rico. We got Pedro as a world class demonstrator through the California Bonsai Society Visiting Artist Program.
Pedro is known as the Tropical King and living on a paradise island. This time we gave Pedro a curve ball. I seen Pedro at several live demonstrations and every one I been too they gave him tropicals to work on. Well, not for Baikoen! We gave him his very first California Juniper to work on. He was slightly taken back but was up for the challenge! Overall, he did a great job for not working junipers on a regular bases. Just shows does not matter the material if you are a skilled master you are just skilled period.
Pedro has an awesome personality. He is a must see in person kinda speaker.
He is demonstrating what it is to be or have a reverse taper in a human body.
CBS President himself Bob Pressler.
California Juniper that Pedro will be working on. The styled tree was collected by the late Harry Hairo and will be auctioned at the Winter Silhouette Show 2019.
Pedro envision what the tree will look like when he is done.
The first major cuts.
Pedro wonder who put the handle right in front of the front of the tree?
Tree is presented to the audience with the prospect of what the tree should be after the night's demo.
Pedro is deep thought as he initially styles the first branch.
Darn dropped my scissors on the ground.
With the assistance of Gus D., Pedro makes his first major cuts into the juniper.
With a initial cut, Pedro finishes off the branch removal with a hand pull and tear.
He says it promotes a more realistic cut than just a flat cut which you must later address.
Styling the jin (deadwood) on the apex.
A packed night at the Arboretum.
Pedro puts his first wires on the tree.
Pedro focusing on the task at hand.
A man that enjoys working with trees.
It looks like I did not get a chance to take a photo of the final tree. But this photo gives you an idea where its heading. The apex where that upper portion is and the rest of the deadwood will need to be reduced. If you enjoyed the photos you can watch the FB Live Stream here.
Thank you Pedro Morales for being our demonstrator that night! I learned that you are will versed in many type of trees not just tropicals. I hope will cross again maybe the next time in Puerto Rico!
Better late than never! Trying to keep up with all my other duties and finally getting around for several updates at the same time. So try to keep up!
July Club Meeting was at Peter's House. Its always special when you travel away from the normal scene and explore what is around you. Peter's house is nothing more than a bonsai Disneyland! If you have never been there go ask Peter for a visit, is all I can say.
I wont make a step by step instruction on what Peter did that night as I think the FB Live Stream does a pretty good job there. That night Big Joe and I fixed a major water leak for Peter and missed about 1/2 of the demo. But, what are bonsai clubmates for right?
Can't have a sign in your house without the word "Shohin" in it.
When are you ever shy Peter?
Only one row of trees.
Let the feast begin!
One of Peter's original trees.
Sample Chojobai Quince to be offered at GSBF Convention in Sacramento!
Peter gets ready for some major work.
People streaming into Peter's Bonsai Court.
Let the show begin!
Peter introduces the subject of the night.
The "Powerful Woman" behind it all! Marissa Macasieb
People enjoying the show.
Peter showing off the stage of bonsai development.
Peter doing his magic.
Feel the intense learning going on.
Other angle of all Peter's shohin trees.
Mel C. showing that what happens when technology fails.
The loot for the night.
As the sunsets the party continues.
The work continues as the light turns on.
Big Joe, Gus, Ken and Alex feels lucky tonight.
Peter working as the minutes continue to tick away.
As Peter nears the end of the demo, people start taking photos of the post wiring work.
Peter selects the winner!
Lindsay thanks Peter for inviting the club to his house and being a gracious host.
Peter finishing up the tree.
Let the loot grab begin! Look at all the smiling faces.
The winner for the night! Martha!
If you liked the photos check out the FB Live Stream here.
If you been following this blog you have noticed that we go almost about anywhere to visit and look at bonsai material and masters. This time our adventure leads up north of San Francisco. I've really never been north of San Francisco around the coastline in all my life so this excursion was a treat for me.
I had a long conversation with Jim Gremel at the Shohin Seminar in Santa Nella. I told him that I would love to visit him if I'm anywhere near San Francisco and he responded with, "Just email or call me and if I'm home you are always welcomed to drop by." Well that day came in late July and we drove to the middle of nowhere. I really mean the middle of nowhere. If you have Facebook here is a link to a video of the drive in: Click Here.
Maybe that is part of the adventure of the unknown. But once you arrive at his house it really becomes a bonsai haven. Tucked away in the coastal redwoods with a hint of an ocean breeze with little to no neighbors but the deers that roam wild. Then in all that you find Jim Gremel and his trees.
Then of course you get greeted by Jim. Trees of all types everywhere like an explosion of foliage and for the feast for the eyes to take in. Jim is known for his Blue Atlas Cedar and there were several greeting you as you enter the bonsai court.
Jim has an apprentice that does most of the heavy grunt work but was absent the day we visited. From what I have seen Bally has a really deep skill set the art of bonsai from the work I seen at Gremel's.
Trees are everywhere and every single square inch is used up. Some benches need major upkeep while other are just dead on beautiful. Like all bonsai garden the work is never finished. Unless the trees are dead and of course Jim has some of those too!
Did I mention Jim is known for Blue Atlas Cedars? Here is one beautifully field grown tree that Jim and Bally had a chance to put the initial wiring after being dug out from the field. If you noticed the movement in the trunk? All that hard work done in the field plays dividends when you get the tree out of the grow. This trunk line is just gorgeous!
Jim gives me a tour of the backyard or the growing field for the about an hour. These field is larger and denser that you will expect. Be prepared to trek through some rough foliage. The field is filled with Blue Atlas Cedars, Japanese Black Pines, and some 30 year old apple trees.
Even Japanese Black Pines have some nice movement to them. It just a testament how much time Jim has put into all his trees.
Here is a wide shot of some of his pines in the ground.
Our tour ended where we started with the bonsai court trees. This is a collected California Juniper which had its foliage grafted with shimpaku. But our tour did not really end here. Jim is also an accomplished potter and copper wire maker.
I was lucky to visit while he had some pots already made and ready for sale. This furnace is human size you can really stack this up with pots and still have room left over. This is Jim larger kiln he also has a smaller one on the side. Nanban style or freeform round style is what Jim totally enjoys to make.
I'll leave this post with several trees that need introduction as the work speaks for itself. If you are traveling to San Francisco or near you might make some time to visit Jim Gremel as you will be pleasantly surprised. Until the next post!