THE “BURRS” Bonsai Residency Workshops 2007.

 

 

Hi, everybody,

my workshop weekend at “BURRS” (UK)  10 & 11 November 2007

For the second year running, I was invited by my dear friend Tony Tickle to do a weekend-long workshop in his (the now already legendary)   “BURRS” Bonsai Residency Workshops in the UK. Together with Enrico Savini and his student Ivo from (Italy) and my good friend Terry Foster we worked with almost 30 bonsai friends from all parts of Europe, with wonderful material.  The bunkhouse where this bonsai weekend takes place is situated in a park with nothing else but a pub across the road….how lucky can you get?  And on Saturday night there was wonderful food and later, all kind of whisky was there to sample, while Enrico and Ivo gave a demo on a magnificent Pine and I worked on a “one branch” Yew from my mate Terry.  Again it was a great success to all, I had a wonderful time with my old friends and made some new once this time! And November 2008, Enrico, Ivo, Terry and me will be back for more and so is everybody else that was there, because it was fully booked, the minute this last one ended! I hope you enjoy the images of this, yet another, great “BURRS” Bonsai weekend!

 I arrived early Thursday night “Very relieved” at John Lennon airport Liverpool. I took off from Amsterdam in the middle of a heavy storm! Just after the bumpy take off, the plain just fall down for a (long) couple of seconds! Everybody screamed and the sleeping guy next to me crept hold of my leg. Then there was an enormous bang when the plain got hold of some air again! It scared the living shit out of me and I had to re-swallow most of my meal for the second time. So In a panic, I tried to take an anti-air sickness pill, but I had nothing to drink with me on board (thanks to you know who?), so I tried to swallow the thing without any water! Trying to swallow a pill the size of a small golf ball, with a dry mouth from fear, is simply impossible! And so the damn thing started to melt on my tong, so I had to spit it out! After that, it took several hours before I finally could speak again without a lisp! But until this day, I still not got my normal taste back in my mouth! After a bouncy landing, my humour got quickly better, when I met up with Tony, who brought me to his car were Enrico and Ivo were already waiting. Along the way to the house of Terry, where I would stay during the weekend, we had an animated talk about… well stuff!! 😉 They dropped me off at Terry and Charlot’s place, just in time for a lovely home cooked big and juicy pepper steak, fresh from the Hill’s (I’m drooling on my keyboard again)! Then some beer and a film on his wall-size television and then (around 2) off to bed, for a short night. Early in the next morning while, Terry was making a large breakfast, I had a chance to wander through his amazing collection of bonsai.   I admire Terry’s delegate style and I would like to share some of his lovely Bonsai that I saw that cold morning. Enjoy!

                                                   Bellow: Terry’s garden.

Bellow: One-off my favourites: A lovely small “Hawthorn” on a piece of rock that seems to be made for this tree. Terry him self-found this rock as well.

Bellow: A great “Yew” on another wonderful rock and another of Terry’s famous “Hawthorns”.

Below: Later that morning we were joined by Tony, Enrico and Ivo. Under the pleasure of warm coffee and croissants, Enrico and Ivo had a long look at Terry’s trees, Especially this old and very twisted “Yew” had there intention!

Below: Then Tony drove Enrico, Ivo and me, up North, to a magical place. I have been there before, but Enrico and Ivo saw this wondrous place for the first time. You can find there very ancient trees, like this beautiful “Yew” tree. You only have to stick it into a pot and voila! But any collecting here is out of the question!

Below: Than we had some typical English lunch in a lovely old tavern in a very small village!

Below: After this lunch, we drove further up North to look for “Yamadori”. Tony drove his 4 wheel drive right up to the top of a small mountain. Is was wonderful up there.

                       Below: Look what I found buried under a massive rock!

It took some work to free this amazing Yew from under that large rock that you can still see on the left off the tree. And because this old “Yew” grew on a large piece of flat rock its roots spread is awesome!

Below: Happy me, with a beautiful “Shohin” sized Yamadori “Yew”.

                               Below: Ivo guarding our newly found treasures!

Below:  Picture with a Press release. As posted on the IBC NEWS forum:

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BBC News London.

Northern England:

Today, late in the afternoon, high on the south side of mount “Glenn Morecock”, after a tip received from a Dutch backpacker, 3 odd looking persons were caught in the middle of some sort of strange and suspicious ritual.

Pati O’furniture, the mountain ranger who apprehended the suspicious man said: It must have been around Sunset when I finally stumbled on this 3 weird behaving man!  I caught them on camera,  just in the middle of some sort of bizarre offering! The man on the left, stood there with a silly grin on his face, holding, what seemed to be a bare rooted Yew. While the man in the middle kept repeating with an obvious foreign accent the same lines over and over again: I am only the translator, where is the pub?! A little further up the hill the third man, kept mumbling: Damn those cheap contact lenses!

All three persons were taken down the mountain, during which several telephone calls were made by the man in the middle to his wife. After further investigations, everything seemed to be a misunderstanding based on a falls tip! The three-man were immediately released, with apologies. The Dutch backpacker was last seen driving on the road to Liverpool, with a trunk full of small trees and a big grin on his face!!!! Grin Grin

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Below: Sorry for the poor quality of the next 3 pictures, bud it was very stormy and I was very cold! LOL. The 3 “Yews” were left soaking in water overnight, so their roots could fill up with water. Then early next morning, Terry and I planted them in suitable plastic containers (look at the amazing roots), in a mixture of Akadama and Biosorb (cat litre). Terry is an expert in these little gems, so I let him do most of the work. LOL. The trees were firmly attached in there containers so that there would be no change of root damage when moved.

Then it was high time to leave for “Burrs” were people were already hard at work!

The next pictures are made by several participants, but I know they don’t mind me sharing them here with you all!

Below: This is how bonsai heaven looks like from the inside! A Saturday and Sunday of pure FUN!

Below: Mick, working on a “Yamadori” common Juniper, came together with Morea, over a very stormy sea all the way from Holland.

                                          Below: Less concentrated at work.

Below: Me bending Daves “Juniper” and Ian is waiting for it to snap! The branch was hollowed out and filled with lengths of aluminium wire, than raffia and tape to protect it from breaking.

Below: Ivo and Enrico discussing John’s “Itoigawa Juniper” and me on the right ears dropping.

              Below: Discussing trees helps! Here is the finished tree of John.

Below: The design for Bob’s  Pine.

Below: Happy Bob with his finished tree!

Below: Dave and Terry working hard on Dave’s “Yew”.

Below: The lovely end result!

Below: Chris worked very hard for two days preparing his big “Scots Pine” for styling.

                            Below: Terry and me helping Chris with his tree.

                         Below: A too low-end picture of the finished result.

                             Picture 30: Enrico and Ivo splitting a “Juniper”.

                Below: Some people kept on working, way past there bedtime!

 On Saturday evening, after a hard days work, followed by a  great meal, it was time for the boys and girl to sit back and relax while enjoying a wide ranch of alcoholic drinks, snacks and watching an informal evening demonstration by Tony, Enrico & Ivo and me.

                             The “Burrs” Saturday evening demonstrations.

Tony planted a beautiful small “Yew” on a very heavy stone he earlier prepared. I still don’t understand how he managed to get that big hole in that hard rock.

                 

Enrico and Ivo demonstrated on Tony’s Big Yamadori “Scots Pine”. It was an enormous transformation, made possible by  Enrico’s great technical knowledge and beautiful style. Some extreme heavy bending was don by these two, and it was great fun for me to throw a heavy metal oven tray on the floor behind them, while they were very concentrated bending the thickest branch! Boy, can those Italians jump high! LOL :). The outcome of their hard work was absolutely amazing!

My demonstration was on an elegant, “one branch” Yamadori “Yew” from Terry. The deadwood whirls around the whole length of the slim trunk, so I decided to go along with this character of this tree.  I  made the one life branch dance around the back of the tree, towards the front again, in harmony with the gentle movement of the tree. The opening that you see between the branch (in raffia) and the trunk, looks much less obvious in real life. Breaking the rules about not crossing branches? But that was on purpose and necessary because of … hé if it works…who cares?!

Below: Sitting down to draw my design for the tree and to take off the weight of my back, that was absolutely killing me!

Below: And this is what was waiting for use on the Sunday morning before the last day started.

And after the last day of intense and hard but fun work, it all came to an end way too soon! I enjoyed my self immensely and found it a great privilege to work with such enthusiastic Bonsai fanatics, who trusted us enough, to work with them on there loved and valuable trees, without any hesitation’s! Well, Enrico, Ivo, Terry and me are invited to do it all over again in November 2008, and I have heart it is already fully booked again! I can’t wait!

I hoped you enjoyed this “Burrs” story?

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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MY DEMO AT THE LAST “GINKGO AWARD” 2007.

Hi, everybody,

I can clearly remember the day that Danny User asked me to demonstrate at his 2007 “Ginkgo award”! He called me (which he never those) at work and asked if I had something to do in September next year? And if not, would I like to demonstrate at his next and last “Ginkgo awards”? He knocked me right off my feed and I accepted full-hearted YES!!! The “Ginkgo award” holds a special place in my heard and to demonstrate there is and was a dream come true for me, so I could not be any happier!

Two days before the event I drove to Danny and Ingrid Bonsai Centre “Ginkgo” in Belgium to bring in my 4 bonsai that were selected for the show, and to find a suitable tree for me to demonstrate on among the literary many hundreds of raw material that you can find there. After I brought my Bonsai to where they were photographed for the commemorative “best Bonsai in Europe” book, I headed outside to look among the many hundreds of trees to find an inspiring tree. But even with this many choices, finding a tree among the many that Danny has in his enormous place is not as easy as it might seem! I searched for the right tree as if I was buying it for my own collection. The tree had to appeal to my taste of Bonsai and tickle my imagination at the same time. My demonstration trees always reflect where I’m at that moment in Bonsai and it must always end up looking the same as when I had styled it in my own garden as a future Bonsai for my private collection! A big part of my Bonsai collection today, still consists of my former demo trees. After a long search, I ended up with two possible candidates! Both Yamadori “Yews” from Japan. One with a lot of fantastic deadwood to work on with heavy machines, but almost now foliage to work with. And one with a lot of problems to solve, but enough foliage to work with. They both had a good possibility to demonstrate on and to become a good pre-Bonsai that reflecting my approach, taste and style. Because working on the first tree mend, that I had to be doing wood carving for most of the two-day demonstration, making a lot of noise with my power tools, bothering the other demonstrators and the stand workers that were all in the same big greenhouse with me! So I chose the second tree, it was more challenging for me anyway, with a lot more nice Yamadori problems to solve or incorporate into the design that I envisioned when I first looked at this lovely tree. The tree gave me lots of good Bonsai vibes!

                                 Picture 1: shows the chosen front of the tree.

                    Picture 2: shows me when I just discovered my demo tree.

 Picture 3: shows the very hot demonstration airier. Some big names with on the fare right, U can just see  William “Bill” Valavanis from the USA, next to him Udu Fisher from Germany, next to him Sandro Signeri from Italy and I’m the one on the left and I’m from Holland.

 Picture 4,5,6: The start of my demo, Here I am cleaning and plucking the branches to prepare them for wiring.

Picture 7: here you can see me removing the too long and to highly placed top branches. Leaving some stumps that might be useful later, when I start working on the deadwood design!

Picture 8: Here I am looking where the all-important live lines of the tree are running. I do this with a small sharp chisel, peeling away the bark until I reach the live parts. In this case that was quite difficult to determent, because of the little difference in colour between the life and the dead part. So needless to say: I had to be very careful.

Picture 9: After I was really sure where it was safe to work, I could start working freely, without any fear for the health of the tree in the back of my mind. All I just had to do, was stay in between the lines! I worked with both power tools and hand tools to first remove all the rotted wood and other unwanted parts. Then I just started to free flow, taking bits away, discovering a point of interest or beauty, a Little creating or revealing. But always working very carefully, following the grain of the wood. Gradually I worked towards the point were smaller bits were necessary on my power tool, to create, or reveal more detail in the deadwood. It is advisable to always wear Eye protection and always use a mask! The dust from working on a Yew with power tools is irritating to your eyes and can give you a bad chest pain and cough for days! BELIEVE ME!!! I know what I’m talking about! (ugh ugh) :).

Picture 10, 11,12: My good old friend William van Vlaandre (inventor of the “SAMURAI” power tool bit), gave me one of his specially made power tools, loaded with his biggest “Samurai”, to use on the bigger parts of deadwood at the top of the tree. And it went like a warm knife through butter! Amazing you could make a small canoe out of a big tree in half an hour with this monster! Even the otherwise almost unworkable fresh and therefore wet wood, was no problem! It left a smooth surface! And with some care it was even possible to create more subtle details as well, it worked great! Only both my arms would disagree with these statements, they looked like I had been carrying 3 hedgehogs on fire! LOL! 😬😊

                            Picture 13: More detailed carving on the top “JIN”.

                                  Picture 14: View on the demonstrating area.

Picture 15: The three top branches that would make up the whole top part of the tree, we’re way too thick to be bent with just wire! So they first had to be protected with tight applied layers of in water-soaked Raffia. Than 4 strings of copper wire was placed lengthwise along the part of the branch that needed to be bend. Then another layer of wet Raffia was applied and then some more normal wiring with thick copper wire on top of that layer. Now I was sure that I could bend the branches with minimal risk of harming the tree. It would only need great force!

Picture 16, 17, 18: Now I could safely start, to gradually bend the very tough branches into their desired positions. Taking my time, piece by piece, until I could secure them with the help of some thin copper wire attached to a couple of Jins and one small screw.

Picture 19: After a wild long night playing snooker (pool) with my Bonsai friends and only 4 hours of sleep, I started with the detail wiring of the tree. Trying to keep in pace with the marching band in my head!🥴

Picture 20: Finally the real fun part of styling a tree hat arrived. When I am bringing all the branches into position, I am totally in the zone, I love it, it is magical to almost paint with foliage until I feel it looks good. Trying to create something I like and find beautiful in Bonsai, within the boundaries of what each tree has to offer to me, is always a wonderful experience. To do it on this stage with this valuable material Danny entrusted me with, made it even more elevating and meaningful to me!

Picture 21: Close up of the basic first deadwood on the back part of the tree and the branches.

Picture 19, 20: Some last detail works on the deadwood using a very hard plastic brush, that left a grain-like texture on the still soft fresh part on the top.

Picture 21: YES! Finished and drained, but happy with the result and the beer that was waiting on the other side of the camera!

Picture 22: The final result. I hope you liked this little demo story and the final image of this pre-bonsai? It was, as I said before, a great honour to do! Especially because this was the last “Ginkgo award”! It was a very happy and a bit melancholic experience!

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                               My “Ginkgo Award 2007” demonstration tree.

                                A “Taxus cuspidata   Yamadori from Japan.

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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