I have been experimenting since March, 2012 with making bonsai pots using 2 types of sandstone slabs. They are known as “New York Bluestone” and “New York Multicolor”. The main difference, of course, is the color, and even those are subtle differences. It is reasonably easy to score and break, and very easy to drill holes through. The innovation here, is that I make the panels to more-or-less precise dimensions, drill holes at strategic points, and stitch the panels together with annealed copper wire, to make pots. They have been described as rustic, crude, rough-around-the-edges, unique, primitive, simple, and unrefined. (My wife, Sandie, pointed out that those words all describe me as well. She likes me anyway: - )
Eventually, moss and lichen will grow from the many gaps between panels, and I think that will only improve the appearance of the pot-tree-assembly. To keep the media inside the pot, I ‘chink’ the gaps with moss, backed up by fresh sphagnum moss.
One idea leads to another—I originally thought of making some slabs of regular clay pot material, with holes provided to accommodate the copper wire ‘stitches’. I had a unique tree that needed a unique pot, and that seemed like a good idea. I even commissioned a potter to make the pilot pot. He tried, but some of the panels broke in the heat process, and the result he said was quite ugly. While he was working on the pottery, I became impatient and decided to try some blue stone; the same stuff I have used many times to make slabs for bonsai. The very first pot I made was not for my tree, but for one belonging to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids. That 200-year old Ponderosa pine had been a source of frustration for the 12 years we had been developing the tree—no pot we could find did the tree justice; just did not ‘fit’.
We put the tree in my home-made pot in April and were pleased with the appearance. As it turned out, Pauline Muth was the judge at the Michigan All State Bonsai Convention in May, 2012. (The event happens every May at Frederik Meijer Gardens.) She awarded the tree a ‘Bonsai Clubs International, Excellence in Bonsai Award' and commented that the tree and the pot were ‘A perfect Match’.
By then I had made a couple more pots. One of the pots is for the original unique tree—a White cedar. I will install the tree into that pot in April of 2013.( See images below). It would appear there is no limit to the styles that are possible, or the size of the pots one might make, of course limited by what you can lift. At this point I am unsure where this all might lead, but I am having fun trying various techniques and exploring many ideas for styles, and materials from which to make them.
I will be posting photos of some of the pots I have made on my MyNorth.com web site. You are welcome to view them.
10. Ponderosa pine from the collection at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan
All photos © Dean Bull 2012