This weekend I was asked by the Bonsai Society of Brevard to give a demonstration. They gave me freedom to choose my material and I used an ilex I’ve been prepping for about 3 years for the demo.
Here it is before
I consider the Brevard club one of my home away from homes. I’m good friends with many of its members and the group is just the friendliest in the state.
It’s also one of the biggest.
The leadership has taken it upon themselves to bring bonsai to the community in various ways in order to spread the Art.
They have a very functional kids group (The Youth Auxiliary), a public, permanent exhibit at the Brevard Zoo (Rob Kempinski is the curator) and they participate in an annual Art show in downtown Melbourne. Plus all the usual membership things like advertising, participation in horticultural events etc.
It’s a very welcoming and energetic group.
Here is the crowd
Personally, I counted 172 people (the official count was closer to 50. I trust my count…)
When I give a talk I usual begin by asking how many beginners are in the crowd.
It also helps an artist when the more advanced people (the ringers) in the room ask the simple questions. Sometimes those simple questions aren’t very obvious.
This is me taking a sip of my tequila
I try to be funny when I give a demo, but I’m terribly subtle. Terribly.
This tree lends itself to the Southern Live Oak style (or, cow tree if you prefer. Meaning, imagine a two hundred year old oak tree in a cow pasture with giant spreading limbs where, in the heat of a Florida summer, some cows can pass the time in the shade, chewing their cud until the afternoon thunderstorm blows in to cool off the day)
I begin to talk about the species a bit.
Ilex vomitoria “schillings”.
I tell the story of the native Florida tribe, the Calusa, and their pre-war ritual brew- Black Drink.
It seems like they were paying attention
Then I get into the conspiracy
Every demo needs a good conspiracy theory.
It seems that the name ilex vomitoria was chosen by a man who happened to own some coffee plantations. Why is this a conspiracy?
This “Black Drink” also happens to have a high caffeine content. Enough that it would have competed with his coffee. So, he gave it the name “vomitoria” to scare people off.
Or so the story goes.
Anyway, you may know, I am known to sketch a bit.
Here’s me, drawing upside down, explaining that, perhaps the term “apex” is not a good name for the top of a tree.
That big barrel looking thing on the top right is a cross section of a branch. It’s a bit surreal. It just needs a floating goat, á la Marc Chagall, and it would be complete.
Here you can see the tequila starting to take effect
It seems like the top half of the tree is beginning to levitate too. Or at least it did to me then.
You wouldn’t know it from my blog but I’m a bit shy and quiet. When someone asks a question it really makes the process easier for me
This is the point where I begin to get sad. I’ve been looking at and preparing this tree for about four years. I’ll be saying good bye to it soon.
At this point I get the two minute warning.
Shit, I have at least three minutes of work to do.
Nose down and to work
That’s my serious look.
Damn! Those are powerful looking forearms (and pretty bad bags under my eyes. And I need a hair cut too. Ya hippie!)
So I do finish it within my time period (sorta)
The lovely Portia was the raffle winner
It seems that every time I provide a tree for a demo I end up wanting the tree more than when it was sitting in my yard.
I would like to honestly thank the Brevard club for inviting me to perform a demo again.
I got to meet a friend on Tumblr (Godzilladontplay) who ended up joining the club, which was cool.
And I assure you, I did not have any tequila during the demo (my buddy Mike failed me…alas)
Here is the final sketch
The various photographers were Dave, Guaracha and Ronn. I won’t say who took what as it might incriminate them.
Check out Brevards website http://www.bonsaisocietyofbrevard.org/ and visit them if you’re ever in Melbourne.