Here I sit, in my old PT cruiser, awaiting my spawn. I have this little bonsai pot sitting in my drink holder beside me.
It’s not much, really. It’s what they call a “production pot”. I do believe it’s Japanese, which means it’s most likely from the city of Tokoname, Japan, in the Aichi prefecture. I find it funny that many people think a Tokoname pot is special, considering that the most famous output from the city, in terms of ceramics, are those goofy Lucky Cats that wave at you as you sit at the sushi bar eating raw fish.
Well, those cats and toilets.
Anyway. I like the pot.
I have a weakness for interesting pots.
Here’s one I won in a Facebook auction, from Josh Jeram
I’ve been watching his work and this one came up so I jumped on it quick. Damned fine construction and the glaze is sweet. Give me a good handmade bonsai pot any day.
I’ve used many types of containers for training purposes. Chopped down black nursery cans, 5 gallon buckets, cement mixing tubs. But this is not the best container to use.
It’s a colander. A Betty Crocker brand colander, to be precise.
I know they are all the rage at the moment (the colander allows the trees roots to escape out of the drain holes, then the roots dry out, essentially pruning them, so you don’t get circling roots. It’s a valid growing technique, but be careful because the tree grows so many roots, they get root bound fast) but colanders aren’t really meant for outdoor use. Get yourself a pond basket or a root maker nursery container. They’re readily available and designed for many years of use.
A colander may be cheap but, yeah, no…
There are many good plastic bonsai pots I use for training purposes.
This one is sturdy, it drains well.
And they’re inexpensive. But those are just for training.
Here’s a pot by a local Florida potter, Trudy Von Linsowe. I got it at the last Bonsai Societies of Florida convention. your regional convention attracts all types of bonsai potters, take a trip.
Trudy is awesome. On this container, the construction is great and the glaze is sublime.
A faded red, almost a wash.
And here’s another sweet pot from new bonsai potter (but an experienced ceramics artist) Barbara Bonaduce. This was purchased by my client, Janice, and we just put a Helen Johnson Bougie in it. Barbara knows glazes, being experienced beyond just bonsai containers.
In fact, she’s perfected the “gold” glaze that some people think is so difficult.
It is difficult to photograph
Especially with an iPhone 6s.
And one more plug for a friend, the gentleman we call Guaracha.
Go check out his Instagram page
Here is a simple Chinese pot. It’s a better quality than average pot. The lines are sharp, the finish is smooth.
It works too. Why do we use shallow containers for bonsai? It’s a valid question but many people don’t know the real reason.
They’ll say that a shallow pot “dwarfs” the tree. Or keeps it from growing tall (a splitting of a hair but those are two different things).
The only reason we use bonsai pots are just to make the tree look bigger. It’s an illusion of framing. The more shallow a pot, the larger the trunk looks.
Here’s an example from earlier in the year. A Brazilian Raintree from this post. I didn’t end up using the pot below, but these two pics illustrate my concept. It’s just a trick of perspective.
What’s funny is that all of the horticultural techniques we use in shaping the trees, from soil ingredients to fertilizing strategies, come from the artistic principle of framing the view to make the tree look bigger.
Let’s get back to that first pot that started my rambling.
It looks ancient.
It could be as much as 30-40 years old. To my son that’s ancient I guess. Or it could be only a year or two old. But bonsai has been practiced for about a thousand years, in one form or another. We don’t have many pots from that time, but the ones that have survived, are cherished. I’m not one to like something just because it’s old.
I like this little pot.
I like all the new pots I showed above (except the Betty Crocker one)
To me, the container and what a person likes, is a personal thing. I don’t question what you’ve chosen unless you ask me my opinion.
And that attitude is not a surprise to my loyal readers. If you like a pink pot, use a pink pot. Just make sure it conveys the idea that you are trying to illustrate. If you are showing a bald cypress, and it’s in a swamp style, a blue pot, indicative of water, may be the color you should use.
Bonsai is, after all, a representational Art.