Interview - with David Russel of D.R. Bonsai Tables
Introducing the ‘MASTERCLASS SERIES’
It is truly a pleasure to see such an intricately designed and refined piece of furniture made in Europe.
Can you tell us more please about the idea behind the Masterclass Series?
After some years of wanting to create more intensive and detailed tables, but never having the time, a client asked me to look out for a best match table for his high level tree. This immediately reignited my aspiration and soon I agreed to making this special table, even if it will take a long time to build.
I have always taken inspiration for my tables from museums, antique tables, and the Gafu-ten exhibition in Japan. I read in the book of 'Edoardo Rossi' (Kazari) that there were masterclass tables in Japan, the photos of which were collated in a book , entitled ‘The book of tables’. This led me to the Idea of offering my clients such a limited series of intricate ‘masterclass tables.’
I will aim to make one a year. The amount of work is very intensive and a table like this takes a lot of time to design and create. It is hard to know how many I will be able to make as each one will be unique. I will not repeat the same design twice. I cannot spend all my time on one table like this, so I will need to work on it between other commissions.
The wood on the first model is a variant of Sipo wood from old stock I had the chance to buy, most of my money goes into buying rare wood for future projects.
I'm now making a second model using Ovangkol wood, which is more often used in musical instruments construction, such as for guitars etc.
I would like to use some Zelkova wood but we have none in Europe that I could find so far.
In most cases I like to use exotic wood because of the beautiful grain. The last table that I build for my own collection was from Imbuia wood. I imagine I'm the only one in Belgium with a small amount of this wood as the tree is now protected and export not allowed. Beside this, the wood is very expensive and it would make the total price of work and materials too high I guess.
The finish takes many hours of applying layers of oils etc. It also takes a lot of work to meticulously sand all the small details before you can start with the finish. All in all it is the kind of work you need 100% focus for - so it cannot be done in one go, and must be left to rest from time to time.
Yes, I think so. Every detail is carefully attended to. The transport case for example, will have a second fabric protection with the DR logo so you will notice directly when the box is opening that a masterclass table is inside.
In japan these tables are stocked in a special room separately of other tables because of their value and as a sign of respect.
I'm now busy on a new one, which I completely designed myself so I'm almost sure there will not be another like this in the world which for me makes even more interesting .
Japanese-Inspired .. Italian-made.
Pots by Yaruki Ceramics will be in the EBPC shop on Thursday 8th - and will be sent to buyers DIRECTLY by the artist - from within the EU.
Perfect training pots for the serious enthusiast and ideal all round growing pots, with multiple advantages over traditional plastic pots.
The design of the pot, not only offers air-pruning technology, to reduced root circling and increase feeder-root mass, it also aids in drainage and air-circulation. Healthier roots mean healthier trees.
The potential to ‘guy wire’ rather than wire branches has many advantages, such as less chance of causing wire damage or knocking off almost invisible new buds.
...... Written by developer, Jens Lindworsky, Austria
Plant roots absorb most of the water and nutrients in the area closely behind the root tip. By air pruning the roots develop more branches and therefore more active root tips. The overall absorption surface increases significantly. In addition, the spatial structure of the roots improves.
In normal pots it can occur that 80-90% of the root tips are located in a relatively thin layer (6-12) directly at the pot wall. In air pruning pots the new tips grow evenly distributed throughout the entire substrate. The effects being:
- More intensive absorption of water and nutrients, less fertilizer is leached out of the pot,
- Trees are more resistant to temperature extremes as the roots in the centre of the root ball are better isolated
- Higher stress resistance e.g. against drought stress
- Increased overall growth of the plants.
There are numerous scientific studies about how much the growth of different plants is increased by this technique. The results vary due to the different species that were examined and due to different setups of the experiments. In most cases the acceleration was in a low double-digit percentage range.
When you repot roots that grew in a normal pot you always have to cut off overlong circling roots. As a result, you often have to remove a significant part of the root mass.
In air pruning pots there are no/less circling roots. If you loosen up the roots you find a root ball that is hardly bigger than the pot. How much of this you prune during repotting is up to you. This is especially favourable when trees are moved from training pots into bonsai pots.
Welcome to ‘Honorary European Members’ ... Willow Bonsai Pots of South Africa!
Antony and Mavourneen Smith ...aka ‘Willow Bonsai Pots’ are a wonderful couple from Pretoria, who have been passionately pushing the boundaries for South African bonsai and have become popular on the European bonsai scene. Antony demonstrated at the U.K. National Bonsai Show 2019, and whilst in London, I took the couple to visit leading potters; Stone Monkey Ceramics and Walsall Studio Ceramics. Having spent some time with them, it really was inspiring to see their dedication to bonsai and to creating attractive, useable and affordable pots.
We are excited to announce that Willow Bonsai Pots are producing a limited edition EBPC Stamped range of their beautiful pots, with some of their best forms and glazes. These will be available in the EBPC store, and will be released at ‘The Trophy’ exhibition, in Belgium at the end of February 2020.
Congratulations also to Willow Bonsai on their new website – being launched NOW – as this article is published!
But first, you can read more about them and see a selection of their pots on their ‘Potter Profile’ here.
Selected pots will also be recorded for all time in the highly regarded Trophy book, from Bonsai Association Belgium.
The 2019 book has approximately 50 pages dedicated to the pot display alone.
... To get your copy of the 2019 book, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
One of the very best Bonsai Exhibitions on the European circuit is now over again for another year - but what a weekend it was!
Here is a brief overview of parts of the show from the EBPC perspective.
Although an 18 hours round trip (driving) from London, the EBPC always supports this great event, which brings together friends, enthusiasts, and some of the best bonsai trees from across Europe. Set in beautiful French countryside, the exhibition is in one large open room, with huge vaulted ceiling beams like the hull of a ship, and high windows that allow light to flood in; perfect for viewing some of Europe's finest specimen bonsai and catching up with friends and other enthusiasts that visit from every corner of the globe!
EBPC Trade Stand
The EBPC trade stand, as in previous years, is quite imposing at 30ft in length and is beautifully positioned, directly opposite to exhibition trees, yet with maximum space for enthusiasts to browse in comfort. Pots by over 20 EBPC member potters were available on the stand, the main focus this year was on new pots by: Bryan Albright, Ian Baillie, Me & Raimondi, Guerao and Walsall Studio Ceramics.
The EBPC had on offer a variety of fantastic new pots from many of europe's leading potters, and enjoyed a very fun and successful weekend trading. We would like to thank not only our customers, both returning and new, but also the fantastic EBPC potter members for creating such wonderful pots especially for the EBPC and its customers; many great pieces were snapped up, and we look forward to seeing more photographs soon in 'Trees in EBPC pots'! (Please don't forget to send them in! )
EBPC Focus: EBSS Exhibition trees in European made bonsai pots
In recent years at high level shows such as this, there has been a noticeable increase in the quality of not just the trees, but also the bonsai pots chosen. Many more bonsai artists and hobbyists are learning to appreciate the intricate attributes of high quality bonsai pots and the benefit of their appropriate use.
This year, a large number of the trees in the exhibition were in high quality European bonsai pots, in addition to Japanese or antique Chinese containers, which made selecting the 'EBPC Best Match European Pot and Tree' winner a difficult task. After much deliberation however, three of the EBPC member potters and myself all agreed on the eventual outcome.
A selection of the trees in European pots we admired or found interesting:
Which were your favourite Pot / Tree combinations?
EBPC Award for the 'EBSS Best Match Bonsai Pot and Tree 2019'
This award focuses on the best combination of pot with tree, rather than the best tree or pot in themselves. Myself and 3 EBPC member potters were looking for a balanced harmonious coupling of tree and pot, whereby the pot enhances the overall image and characteristics of the tree, without being an overriding focal point in itself.
As can be seen above, many of the trees were beautifully paired with their European pots, so this was a difficult call to make, however, each of the judges were in agreement on the winner - this beautiful Ulmus Carpinifolie in a shallow rectangular Bryan Albright bonsai pot by Martin Nielson of Denmark.
An explanation of our thoughts ...
- The width of the pot is perfect; it does not 'clash' with the foliage by being the same width, and as the tree is taller than it is wide, the pot width is less than the width of the foliage spread, and by just the right amount.
- The shallow profile of this pot gives this composition a landscape impression of a tree in an open field.
- The shallow pot depth also enhances the trunk of the tree.
- The straight lines of the rectangle balance the composition and harmonise with the feminine characteristics of the tree.
- This shape does not clash with the round foliage mass as a round pot might.
- The soft glaze in blue with hints of light browns compliments beautifully the colours of the autumnal turning leaves.
- The 'shibui' form of the pot, together with this soft yet vibrant glaze, do not overpower the tree - but act to emphasise the trunk and the beautiful colour within the well ramified foliage mass.
The Trophy for this category was made by the fantastic potter; EBPC member, Sabine Besnard and depicts a 'pot & Prunus mume branch in flower,' sculpted from clay and mounted on a beautiful piece of hardwood, with laser inscribed lettering and the stamp marks of Sabine Besnard and the EBPC.
We offer a huge thank you to Sabine for making this wonderful award, and congratulations to Martin, who not only won this award for this tree, but also that of 'Best Bonsaist', which takes into account the techniques and dedication required along the incredible 20 years journey in creating this bonsai from collected material.
This has covered of course just a fraction of what was on offer at this great exhibition. As a trader it is hard to see or record all of the show, and I was unable to look in on for example the demonstrations by world-leading bonsai artists; Bjorn Bjorholm, Raffael Torres and Jan Culek, although im sure you will find many other blogs about those.
There were also around 10 EBPC potter members trading themselves, and it was wonderful to catch up with them and our customers and friends from around Europe. A final thank you must go out to the incredible organisers of this event, Fred and Stephanie Chenal, whose tireless work throughout the year make it possible for so many to gain enjoyment from such a well organised and friendly event. ... See you next year!
The EBPC are very excited to be attending and supporting one of Europe's premiere shows, and one of our personal favourites - the EBBS in Saulieu France next weekend. This is an open hall exhibition with everything in one enormous room. The ex-cattle market has imposing vaulted ceiling beams and ample light flooding in, making it an ideal venue.
This exhibition has improved year on year and the standard of trees, demonstrations and traders is superb. The organisers have also done an incredible job creating a show with a warm friendly atmosphere.
With many of Europe's finest trees on show, and demonstrators on the level of Bjorn Bjorholm, Mauro Stemberg, and Jan Culek, including many other attractions (superb new EBPC pots for example!) this is a show not to be missed!
A beautiful handmade EBPC trophy kindly made by leading ceramist Sabine Besnard of France will be awarded to the winner of the category 'Best European Bonsai Pot and Tree Combination'. The trophy is of an Ume branch in flower ,with a matching bowl on wood, and is laser etched and has both the stamps of Sabine and the EBPC.
As with each year, the EBPC will also donate a prize for the increasingly popular 'Tombola raffle'. This year a stunning pot by the fantastic and highly skilled artist, Ian Baillie of Scotland will be donated and taken home by one lucky winner.
We are especially excited about the EBPC trade stand this year, as we ave had some fantastic new pots in especially for this event, by some of the most sought after artists in Europe! .. Be sure to stop by the stand and say 'hi'!
Thank you for reading and we hope to see you there!
... Exhibition trees and demonstrations
The U.K. National Bonsai show is a bi-annual event based in Bury near Manchester, England.
This year the demonstrations were some of the best I have seen, performed by leading artists from around the world, including Bjorn Bjornholm (USA), Rafael Torres (Spain), Anthony Smith (S Africa) and Hugo Luna Zamora (Mexico).
The Exhibition of trees was of a very high quality, with Bjorn even commenting that some could have made it into the Taiken-ten, and possibly even the Kokufu-ten in Japan!
One highlight was the well thought out and compelling 'Lord of the Rings' themed display by Steve Hale. A magnificent Trident maple on 'legs' in pot by Ian Baillie, sits on a dragon carved table by leading U.K. maker Doug Mudd, and with an accent Kusamono through which Bilbo Baggins and Frodo are wading. A additional small accent to the rear contains the ring. Such adventurous displays can be risky and are difficult to get right. Each element was ingeniously designed and beautifully balanced within the composition.
... U.K. National Pot Display, by the EBPC.
An exhibition of high quality bonsai ceramics from around Europe, displaying the increasing levels of talent in this part of the world.
... EBPC Trade Stand ... some real treasures!
The EBPC had some superb pots, EBPC stamped and freshly made for the event by EBPC potters including amongst others: Maria Jose Gonzales, Roman Husmann, Marc Berenbrinker, and Erin Pottery, which proved extremely popular with the buyers during the event.
I am constantly surprised how the standard of the exhibitions and quality of trees continues to improve, and the U.K. Nationals was a prime example of this. Thank you to Tony Tickle, his wife and team for a tremendous weekend. As always, thank you to our fantastic customers, without your support the EBPC would not be possible.
The 'Trophy' bonsai exhibition this year, was a special 3 day event, to celebrate ...
Articles are written by Alex Rudd unless otherwise stated.