Article by Bonsai freak
The Japanese have developed a great interest in Shohin, resulting in the creation of a broad variety of pots. Pots in all price ranges are available from bonsai stores or the Internet.Japanese bonsai pots in their present form have been produced since the early Showa period (approx. 1920-1935). Tokoname, Yokkaichi, Seto, and Shigaraki are the most famous areas for pot production in Japan. Pots come in all different sizes and shapes. Sizes ranging from less than 5 cm/2 inches to approximately 25 cm/10 inches will work for most Mini, Mame, and Shohin-bonsai.
Unique potsA wonderful assortment of unique pots is now available, not only from Japan, but also from Europe and the US. In some Western countries, very high quality pots are appearing, based on both Japanese and local traditions. Over the years some very fine bonsai pots have found their trees, and are raising the high standards of Western bonsai, even though the tradition is still young compared to Asian countries.
VariationsThis variety of pots and potters makes it possible to be even more creative in the display of Shohin and Mame-bonsai. Avoid mixing styles that are clearly different in the same display, as this detracts from the beauty and harmony. The pots chosen must work well together and not disturb the view of the display, but blend in harmoniously.
What the pot does to the pictureA good tree needs to rest in a good pot. Just as a poor quality frame can decrease the value of a beautiful painting, so an ordinary or cheaply made pot will lower the quality of the tree.Keep in mind what the purpose of a pot is when choosing one for your tree. I have spent many hours studying trees at exhibitions, in magazines, etc., in order to learn the secrets of a pot’s visual and aesthetic effects. Even so, I still have doubts and second thoughts when searching for exactly the right pots for my trees, because so many aesthetic considerations make the choice difficult.A pot’s foremost visual function is to frame the tree and underline the feeling that the tree expresses. As the word bonsai, tree-in-pot, describes, the pot is fully part of the bonsai. The bonsai pot is not just a necessary container for roots and soil, but part of an artistic relationship with the tree it supports.
Rules of ThumbHere are some very general points to keep in mind when selecting pots for Shohin-bonsai:
Wide and shallow pots keep the attention more on the planting itself.
Tall pots with narrow openings are suitable for semi cascade-style plantings, which are often used as the Fukuboku in a traditional Shohin display.
As a rule of thumb, the pot should be about 50-75% of the width of the canopy. Remember that the volume of flowering specimens expands considerably when the flowers are fully developed. Therefore, the pot should be selected to fit the tree when exhibited with flowers.
Choose a pot with a depth that is approximately equal to the width of the base of the trunk.
The smaller the tree is, the less the rules need to be followed.
Always bear in mind that rules are for informational purposes only. Strict observance of rules is never required, but they are always good to keep in mind. The rules are, of course, more appropriate for exhibition purposes.
Completing the pictureA more artistic approach to the meaning of the container is the interpretation of the pot’s form. An oval container suggests that the tree is living in a flat field. This can be varied by sculpting the surface of the earth and the moss or accent plantings. If the rim of the pot is slightly bent outwards, it is saying that the tree is living in a wider open field. In contrast, a thicker round rim, that closes the pot straight upwards, will suggest surroundings that are more tranquil.Another effect of the pot form is the way the eye is led to a focal point on the bonsai. Lines that bend outwards lead the eye away from the middle of the tree and the trunk, so the focus is at the top or outward part of the tree, leading to the canopy. Straight pots that have edges without an outward pointing rim drag attention to the trunk and inner parts of the tree, and are useful for calling attention to dramatic deadwood on the trunk.
The smaller the pot’s foundation size, the less sturdy it is. A noticeable reduction of optical weight is achieved by using rounded and closed upper pot lines. Very open shapes accept more substance and become somewhat lighter with the closing. It is therefore better to place a bonsai with a light thin trunk in a pot that is inwardly rounded in shape.
The rim and legsThe pot is completed by the legs upon which it rests. Heavier trees require heavier pots and simple formed legs. A light and elegant bonsai allows for the opportunity of more complexly formed legs. Through the more or less sophisticated look, they may lighten the overall work composition, supporting the elegance of the tree. The exact judgment must be made by keeping artistic considerations and aesthetic considerations in mind, and feeling the image as part of the judgment.
With these basic tools in mind, it is possible to achieve harmony and peace between tree and pot, as well as helping the viewer to focus on the important part of the tree.
Resources used: http://www.bonsaiempire.com
About the Author
Bonsai enthusiast since 15 years
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