Bonsai Pots - Explain

dbonsaiw

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I assume there is more to choosing a bonsai pot than aesthetics alone? Other than getting the right look to match one's bonsai (as well as correct size), what are we looking for in bonsai pots? Functionally, what if anything differentiates the XYZ named special bonsai pot from a similarly sized generic bonsai pot?

If I were to make my own pots, I would probably want to design a pot that has a sort of semi-circle hump inside so that the water could simply run off and into drainage holes. I haven't seen anything like this. All the pots seem to generally be designed somewhat similarly, so I'm at a loss as to what to look for.
 

penumbra

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If I were to make my own pots, I would probably want to design a pot that has a sort of semi-circle hump inside so that the water could simply run off and into drainage holes. I haven't seen anything like this. All the pots seem to generally be designed somewhat similarly, so I'm at a loss as to what to look for.
Being a potter, the idea is unnecessary. Any halfway decent pot will not kill your plant. A bad planting mix will.
But you can always make your own pots. (you really can )Or you may find a hungry potter who will make a pot to your specs just to placate you. But there is a reason you cannot find any pots like this. ;)
 

dbonsaiw

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But you can always make your own pots.
I may very well get there one day, but for now I'm just trying to understand what from a functional standpoint differentiates one pot from another. Obviously, some will be better at their craft than others and produce nicer pots, but is it a more functional pot? Stated differently, am I paying for style and name or is there a quality component as well. If so, what are those qualities?
 

penumbra

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I may very well get there one day, but for now I'm just trying to understand what from a functional standpoint differentiates one pot from another. Obviously, some will be better at their craft than others and produce nicer pots, but is it a more functional pot? Stated differently, am I paying for style and name or is there a quality component as well. If so, what are those qualities?
You need to understand a pots function before you can create your own. As to the health of the tree, you can grow them in a tin can or an old shoe if the bonsai mix is appropriate.
I would recommend you look in the archives here first, and secondly, there are a lot of great bonsai books that would be very helpful. Your searching is a bit vague at this point and it would help if you narrow it down and separate the form and the function. Stick with it. 👍
 

dbonsaiw

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To be sure, I'm not planning on making any pots right now or ever for that matter. My trees are all in development and are planted in plastic containers or wooden boxes where they will be for many years. I know absolutely nothing about bonsai pots. I know that I like certain pots on the more developed trees I've seen here, and that certain pots I like less. I also realize that folks drop the names of pot makers - a fact that is totally meaningless to me at this point. My question boils down to what am I paying for in a pot - is it a color/style and name or is there something more?

For example, on another thread we were discussing rare woods and gunstocks. One could use a cheap piece of wood for the gunstock or 5A highly flamed walnut. The price difference is $25 and $700. The flamed walnut looks much nicer, but the function served is exactly the same. Other than being fancier, the walnut serves no additional purpose. A Ferrari and a VW, however, are not the same. They are functionally not equivalent and one will pay a high premium for the quality and performance, not just the looks of a Ferrari.

Back to the pots - If and when I ever produce a tree, I would want to splurge on a nice pot. But do I have to? Is there any benefit other than making it look nicer? If I could indeed plant it in a shoe, then the shoe and the expensive pot have no functional difference. That answer works. I'm down with the bling, just wanted to know if there was some science to pots in addition to bling.
 

ShadyStump

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He wants to know if he's buying the label or buying a better pot.
If he's buying a better pot, what makes it better? Is it the aesthetics, the durability, or the functionality?

I know just enough about pottery to know that just about anything is possible in their construction, but many things are not easy, and some things are not worth it. Therefore, there is a standard design of pot functionally speaking, and few exceptionally functional pots.
That leaves aesthetics and durability, and theoretically this is what you pay for when you buy a fancy hand made pot.
The only other thing you'd be buying is social status by having a name to drop, and I'm pretty much of the opinion that you can shove that right in your soil mix.
 

Shibui

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Quality bonsai pots are fired to high temps. Lower fired pots are porous and suck moisture out of the potting soil. Also absorb water an crack or shatter in cold weather.
Bonsai pots have feet to elevate the base of the pot above the bench for added drainage and stop roots blocking drain holes.
Glaze and finish can vary in quality from one pottery to another and from one pot to the next. Hard to eliminate all flaws when firing so check each pot individually if possible.

Some of the price of pots is quality, some is just name like in artwork.
 
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If you have a show worthy bonsai tree you want to show that tree in a nice pot and not in an old shoe or cheap plastic nursery container.
 

Bob Hunter

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Things to look for in a bonsai pot... Clay with less then 2% absorption, Plenty of drainage holes, wire tie down holes, Pots fired to vitrification. Now glazed or unglazed there are rules about which one to use with a tree but the choice is yours it's your tree...
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Read:


Deep subject, best to go do your own research and come back with specific questions.
 

sorce

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Why do I always think you're from Texas? Reckon it's a username similarity.

Some Japanese ovals are built in the manner you describe.

May I ask, what have you experienced or read that have brought upon these, seeming, water fears? And how much is that bearing on this discussion?

For me, what we should be looking for in a Bonsai Pot is Artistic Perfection of final display.

I reckon you'll find that faster in a shoe than in a mass produced blue fuckall (been watching Ramsey) with an attached driptray.

Even a non-frost-proof pot could be the one that brings artistic perfection.

The question then is what are we willing to do to achieve artistic perfection?

Truth truth....

Well Eff Ferrari cuz I found out you have to own 2 and pay like some 40K to be allowed to buy them.
I'd rather crash in a Jetta.

You can just as easily find an antique Chinese pot at a Garage sale for .50, as you can over pay for one from the latest "importer".

Buy a Name get a Dud.
Display a Dud and make a name for yourself.

....

If you read the entirety of the content of the second link BVF posted and still have questions, I'll buy you a Ferrari!

Sorce
 

rockm

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"I assume there is more to choosing a bonsai pot than aesthetics alone? Other than getting the right look to match one's bonsai (as well as correct size), what are we looking for in bonsai pots? Functionally, what if anything differentiates the XYZ named special bonsai pot from a similarly sized generic bonsai pot?"

This assumes that getting the right look and functionality are separate things. They're not. It's what good bonsai potters combine in their work. If you read the excellent thread her that Brian VF posted, you will get an inkling of some of the details involved in making good bonsai pots (as opposed to mass produced, mass market bonsai pots). Making a pot that threads all the esthetic needles that come with the territory--(i.e.--can't "shout" and overwhelm the tree, has to have some inherent details that echo the tree, etc.) has to be done with any eye to functionality--there has to be a way for water to drain effectively (which is facilitated by feet--which are also an important design element),a flat bottom with drain holes placed well, a way to tie the tree down, a pot that can withstand freezing and is durable to last decades are some of the more important practical features.

The name dropping thing isn't a thing. "Name" potters have learned all those things, as well as the esthetic component as well. It is that combination that makes them more exceptional than potters who haven't mastered the medium as well.
 

dbonsaiw

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Thanks to all. These were the answers I was looking for. I will definitely check out the articles BVF cited.

I look forward to the day I have a tree that warrants a nicer pot. When the day comes, I will splurge. I will, however, need a scientific explanation for the wife as to why this is non-negotiable.

Well Eff Ferrari cuz I found out you have to own 2 and pay like some 40K to be allowed to buy them.

I just learned about this rule as well. Insane. Still, I'd probably get one if the pocket allowed.
 

Pitoon

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For example, on another thread we were discussing rare woods and gunstocks. One could use a cheap piece of wood for the gunstock or 5A highly flamed walnut. The price difference is $25 and $700. The flamed walnut looks much nicer, but the function served is exactly the same. Other than being fancier, the walnut serves no additional purpose. A Ferrari and a VW, however, are not the same. They are functionally not equivalent and one will pay a high premium for the quality and performance, not just the looks of a Ferrari.
As a woodworker.....I can tell you not all wood is the same. Every species has it's pro's and con's. Different species have different characteristics....ie. density, porosity, grain type, decay resistance, hardness, color, flexibility, etc....

Yes, certain woods can add some flare to a project which is usually more for aesthetics.

But there is a real reason why a baseball bat is typically made with ash and not pine. I would say it is the same for a gunstock.
 

dbonsaiw

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If I could summarize by combining BVF, Shibui and Sorce - The bonsai pot obviously has various design elements and serves the bonsai in the same way a frame serves an oil painting. In this regard, one doesn't need a whole heck of a lot of experience to understand that the Kimiko pots are just stunning. That said, there are elements of quality and functionality, although even a cheap pot can basically have similar functionality. It appears that finding the more durable pots is an easy task. Properly pairing a pot to a tree is a whole other story that requires consideration of color, texture, lip, size, feet etc.
 

rockm

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If I could summarize by combining BVF, Shibui and Sorce - The bonsai pot obviously has various design elements and serves the bonsai in the same way a frame serves an oil painting. In this regard, one doesn't need a whole heck of a lot of experience to understand that the Kimiko pots are just stunning. That said, there are elements of quality and functionality, although even a cheap pot can basically have similar functionality. It appears that finding the more durable pots is an easy task. Properly pairing a pot to a tree is a whole other story that requires consideration of color, texture, lip, size, feet etc.
FWIW, it can be easy to get bogged down in the details. Matching a pot to a tree is mostly a matter of taste (and what you have or can afford). It's a lot like matching a tie with a suit (which is itself becoming a lost art these days). By and large rules of thumb that you can start with--rectangles tend to be masculine, ovals feminine. Subdued glazes are mostly better than loud bright ones and subtle shape and detail is always preferable to overstatement.
 

rockm

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Also FWIW, pots like the Kimikos you've cited are not really used by their owners all that much. The high end stuff is displayed...unless you need one for a show. Amashing a $500 mame pot will teach you stuff like that 😁
 

dbonsaiw

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pots like the Kimikos you've cited are not really used by their owners all that much.
I didn't even know about these until BVF introduced me to them. Good things as getting a dozen or so of these would set one back
 

rockm

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I didn't even know about these until BVF introduced me to them. Good things as getting a dozen or so of these would set one back
I think that article is only the tip of the iceberg on that site. I don't think he was directing you specifically to Kimiko. Look to the right on the page for additional posts on pots...
 

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