History of Shimpaku instant bonsai

Tachigi

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Our concept with this demo and with Dale is to get him to stop in for the next three years on his way to the convention and have him work on the tree again and again.
Good concept Graydon, by doing this Dale can aggressively go after the tree with the knowledge that he will be back on the same tree to follow up. This with out pushing the tree to the brink as can be done at times. Who will be the lucky person to do aftercare and be its custodian? That to me would be a large factor in this. If its done wrong then a lynching might be the the topic of the next demo ;).

Next year Shady Side is doing something similar. With the learning center completed we will be hosting a few of the larger names. Each doing a one tree demo over a succession of sessions. The subject tree will be left out for viewing in between these demos. This giving the participants an opportunity to come back at their leisure an observe the progression and comment on aftercare. Also by having it on display it gives a good advertisement for the artist and his ability for people possibly wanting to get instructed by said artist in the future.

I think this is different than a workshop. It focuses on one subject and the artist (DALE) is able to concentrate and teach. Workshops are good and fill a niche when it comes to a personal tree. The difference here is that with the artist bouncing around in a workshop. No matter how good you are, it is almost impossible to switch gears from one tree to the next, with 6 to 10 trees in the mix and give 100% total attention and focus. One is an educational venue and one is an assist venue with assumption that you have some basic to advanced knowledge of what is going on.
 
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Well, this all sounds good in theory, but the reality is that the majority of people who pay for workshops and or demos want to see results of some sort then and there. Wait three years? Wait six years? Not likely, most of the participants will not be returning, except, as stated, a very few hardcore bonsaiheads.

That is where books/magazines/websites come in, they can publish the progressions, they can turn ten years worth of work into a hours worth of entertaining, educational, and inspirational reading and while doing so, create a reference for all to refer back to in the process.

Let's face it, there is already successful venues for long term progressions, venues that do not require vast amounts of time between seeing one result turn into another and workshops or demos are not included. What real good education can come to a person by going to a class once a year? What will be retained or even remembered from the year before?

The workshop or demo must be entertaining, educational, and inspiring. The good teacher will know how far to take the styling to assure life, while showing what is to come in the future. Those who can not do this, those who do not know the difference, have no business doing demos or workshops.


Will
 

Tachigi

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but the reality is that the majority of people who pay for workshops and or demos want to see results of some sort then and there. Wait three years? Wait six years? Not likely, most of the participants will not be returning, except, as stated, a very few hardcore bonsaiheads
Hi Will,
Your statement of instant gratification is very true. Most are like small children that want to it NOW However those people will also never amount to much, in my opinion, when it comes to creating bonsai. It goes against every principle that makes up this art. Those that due return, and I don't think you give enough credit to the numbers that do, learn and create spectacular bonsai. Those that don't are like the chaff being separated from the wheat. A bi-product that has no use.

That is where books/magazines/websites come in, they can publish the progressions, they can turn ten years worth of work into a hours worth of entertaining, educational, and inspirational reading and while doing so, create a reference for all to refer back to in the process.
I agree books/magazines/websites are all a intricate part of self education. While taking a project and boiling it down into a ten to twenty minute read is a great thing, what is often missed is the subtleties and nuances of working a tree. Something none of these venues can accommodate due to, if nothing else, page space. Time lines also can be out of context and often misconstrued by a new person to the hobby.
What real good education can come to a person by going to a class once a year? What will be retained or even remembered from the year before?
Hope Walter doesn't read this ;) I have to disagree, I have gone to many one night stands with several different artists and remembered what I needed to from that session. I have as well gone to a single concert only once and can remember almost every minute of that concert. Even the cute girl with the big ..... If someone is truly engrossed in a subject/happening its amazing what can be retained. It is all an individual thing, so to say that its not worth while is really not a fair statement.
 
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All good and valid points Tom.

We must consider that for a lot of the people who do demos and workshops, well for a lot of the bigger, more in demand names anyhow, this is a business, and I am sure you will admit as a business owner, that a balance must be found in the "product" sold.

The "perfect demo" that lasts for three or more years has been discussed here. Let's say you gave one this year and it was filled with 30 people who paid to see it. Some would be disappointed that so little was done and would not be back next year, some would move, lose interest, or otherwise not return the following year, some would just plain forget about it and do something else with the bonsai budget. So the following year you have maybe 20 people attending (generous I think) and the third year, maybe ten....as the numbers go down, so does the clubs profits and the bonsaists as well.....it is likely the demo run will never be continued.

The balance that needs to be found is one that entertains, makes people go WOW, and yet still instills knowledge that is worth the price charged. People like getting their moneys worth and the bonsaists that do these demos like to be paid. I have William Valavanis coming to our club show this July, he gets paid for what he does and his travel expenses get reimbursed, this is common with all such artists with experience. As the Club Show Chairperson, I have to assure that the workshops and events planned are appealing to all levels of experience and that the prices charged for the workshop are reasonable. I also have to assure that the subject matter of the demos and workshops are appealing enough for people to want to pay to participate. If I fail, Bill's bill will not be covered by what we bring in and if I succeed, the club makes a small profit. I personally can't imagine advertising a demo that will continue over the course of the next five years....it is missing the "WOW" factor.

Now if this was a study group, the possibility is appealing, but study groups make up a very small percentage of a profession bonsaists income, it is the major shows, events, and clubs that pay the bills.

So I agree, the concept is sound, I personally would sign up for such a demo, but financially, it just isn't feasible in my eyes.

Sorry for getting off topic, or are we? Great discussion!


Will
 

Vance Wood

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To put it as short and blunt as possible a demo is an exercise in doing something with nothing. It not only shows what can be done, it stimulates interest is re-evaluating raw material and learning how to see possibilities. If for no other reason this validates them. No one wants to come and hear the unfinished symphony----unfinished--- when it comes to a screeching halt in the middle of some lost theme, cadence, or a variation un-varied. They want and deserve to see something resembling something of potential beauty out of an ugly piece of stock.

This more than anything can inspire them to try what they may have been afraid to try. We hear a lot about patience which is of course a vital aspect of cultivating bonsai. We seldom hear about courage which is as much a tool of bonsai culture as any other thing, non mechanical, you can come up with. Without courage patience turns into procrastination and procrastination turns into failure. Of course courage can turn into fool heartiness, if carried too far, and that too can lead to destruction. The problem is determining when one takes up as the other is left off. However without taking chances no one learns anything but the art of doing nothing. If we decide that doing nothing is best then maybe it is better we not start at all, other-wise we just have a display of unfinished, unbegun, unlovely--- unbonsai.

Workshops are an entirely different issue with a different set of rules and parameters. I did a workshop with a bunch of Mugo Pines earlier this spring. We simply took the trees down to the basic elements of a bonsai structure and left the roots alone. The participants were for the most part amazed at how good the trunks were once I showed them how to examine a piece of raw stock for this element. We worked up from there, using the trunk as a guide for the future design. To put a bit of a point on the issue. If I had done what we did with these trees myself, kept them for two years I could have sold them easily for thee times the money simply because they now looked that they were going to be excellent bonsai. I fully expect that most of these trees will survive and prosper. I hope to see many of them next spring.

Much of what a teacher can do that is of real value is teaching a student how to see. I keep going back to Mugo Pines mostly because they at the epitome of this problem. You can go to a nursery and see row after row of Mugo Pines all squatting there in tidy lines seemingly all the same. So very few people take the time to go through every tree and get their hands dirty feeling for a trunk. But within those rows there are treasures waiting to be found. It is sad that so much really good bonsai potential will wind up hidden in some ubiquitous urban landscape because some bonsai grower thinks this is a wast of time to use this kind of material.
 
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We had Marc Noelanders for a workshop and demo last autumn. I must have had at least 20 "WOW-moments" those two days, and to be honest, the WOW when the tree was "finished" is the one I would miss the least.
 

Tachigi

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Sorry for getting off topic, or are we? Great discussion!
No, I don't think it is getting off topic, as this is all intertwined. The financial end off a demo/workshop maybe boring as watching paint dry or watching a demo on wiring:), but it is part of the game.


We must consider that for a lot of the people who do demos and workshops, well for a lot of the bigger, more in demand names anyhow, this is a business, and I am sure you will admit as a business owner, that a balance must be found in the "product" sold

The "perfect demo" that lasts for three or more years has been discussed here. Let's say you gave one this year and it was filled with 30 people who paid to see it. Some would be disappointed that so little was done and would not be back next year, some would move, lose interest, or otherwise not return the following year, some would just plain forget about it and do something else with the bonsai budget. So the following year you have maybe 20 people attending (generous I think) and the third year, maybe ten....as the numbers go down, so does the clubs profits and the bonsaists as well.....it is likely the demo run will never be continued.
Will, good points ....however :)
I think that your example with decreasing numbers can be compensated for. If one keeps in mind that in a multi year demo the focus changes from initial styling to ramification to nebari or what have you. These individual topics maybe of interest to some and not to others. It is to be expected that some people will cycle. You can fill the void if necessary with people that have an interest in that specific topic and artist. Besides filling a 10 to 12 seat demo (which is the norm) is not really a hard thing to do. I have seen this happen on several occasions and be successful, always a full house. I understand your interpretation of the WOW factor. My experience with this is it only applies to the newly initiated. Most of us older participants really don't need the WOW factor. Because most of us at the end are mentally critiquing and visualizing what we would have done differently :)

I'm not saying its an easy thing to do ( nothing is that is worth doing), what I am saying is that it is doable. It is also a more comprehensive way to learn than just a one night stand, and financially more economical than doing classes or one on ones. I for one, hope it becomes a new trend. Everyone wins the artist, the student, and most of all the tree.
 
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Tachigi

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To put it as short and blunt as possible a demo is an exercise in doing something with nothing. It not only shows what can be done, it stimulates interest is re-evaluating raw material and learning how to see possibilities. If for no other reason this validates them. No one wants to come and hear the unfinished symphony----unfinished--- when it comes to a screeching halt in the middle of some lost theme, cadence, or a variation un-varied. They want and deserve to see something resembling something of potential beauty out of an ugly piece of stock.
In all fairness Vance, not all Demos are an exercise in doing something with nothing. A testament to this would be recent discussions on material being offered to headliners for demos. The trees were definitely something before being transformed. I remember a time when I saw a beautiful 60 year old JBP that I thought was prutty darn good transformed to an outstanding image. I as well remember a time when I would sit a watch a guy take some nursery stock slap it around and come up with a bonsai like image, and you are right it did inspire me. I sometimes miss those days:)

In the multi year demo theme I don't see it as a break in cadence anymore than I see closing a book at the end of a chapter an interruption. If the artist is good(and a bit of a showman) he can bring the demo to a crescendo and the audience is satisfied and not left feeling empty handed because the premise was set before the demo started. They look forward to more. This is nothing new, we have been trained that way by the TV networks every time a season finale comes. We all can't wait for next season for what happened to JR
 
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I think that your example with decreasing numbers can be compensated for. If one keeps in mind that in a multi year demo the focus changes from initial styling to ramification to nebari or what have you. These individual topics maybe of interest to some and not to others. It is to be expected that some people will cycle. You can fill the void if necessary with people that have an interest in that specific topic and artist.
Ah yes, each demo would be a slightly different subject...they could be advertised as such and yet still be a continuation of the whole...

Amazing what good old fashion discussion and polite debate can accomplish, isn't it?

Clarification....You said that a 10-12 seat demo is the norm? Did you mean workshop? Workshops are usually limited to 10 - 15 participants because the instructor can only give hands on help to so many people, while demos usually can go as high as 30 observers or more because the instructor is only working in the tree in front of them.

Will
 

Graydon

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This is not about entertainment people. I do entertainment for a living, have all of my life. A nationally broadcast show or a movie is entertainment. We have a saying in the biz that goes something like this :

Theatre is life
Film is art
Television is furniture.

Bonsai is about the tree, at least when I have any say in the organization or events. So if you want or need to be entertained go see a play, or a movie or turn on the furniture. If you can't remember something from a year ago, something you care deeply about, something your life revolves around I would suggest you take some photos and perhaps some notes so you can review them in the future. Or go see a doctor for the memory issues soon.

To be very specific this event (the three year plan) is not a workshop. It's a private club meeting where we are footing the bill for the tree and the artist's expenses from club funds. We are not charging anyone anything, it's being paid from club dues and other proceeds. We are a non profit organization and that means spend the money, hopefully on something that is educational and not entertaining to a fault. It's private for members as we want the benefit from the event based on the dues we have paid. We have invited select non members as we saw fit, but they have interest and asked to come and we would like to see them consider joining to come to more in the future.

I can assure you that all of the more experienced members will be anxious for the return visits and seeing the tree progress. Quite frankly I don't care if the newer members get it or not. If they have the desire, if they have the will to progress in bonsai, to grow and learn then they will. If they don't then thanks for the dues. I am leading the horses to the water and I hope they drink. But I won't make them, I can't. If three people show up at the meeting next year for the return of Dale and the progress of the tree that too would be fine.

Sure wish I had an opportunity like this years ago.
 
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I have never been accused of not taking bonsai seriously, I have been accused of everything else though. ;)




Will
 

Tachigi

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Clarification....You said that a 10-12 seat demo is the norm? Did you mean workshop? Workshops are usually limited to 10 - 15 participants because the instructor can only give hands on help to so many people, while demos usually can go as high as 30 observers or more because the instructor is only working in the tree in front of them.
Yes, been to a few of those sitting in the back wishing I had brought binoculars. While the demonstrator pointed to advantageous buds as he described which ones to keep when pruning:). Around this parts of the woods we have learned that while it may take a few extra dollars to support the demo. It is a better experience with no more than twelve except for demos done in the round where 20 would be the max. This makes for a more personalized experience, more up close observations, and a better flow of discussion.
 

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