How to prepare for first major demonstration?

leatherback

The Treedeemer
Messages
11,844
Reaction score
20,945
Location
Northern Germany
USDA Zone
7
Background: In 2019 I managed to bluff my way through the German Bonsai Price styling competition. and as a result, I was asked to do a demonstration at the next German national show. That was supposed to happen in 2020. But.. well. 2020 happened. And also 2021 saw the show cancelled. Now it is taking place in 2022. But this happens to coincide with the European show, EBA. The organization has now invited me to give 2 demos during that weekend. I obviously accepted, as it is a chance I might not get so easily again.

The question now is.. How does one prepare for one of there? I have one tree that I will bring, it is a yamadori pine from Sweden, which still sits at the place of purchase; They will bring it to the other side of Germany, as my car is on the small side. For the second demo, they have a yamadori taxus cuspidata, Japan import. This tree I have received a few pictures, but have not seen in person. It is currently near the show location, about 7 hour drive away. So not an easy, lets pop over to have a look at it.

For all of you who do demonstrations to groups of people.. How should one prepare for these demonstrations? I understand I might bring someone with me to help on stage. On the other hand, that means relying on the skills of another person in e.g., wiring to get a decent result.

What should I do. Should I clean up the pine beforehand? Removing old needles? Or is the "wow effect" bigger when you start with a big mass of needles? Should I take a trip this summer to prepare the taxus, reducing branches, get backbudding and dense masses of foliage next year?

So yeah.. How would you handle the prep for this? And maybe as a nugget on top: What makes a good demonstration. What to do, and what not?

Needless to say, this will be my first demonstration on a major show.
 

Shibui

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,088
Reaction score
9,668
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
Endless wiring is so boring for an audience to watch. That's usually the reason for having an assistant - tedious time consuming tasks can be halved with 2 working or you can let the assistant work while you continue talking about other aspects of care or design. You would obviously select someone you know and/or trust can do the tasks required.

What to do will depend on the time allocated and the work to be done. Removing old needles is part of the process but takes up time. Getting the job completed is the priority. If spending time removing old needles means you don't get finished or have to cut corners elsewhere I'd be doing it beforehand. Need to allow for time to answer questions and other in your timeline. Better to finish early than not complete the job.
Some mundane, time consuming tasks can be partly completed beforehand - remove most of the old needles but leave a small section for the demo, have main branches pre-wired to save time, etc, etc. So much depends on the scale and state of the tree and what you intend to do to it.

Personally I would not be driving a long way just to check a demo tree. Trust your skills and talent that you can formulate a plan in the time before the demo. You will have time to check on the tree before starting. Have a look at it whenever possible after arriving or earlier in the day of the demo.
Remember that it is not an exam. There is not just one correct answer you must find. Whatever outcome you do end up with is the correct one for that tree on that day.
 

leatherback

The Treedeemer
Messages
11,844
Reaction score
20,945
Location
Northern Germany
USDA Zone
7
Remember that it is not an exam. There is not just one correct answer you must find. Whatever outcome you do end up with is the correct one for that tree on that day.
Thx. That really helps the slight concern I have with the situation.
Having wired and styled hundreds of trees and still.. Concerned people in the audience will go.. WHY!?
:oops:
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
31,835
Reaction score
43,725
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
You might have to practice on a canoe!?

Practice in front of a mirror.

I don't think what you say is as important as saying it so that everyone can hear you. If you're "wrong" people will know your opinion, if they can't hear you, they will just think you're an ass!

I'd come up with a good written "process" of going over a tree for the first time like you will with the yew, and demo that thought process.

"Any monkey in a canoe can wire, but getting to that point in thought is the hard part".

Sorce
 

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
Messages
10,884
Reaction score
22,329
Location
Charlotte area, North Carolina
USDA Zone
8a
(1) Know your audience! I have done demos before for beginners, and they are completely different from what I would do for an experienced crowd. I even have print materials developed for beginner groups (garden clubs, etc). Since you will be demoing for an experienced audience, think about what they would want to see. This is actually pretty easy, since you fit your audience. What would you want to see at a demo in that setting? Would you want to watch someone clean out old needles for 10 minutes? Or would you get more value from that 10 minutes being spent in refinement wiring? Explain to people if you did prep work - "I removed all the old needles and dead inner branches for 15 minutes so you wouldn't have to watch me do it now" with the understanding that they will know what you are talking about. With a beginner group it might be important to leave those dead needles there for the demo :)

(2) Know your tree! Make sure you know everything about the species, the care, and the calendar. What is it similar to? Different from? When you are working the tree there will be gaps as you work, and it is easy to use tree care info to fill those gaps. If you take questions from the audience, they will often be about species care, so make sure you are prepared. Photos of the tree are a start, but if possible, see if you can get someone to send you a short video of the tree on a turntable - just slowly rotating. It will help you prepare for (3). Think about the pros and the cons of the tree as you look at it - and talk about your design choices prior to making them - so that people understand the mental process and outcomes.

(3) Have a plan. Usually you are given a time window in which to complete your work. You may not complete the tree - but make sure you complete all the work you want to complete. Start with the most important structural work, and work towards the finer detailed work. However make sure you demo at least some detailed work on part of the tree (if you don't have time to complete the tree). A lot depends on how big of a task you have before you. For example a tree that requires raffia work, big splits, big bends, etc, will require more time than a tree that just needs pruning and wiring. Make sure people understand what you are doing and why... and make sure you end your demo by talking about next steps in design/refinement and where you will go in care.

(4) Print out an outline and have it on the table as you work. It is easy to get confused or lose your train of thought while you are styling a tree, taking questions, and trying to cover various subjects. Having an outline helps you stay organized and gives you some mental confidence - even if you find you don't really need to refer to it. It makes you look like a pro :) Don't make the mistake of trying to "wing it". Prep and organization are key.

Good luck!
 
Last edited:

Shibui

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,088
Reaction score
9,668
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
Having wired and styled hundreds of trees and still.. Concerned people in the audience will go.. WHY!?
There will always be some that think they could have done it better. They are the ones who believe there is only one possible outcome for each tree. There is no one right result. If someone thinks their choices are better then that's fine but the choices you made on that day are legitimate and correct for that tree at that time and your personal preferences.
I do like to hear a demonstrator talk about the possible options they can see and why they have chosen to follow one particular route in that demo. You may even like to discuss that there are usually a number of possible legitimate outcomes and it does not matter which is followed. Whatever choice is made is correct.
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom