Teach me about pots

GailC

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I need to learn about pots. Not quality or makers but color and shape, what pairs with what trees and why.
I know conifers usually go in unglazed pots and you wouldn't want matching colors like a orange blossom quince in a orange or coral pot.

Besides that, what are the generally accepted rules of plant/pot pairing?

I occasionally pick up cheap used pots and really have no idea what to do with them, especially the square blue ones everyone seems to hate. I also have two ovals, one brown, one black.
 

Adair M

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This is very open ended!

Powerful, strong trees look best in strong, powerful pots. More delicate trees (feminine) look better in softer less massive pots.

A given tree might look good in several pots, and it can be fun to change the pot for no other reason than to “have something different” on the bench for a while.

There’s nothing “wrong” with blue pots, by the way. Except that many cheap “mallsai” are sold in them. Why? Well, it’s because they look good! Lol!!! Makes them easy to sell.

But used appropriately, a blue pot can really make a bonsai stand out. Here’s an example:

image.jpg
 

GailC

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Thanks @Adair M i do really like that persimmon, what color are the blooms?
I can see where the blue.and orange look nice together.

I do have a bit of trouble seeing masculine vs feminine, same with trees. Maybe all mine are gender neutral lol.
 

sorce

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Well Bloody Hell!

Haven't been able to get here for about 3 attempts in the last couple years...I reckon.


That's a "pot choice" page, that I had to click a tab to convert to English.

The whole site, if up and running,is exceptional.

Sorce
 

shinmai

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By far, the best analysis of the aesthetics of the pot and the tree is in David de Groot's book, Principles of Bonsai Design. He addresses size, shape, texture, glazed versus unglazed, what color of glaze for what type of tree, even into details like how the shape of the corners or the feet affect the feel of the pot. There is also a great section on where to plant the tree in the pot, to emphasize motion in the trunk and to balance the visual mass of the tree with the pot.
Actually, the book is a first-class resource on every aspect of design. If you can't get it from your local library system, Stone Lantern has it for 35 dollars, worth every penny.
 

Atom#28

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In addition to OP question, I still have questions about pot size / ratio in relation to tree size. I know there's no cut and dry answer, but general guidelines would be helpful. For example, what is the "proper" depth pot for a tree with a 3" trunk?

EDIT: @shinmai's answer addressed my question before I posted. Thank you
 

Brian Van Fleet

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shinmai

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Wow, that's a great thread.
 

shinmai

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Going back to Mr. de Groot's books for a moment: there are actually two versions. The first is a spiral bound book called 'Basic Bonsai Design' which as I understand it was the compilation of a number of articles he had written for a club newsletter, and I think was initially self-published. Eventually it led to the much more expansive 'Principles of Bonsai Design', in hardcover. I got the first one, and got so much out of it that I went searching for the expanded version. Both should be in every nut's bookshelf.
The American Bonsai Society bookstore has plenty of both in stock, at $15.95 for the spiral-bound and $31.95 for the hardcover, less a 10% discount for ABS members.
 

Forsoothe!

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Well Bloody Hell!

Haven't been able to get here for about 3 attempts in the last couple years...I reckon.


That's a "pot choice" page, that I had to click a tab to convert to English.

The whole site, if up and running,is exceptional.

Sorce
190 Euro for a 6" pot. Strictly snob appeal.
 

GailC

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Thanks everyone. I just read through the pot thread, very informative. I have come to the conclusion that I just don't get it.

I see what people mean by masculine/feminine but feeling something when I look at a pot is beyond me. I see either pretty or ugly but no emotions.

Its the same when I look at a tree, I see either a visually appealing plant or a ugly one. No feeling of emotion, no what is the tree saying or conveying.

I'll just stick my trees in whatever pot will accommodate them best or that I think are pretty together.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Thanks everyone. I just read through the pot thread, very informative. I have come to the conclusion that I just don't get it.

I see what people mean by masculine/feminine but feeling something when I look at a pot is beyond me. I see either pretty or ugly but no emotions.

Its the same when I look at a tree, I see either a visually appealing plant or a ugly one. No feeling of emotion, no what is the tree saying or conveying.

I'll just stick my trees in whatever pot will accommodate them best or that I think are pretty together.
You aren’t going to “get it” in a day reading one post on a forum. If you really want to get it, you’ll need to study, look at great combos and bad ones, start to see trends, start to picture how you’d pair pots and trees. Test different trees in different pots and develop your eye a bit, then test it against others’ eye. It takes years to really get it, especially if you’re trying to recognize certain potters by their clays, shapes, styles, etc. Like anything, you’ll get out of it what you’re willing to put in. I bounced my quince around in 10 pots today considering the look I was going for. I’m sure not all people will agree with my choice. That’s fine, as long as I like it and people whose opinions I value also appreciate it. BTW, I also don’t get emotional responses to pairings. I’m looking for complimentary or contrasting shapes, sizes, colors, masculine or feminine, subtle or bold. Good pairings.
 

Forsoothe!

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Thanks everyone. I just read through the pot thread, very informative. I have come to the conclusion that I just don't get it.

I see what people mean by masculine/feminine but feeling something when I look at a pot is beyond me. I see either pretty or ugly but no emotions.

Its the same when I look at a tree, I see either a visually appealing plant or a ugly one. No feeling of emotion, no what is the tree saying or conveying.

I'll just stick my trees in whatever pot will accommodate them best or that I think are pretty together.
You should probably keep a low profile when il cognoscenti discuss this topic. I'm comfortable in my own skin as an outcast unable to emote in pot viewings and dissertations, and not only have blue pots, but too many to count blue-on-white pots which are verboten. You will be told that, "When you know as much as I, who have studied with the best of the best, know, you will come to understand that the pot should never be worth a second look. It should never compete with the tree. It should be expensive, but featureless." I think that means their trees can't stand the competition, but what do I know?
 

TN_Jim

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Thanks everyone. I just read through the pot thread, very informative. I have come to the conclusion that I just don't get it.

I see what people mean by masculine/feminine but feeling something when I look at a pot is beyond me. I see either pretty or ugly but no emotions.

Its the same when I look at a tree, I see either a visually appealing plant or a ugly one. No feeling of emotion, no what is the tree saying or conveying.

I'll just stick my trees in whatever pot will accommodate them best or that I think are pretty together.
It takes a lot for me to feel an emotion or a feeling from a pot or tree or the two put together. For me the words, feel and emotion, are subjective and perhaps often overused or maybe abused. You said what you, “think.” I feel that think itself is often accurately replaced by the attempt to convey emotion or feeling...so to your thoughts, I think there’s a lot of plain logic going into pot decisions
 

rockm

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You should probably keep a low profile when il cognoscenti discuss this topic. I'm comfortable in my own skin as an outcast unable to emote in pot viewings and dissertations, and not only have blue pots, but too many to count blue-on-white pots which are verboten. You will be told that, "When you know as much as I, who have studied with the best of the best, know, you will come to understand that the pot should never be worth a second look. It should never compete with the tree. It should be expensive, but featureless." I think that means their trees can't stand the competition, but what do I know?
what a bunch of BS. you can put whatever tree you like in whatever pot you like.

However, like the design of the tree, there are some pot/tree combinations that are vastly better than others.

A Pot doesn't have to be expensive, doesn't have to be any color other than blue, doesn't have to be featureless, doesn't have to be anything you don't like. You don't have to "study" with the best to choose.

HOWEVER, when you ask for advice on an advice forum on how to use a pot to "go" with a tree, that kind of hairbrained "anything goes" advice doesn't really get you very far, now does it?

Trying to get your head around WHY pots work with trees is a lot more productive than useless "they're persecuting me" advice...

I'm "comfortable in my own skin" too. I like bonsai pots as much as l like trees. I have more pots that trees (and yeah, a lot of them are expensive and most are not being used. Nothing to be ashamed of.

Understanding what works with what tree doesn't come fast. It's not really something that can be taught. It boils down to taste--some folks dress better than others (I dress like a bum, ,BTW). Gaining the knowledge is NOT about knowing which pots fits. It's about understanding WHY it fits and the ideas behind WHY it fits...To learn this, you don't read about pots, you read about other stuff that is behind the art. Modern bonsai is tied heavily to the esthetics of the Japanese tea ceremony-I know, sounds pretentious, but if you're dismissive of this kind of thing, you're shutting yourself off from a pretty fascinating part of what you're doing.

 
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Brian Van Fleet

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190 Euro for a 6" pot. Strictly snob appeal.
At a certain point, collecting pots by recognized master potters becomes its own “hobby”. Nothing at all wrong with it, people collect art of all kinds. Disparaging that is like telling someone who bought a Monet he is a snob for not putting a Terry Redlin print on that wall instead.

These are not utilitarian pots, but I didn’t buy them hoping I could plant them and leave them outside all year long. It is a small collection of unique pots by a recognized master. Snob appeal? Only if you know what you’re looking at.😜
63F55BD3-F995-41B9-B433-99ECE4920237.jpeg
 

-norwegian_blue-

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At a certain point, collecting pots by recognized master potters becomes its own “hobby”. Nothing at all wrong with it, people collect art of all kinds. Disparaging that is like telling someone who bought a Monet he is a snob for not putting a Terry Redlin print on that wall instead.

These are not utilitarian pots, but I didn’t buy them hoping I could plant them and leave them outside all year long. It is a small collection of unique pots by a recognized master. Snob appeal? Only if you know what you’re looking at.😜

Couldn't agree more. There are a lot of us pot snobs out there... ;)
 

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