Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Burrs 2013

Last month I blogged my memories of Burrs Bonsai Workshop 2012 and wrote of my disappointment in being unable to attend again this year. Well, last weekend saw the return of Burrs and due to a last minute change in circumstance, I was there! Returning artists were Tony Tickle, Terry Foster, Pavel Slovák, Will Baddeley  and Hans Van Meer and for his first visit to the UK, Márcio Meruje.

Burrs is not just about bonsai, but also about people, friendship and fun. The beer was always flowing, and so too was the laughter. At what other bonsai event can you watch a range of musical performances and even fire juggling?!

Neil "Smithy" Smith fire breathing
Tony Tickle with beers brought by attendees from across Europe.
As well as all the partying, there was also some serious bonsai work. Participants brought a range of material with them from raw, unworked nursery trees to ancient yamadori, and each tree made great improvements on its journey towards a 'finished' bonsai.

Neil Smith and Terry Foster discuss Neil's Pine.

David Fairbanks and Rob Atkinson discuss a Pine

My material for the weekend was a Mugo Pine, collected from  the mountains of Europe by Pavel Slovák. Pavel kindly brought the tree to the UK for me and together we worked upon its first styling. I had my own ideas for how the tree could be styled, but tried not to think about it too much as I knew that Pavel would come up with a better design.

Pavel started work by creating the first Jin, then left me to make the other two jins. I then applied raffia to the single branch in preparation to wire it into a continuation of the trunk in our design. Pavel then wrapped the branch with electrical tape and bound with cable ties before wiring and bending.

Once the trunk was set in position I stripped the needles to ten to twelve pairs and wired each branch, all the way to the remaining needles. Pavel then tilted the tree to its final angle and positioned the branches. Pavel is well known for his Pine bending, but I am not aware of his techniques ever being shown on video, so I made a short film of his work.

The finished Mugo Pine
I am slowly working through the editing process of the many photos and video clips that I recorded over the weekend, so watch this space for more updates. Burrs must surely be the greatest bonsai workshop currently running anywhere in the UK and there is always something to be learned, whatever your level of experience and skill. I think that anybody involved in bonsai should make the effort to attend at least once. One thing is for sure... you are guaranteed to have fun!
The Burrs gang

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