THE BONSAI CLASSES
By Angela Jones Tillman, Siler City, North Carolina

Chapter 6:  CONTINUING THE BONSAI JOURNEY!

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               I learned many things in creating the initial bonsai unit and David and I have set a goal to reduce costs, to include a front-end fund-raising project, and create a year-long art curriculum in which no grant funds will be needed.  A pottery unit will be added to create containers and to challenge the students to understand that bonsai is a complex discipline and that bonsai containers can be as varied as frames of paintings. 

                The first step will be to study the Fuku-Bonsai container  .  .  .  it's depth, width, and drainage holes in the base are all very important. Unlike the typical terra cotta flower pot, bonsai containers must meet various criteria.  My students will be required to create a pot. We'll begin by sketching pots that are functional and pleasing to the eye, but which does not compete with the bonsai.

                Some students will form the shallow container with potter wheels and I'll assist and guide them through the process of shaping, pulling up the outer walls, etc. We'll remove from the wheel and allow it to dry to leather hard stage.  Three drainage holes approximately 1/2" across are to be included in the bottom. Clay feet will stabilize and lift the pot to allow air circulation. Other students may be creating containers by pinch, coil, or slab building. Left to air dry for a week or two, the pieces will then be fired and glazed.

                We'll then be ready for transplanting, but unlike the first unit, we'll try to obtain locally available potting media or obtain from nearby at lower cost. Mosses and rocks from our nature trail will add extra interest to the compositions we create. The final aspects of our bonsai unit is to explore creating bonsai from our own area in North Carolina. Hopefully, this will demonstrate to the students that bonsai is all around them if they simply physically and mentally explore their surroundings.

                I have personally discovered a truly beautiful artform, one which I see continuing to grow throughout the years. My students have been supportive and enthusiastic from beginning to end. That's not always an easy task when dealing with students who do not consider themselves " artistic".  Bonsai reaches across so many different levels of seeing, creating, and emotion that it touches everyone on some level or another and as a result it has enriched my Art program and my life! Thank you David and Fuku-Bonsai!

                                                                    Most sincerely,  Angela

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        David Fukumoto with a "Commemorative Photo Panel" sent by Angela Tillman.  It includes the signatures of all of the students who participated in the first bonsai course and will be proudly exhibited at the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center.

        At left are components of the Premium Keiki Bonsai Workshop Package with a finished workshop plant on the right.

       In the future,  pots and potting media will be available and shipped directly in bulk.   Only the booklets and plants will be sent from Fuku-Bonsai at large savings.  New prepared bonsai stock will provide a larger variety of styling within a workshop class.

     Although it is more difficult to put together a high-success workshop package, Fuku-Bonsai is committed to doing so because it gives the workshop participant the opportunity to create a bonsai!   One day EVERYONE will be able to easily learn and experience bonsai!

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS
BY DAVID FUKUMOTO

       First, I want to thank Angela and her students of Silk Hope School, Siler City, North Carolina for their participation and enthusiasm throughout our first bonsai unit.  We learned a lot too and Angela and I have come up with with more and more ideas for an improved year-long art curriculum. 

        Second, as part of what we learned, Fuku-Bonsai will be introducing a new "LIVING LOVABLES™ WORKSHOP" and other workshops including a Teachers Manual. It will include rooting cuttings, making bonsai containers, and workshop plants in several styles and sizes. 

        Third, we're working to make available a Fuku-Bonsai True Indoor Bonsai Soil as a 3-part potting mix.  This is significant as the cost to ship within the Continental US via UPS Ground is much lower than shipping it by Federal Express Air from Hawaii.       

         And fourth, I have the pleasure of announcing that Angela is expecting her second child, a son, in February!  Congratulations Angela and mahalo for the great report and initial bonsai course!  With your continuing assistance, and with the Fuku-Bonsai Study Group, we'll make bonsai available to everyone! I look forward to working with every interested individual and teacher in the years to come! 

  ~~~David W. Fukumoto
        President & founder, Fuku-Bonsai Inc.
                 Email:   david@fukubonsai.com

Fuku-Bonsai Inc. & Angela Jones Tillman, 2002      All rights reserved

*** Return to the start of this Angela Tillman series              November 2002
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