Boggs pot June 15, 2003.jpg (29352 bytes)          Richard "Sonny" Boggs of Autumn Moon Studios (5949 Puritan Lane, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27103;  Phone 336-712-1371) is a potter.  He claims he's still starting out and has a lot to learn.  But I was very pleased when I saw his work. Richard contacted Fuku-Bonsai in May of 2003 and in email correspondence we learned a little about each other. I enjoyed seeing his pots, selected a design, and asked him to consider throwing the largest that he could handle. 

         In June 2003 I received an email photo of a pot 19" across x 3 1/2" high that was still not fired.  We discussed glazes and I selected one called "Kona Blue."

Boggs Pot July 30, 2003.jpg (13809 bytes)         On July 30, 2003, I received a second email photo with Richard's note that "the glazed pot fired a matt bluish gray with lots of character. The rim warped slightly but the feet remained true and it does not wobble at all."

         I asked Richard to have a photo taken of him with the pot, to pack it, send it over, and to please write a blurb. Richard did a great job of packing it first within one carton, then with additional cushioning inside a second carton.  It arrived in perfect condition! Here's Richard and what he wrote:

Boggs, Richard Sonny with pot Aug03.jpg (37685 bytes)            "Starting out with twenty pounds of clay I used Korean pottery techniques. First, I pounded out the clay with my fist,  pulled up a thick wall, and added clay coils until I reached the desired height. I added a thick flat coil for the rim. This primitive method of making pottery is thousands of years old and still works well today.

          The feet were made by hand carving a reverse image stamp, attaching cut coil feet then stamping. The glaze is call Kona Blue and normally is blue. The matted grayish blue is a result of air coming into the vent during cooling. It is the only piece to ever come out this color.

           Clay has a memory and comes back to the original shape of coil around the rim during firing. This causes a slight warpage which I feel adds character to the piece."

                CONGRATULATIONS RICHARD!  It's a great pot that has an elegance that exceeded my expectations.   While we were discussing it,  I had a tree in mind. But when it arrived, the beautiful glaze was a such a wonderful compliment to the color of Dwarf Schefflera trunk and leaves that I selected a special tree for it.

                Many years ago, I enjoyed pottery, too. I especially admired the work of Japanese potter Akiji Kataoka who pioneered the modern Japanese molded bonsai pot and who is one of six honored in Fuku-Bonsai's International Honor Roll.  The Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center collection includes probably the largest variety of pots produced by the Kataoka family whose pots are sold under the Yamaaki kiln label and who are the pioneering family that made the Tokoname village the most respected Japanese bonsai pottery region.  Our collection includes hand-made items and pots that they created especially for us for the 1990 International Bonsai Congress in Hawaii and to celebrate the opening of the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center.

               Some of my early slip-casted pots made from molds casted from original carved plaster models are in the artifact collection of the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation.  The collection includes hand-thrown ceramic pots in which I've collaborated with potters. It also includes re-carved Mica pots, fiberglass, cement slabs, and natural rock slabs.  We also designed the plastic Fuku-Bonsai pots used in our products.  So, although I've never had time to focus on pottery, I've come to know a bit about it and am especially happy to encourage and assist potters. 

                Richard prices his pots attractively and I recommend those interested to contact him directly.   We'll be sending Richard comparable value in plants in trade and invite other interested potters to contact us as we would like to continue to increase the variety of bonsai containers in the collection.  MAHALO, RICHARD, AND ALL BEST WISHES!   ~~~David



                Generally, larger bonsai pots are either rectangular or oval and the general aesthetic guidelines are that the depth of the pot is about the thickness of the trunk base. For a round pot, I generally prefer to have trees with stout trunks to be about as tall as the pot is wide and these are the general proportions that are used in our items 8LS and Custom Collection #17 and #25 sizes. 

                But for Richard's pot there was a nice elegance and visual stability that would balance a taller tree with a lot of delicate active movement. It was the ideal pot for an exciting new bonsai design that I'd been working on for the past several years.

                This tree was actually just a long single aerial root that had been cut off and planted.    The long root had originally been supported by a single stick, the root wrapped with spaghnum moss (with some media), then wrapped with aluminum foil, and the entire assembly placed in a 3-gallon nursery pot.  A portion of a branch remained and had been bent down,  creating a loop.

                After a year, I noticed that additional aerial roots were emerging, the branch bent down further and the new aerial roots blended with the "trunk-root-loop." The original aluminum foil was removed, several other supporting sticks added, aluminum foil walls created, and more media added.  This adjusted plant was allowed to grow for another few years.   It seemed ready for further training when Richard's pot arrived.  The styling and potting was done on Saturday,  August 30, 2003.

Root-Loop in Bogg Pot 1 Sep03.jpg (16923 bytes)   "ROOT-LOOP" is several years in training from the time the single aerial root was severed.   Initially, it was supported by a single stick.  Later after the growth section was bent down and new aerial roots developed, it was supported by several sticks tied at the top like a teepee.  Aluminum foil was wrapped around the sticks, media filled in, and the tree left to grow for another two years or so.

            The color of the glaze of the Richard Boggs pot beautifully compliments the color of the Dwarf Schefflera trunk and foliage. 

Root-Loop in Bogg Pot 2 Sep03.jpg (20145 bytes)             With the support sticks and aluminum foil removed, the strong healthy roots can be seen. But they are far too thin and not yet able to support itself.  Kept at the original height, it would be a bit too tall for the pot if the foliage mass was allowed to grow out.

            So it was decided to train the roots into a more interesting series of bends. 

Root-Loop in Bogg Pot 3 Sep03.jpg (26786 bytes)              First, three very heavy aluminum wire "legs" were installed to support the older foliage mass.   A "U" was made near the top and slipped under a part of the older heavier section. The three heavy wires supported the top section like a tripod and with plastic tie material, the wires were well secured in the top portion of the tree. 
Root-Loop in Bogg Pot 4 Sep03.jpg (26699 bytes)                The lower portion was wrapped with aluminum foil with some spaghnum moss placed within the roots and media added.  More aluminum foil, spaghnum moss and media was added to build up about 6" at a time.  This photo was taken after three aluminum foil sections were in place.  Monofilament tape was used to tighten the column to give it some stiffness

               Just as you would want a bonsai trunk to have a trunk taper with the bottom trunk to be wider, the width of the aluminum foil is wider at the bottom.  . 

Root-Loop in Bogg Pot 5 Sep03.jpg (26266 bytes)                 The "trunk" was easily shaped as the three tripod legs hold the desired shape.   The bottom is tied securely to the pot with plastic tie material.  No effort was made to create an attractive appearance as the primary objective is to have an outstanding growing environment for the tree to become very healthy.  The tree should not shake at all.

                In selecting growth points, excess branches that hid the distinctive "Root-Loop" were removed and the foliage thinned.  Branches will be trained downwards. Perhaps in the future additional growth near the top will be removed to allow the distinctive "Root-Loop" to be further exposed.

                The overall height of the arrangement is about twice the widest dimension of the pot. This proportion is especially effective with complex elegant shapes. When the roots are strong enough to support the tree,  some of the media will be removed to expose some roots. The width of the root base will thicken and give a good stability.    

Root-Loop in Bogg Pot 6 Sep03.jpg (28317 bytes)            Detail of the unique "Root-Loop." The flattish section at the top is where the aerial root and branch was severed.   The right part was the original single aerial root.  The left section was the end of the branch that was bent down and which developed additional aerial roots.  The new aerial roots were woven with the original aerial root-trunk to form the "root-loop."

          This tree uses a Chinese design concept of identifying the most distinctive trait, then developing a styling to highlight or emphasize that feature. When using this concept, trees that include a unique feature will more likely take on new non-standard bonsai shapes. 

          In this sense, Chinese penjing tends to be art in which each tree is unique.

                Throughout the history of artistic pot plants, bonsai has combined the skills of both the trainer of the trees and the makers of the pots.  Usually they are two different people who may not know of each other.  This was an especially fun project that produced a unique result.  The arrangement will be donated to the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation to include in the Hawaii State Bonsai Repository. There will be future update reports to show how it develops.

                Bonsai is increasingly becoming an international artform and it's exciting to see the higher standards of American bonsai potters!  By utilizing Richard's pot with a unique True Indoor Bonsai design, we show what can happen as the bonsai world expands.   Richard kindly included another similar smaller pot as a gift and I've taken it as a challege to create an accent planting that will compliment and allow the two to be exhibited together.

                MAHALO (THANK YOU) AGAIN, RICHARD!  ~~~David


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