Due to popular demand we have started this series to help Bonsai artists and our loyal customers in their choice of a bonsai container. There are many factors that need to be taken into account when selecting a bonsai pot and we will be diving into the way we select a container for our trees and customers trees.
Masculine or Feminine
The main consideration in choosing a pot is to work out if the tree is masculine or feminine. This is determined by multiple characteristics of each tree, for example the nebari, trunk line, bark texture, leaf density and much more.
A tree that has characteristics of strength, power, formality, harshness, roughness and struggle can be considered masculine
A tree that has characteristics of calm, delicacy, instability, informality and finesse can be considered feminine.
Please note that these are merely guidelines and form a basis on how to break down the elements of tree and pot to help in choosing a correct Bonsai container. Every artist and bonsai enthusiast will have their own opinions and artistic flair which will create a different composition of their own.
Pseudocydonia (Chinese Quince)
Gardiol van Horsten Jnr
Current pot size: 290mm wide
Tree Size: 490 including current pot high
Lets start by listing some of the characteristics of this tree and how they fit into the masculine or feminine approach.
Nebari - Masculine, good taper and shows promise of a good balanced base. In future, development can be done to improve left side nebari flair and even distribution
Trunk line - Feminine, very nice meandering curvature with great taper
Bark texture - Feminine, Smooth bark with lots of interest
Bark colour - Feminine, lightly coloured creamy grey top layer with green and red tones in further layers.
Primary branches - Feminine, delicate branches raise slightly upwards showing a youthful informality.
Ramification - Feminine, Twiggy growth that over time will become denser and denser
Leaf size/density - Masculine, At this point the leaf size being largish in scale with the tree give a much more prominent feel. Over time this may change with size reduction
Leaf colour New/Old - Feminine, The very light green tinge of the leaves helps reduce the visual weight of the canopy.
Other features - Feminine, Flowers, the colour of the flowers will help add to the femininity of this tree.
Masculine 2 - Feminine 7
On the scale below the tree is at no 4 on the masculine side.
Option A: Oval T Large 31cm x 22cm x 5cm high - Willow Bonsai Pots
Glazed effect: Cappuccino glaze as picture
A. Pot characteristics:
1. Top View - Feminine, Oval shaped pot.
2. Side Profile - Feminine, Tapered curve towards the foot. Nice visual weight reduction.
3. Rim effect - Feminine, No rim present
4. Feet of pot - Masculine, slight indentation from profile which gives a hint of femininity. However simple feet with rectangular form.
5. Feet design - Masculine, Rectangular low profile design with straight sides and wide design.
6. Details and special features - None
7. Glazed/Unglazed - Feminine, The matt Cappuccino glaze is quite subdued and delicate. This pot will also work in our Ruri glaze (See Pottery studio page for picture).
Masculine 2 - Feminine 4
1. Contrast and Harmony - This pot with its Cappuccino glaze has numerous elements to work with. Its subdued tones give a nice feminine feel to the pot and composition. The size is slightly bigger than current pot but this gives space for the new ramification.
The light cream colour harmonizes with the light tone in the top layer of the bark while contrasting with the pink flowers and darker coloured branch structures.
The hints of brown harmonize with the other layer of bark and branch structure.
The blueish grey speckle helps to give a unique characteristic to the pot plus picking up tones in the bark and green spectrum in the leaf.
2. Composition/ Telling a story - This pot will emphasize the overall femininity of the tree very well while keeping the overall feeling that Gardiol already has with the current pot. The current pot is too masculine for the tree but coloration works beautifully.
The story that we can tell with this pot tree combo is of a beautiful youthful tree in a meadow filled with vibrant green grass. The area is littered with dusty white/cream rocky outcrops peaking through the grass with hints of grey lichen in places(think the white cliffs of Dover). The wind blows through the meadow gently as the long green grasses sway sleepily in the wind, a peace and tranquility is felt through the tree and landscape.
Option B: Drum Large - B 28cm x 7cm high - Willow Bonsai Pots
Glazed effect: Ruri blue glaze as pictured in image no 2
B. Pot characteristics:
1. Top View - Feminine, Round
2. Side Profile - Feminine, incurved profile with good reduction of visual weight towards the bottom of the curve.
3. Rim effect - Feminine, No rim but the inward curve show reduction in visual weight and therefore femininity.
4. Feet of pot - Masculine, slight indent in side profile but overall simple design of foot.
5. Feet design - Masculine, simple design with rectangular bent form and low profile look.
6. Details and special features - Masculine, studs on the top and bottom give some interest to the pot and more a slight bit more visual mass.
7. Glazed/Unglazed - Feminine, The Ruri glaze will enhance this pots shape, the gloss will add femininity.
Masculine 3 - Feminine 4
1. Contrast and Harmony - The size of this pot is slightly smaller than the current pot. With this in mind the overall canopy of the tree will be more emphasized. The Ruri glaze will contrast well with the pink flowers while picking up the spectrum of blue-green in the leaves, hence creating a much brighter and healthy appearance.
2. Composition/ Telling a story - In comparison to Option A this pot with its smaller size and prominent stance will help bring all the features of the tree out. From the lush green of the leaf, to the white bark contrast and the flower colour. This pot creates a very different composition in which the tree is bigger, or we as the viewer is slightly closer to the tree. The extra negative space on each side of the pot underneath the canopy shows majesty and an older tree.
This Chinese Quince has so many different features and seasonal features that each pot will bring something new and unique out of the composition. However in my opinion a possibility of using Option A with the Ruri glaze will bring out the femininity while still giving us the contrast to brighten and emphasize the leaves, flowers and bark. It would look amazing!
As always this is an opinion and is just a guideline to what can work and the reason thereof. In art we need to take a set of choices and make them tangible and easy to understand. Breaking up the characteristics of the tree and pot makes this easier to explain the options and choices made in a constructive manner. Not just saying it looks nice or not, but using the above to tell a story and convey the image in the artists mind to the viewer.
Want to participate?
We plan on doing a case study on a tree like the above each week for our customers and collection trees. If you would like to participate and have us choose a pot for your tree with explanations please send us an email with the following details:
Photo of tree taken from the front and at eyelevel
Size of the tree
Size of current pot
Future growth and compositional remarks for the future.
What story do you have in mind for the tree or what feature do you want to enhance.
Send the above to email@example.com