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artofbonsai.org • View topic - Artistic Merits of Moss?
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 Post subject: Artistic Merits of Moss?
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 3:35 am 
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Hi all,
One of the things i notice on most of the entries in the North American vs European Phioto Contest here is that the bonsaisoil is not covered completely or not at all, by moss.
I always have learned from the Japanese that, when you put a bonsai on exposition the soil always has to be covered totally!
Especially with the shohin bonsai this is and should be one of the basic rules!If you have a good look in all kokofu books and daikan-ten books you will see that all soil is covered.
I wonder why this is not done by most people, in my opnion the trees without moss look just repotted now, smile.
I do know and understand that, especially about creating shohin-expositions there is still a lot of work and teaching to be done.
See you all!
Daan Giphart
The Netherlands


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PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 4:52 am 
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Daan,
you have to listen whoever you think can tell you the 'real truth'.
I preach that it is NOT a good idea to cover everything with moss. This is out of fashion and it is not natural anyway. Artistically it usually looks best if there are a few moss patches just around the trunk and then some nice looking fine gravel on the rest of the surface.
The moss thing with Japanese exhibits comes form the times when a bonsai was ONLY exhibited in a tokonoma. This is a Buddhist house altar. And one would never have some dirt on a house altar. Therefore it was a no-no to have any soil visible on these bonsai.
If one does a classical tokonoma setting it might still be important for some to cover everything with moss. I would still not do this to make a point.
The point is that this is absolutely not a Japanese game anymore. It is a wold wide game and the rules are gradually made world wide. As long as bonsai was a craft (until around 1975 and up to 1985) one could make statements like 'this HAS to be done'. Since it is treated as an art anything goes.
You have the right though to not like it. But one would make a fool of oneself to demand that something is 'right' or 'wrong'. Bonsai fundamentalists are a dying out species. Also in Japan! Read my travelogues blog!
Walter


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PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 9:54 am 
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Thanks for your input on this issue Walter. I had never heard of, or thought about, the significance of the Tokonoma display and the use of moss. This is kind of an eye opener. I have never had a problem growing moss, usually I have a problem having too much of it.
You also make an excellent point about Art and Craft which I agree with. As to art: I have had thoughts that a totally moss covered soil and a conifer seem to be somewhat incongruous in the same planting together. It is like the representation of a mountain tree suffering the ravages of nature with rugged bark and dead wood, growing on a golf course. The two just don't seem to go together, logically, in the same setting.


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PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 2:53 pm 
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Hi Walter,
Thanks for the reaction!
As you know( we know eachother , we have met) i am most of the time one of the people who is renewing expositions and stands.
I do know bonsai is not a fully japanese or chinese game anymore but as you know its all a matter of taste as well.
For the larger trees i agree that the soil does not have to be covered, again its a matter of taste but with shohin bonsai this is a bit of another issue, in my opinion( again its a matter of taste) for me and many others , shohin bonsai in display without moss look poor and just repotted.
So i am not demanding such at all i am only making a discussion about it.
For me its not right or wrong at all ,besides that, nothing wrong with bonsai fundamentalists. So i think its a bit strange to say that anyone is making a fool of him or herself by having their own taste.
Renewings in shohinbonsai displaying are often not well understood by a lot of people but also not rejected. But is the bonsai loving world ready for renewing? It depends where you are and what kind of background the people have.
Its real good to notice that renewings in shohinbonsaidisplays are often well understood and well appreciated! But also the classic displays are higly appreciated at all times. This is the way it should be, to be able to appreciate all, right?
Daan Giphart


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PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 3:52 pm 
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Editor Note:
This thread has been moved from the contest forum here to the Art of Bonsai Discussion area. Daan messaged me explaining that he meant to post in the contest discussion area, but before corrections could be made, members had already responded.
Although the content remains the same, the title has been changed.


Last edited by Will Heath on Sat May 26, 2007 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 4:03 pm 
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Bonsai is an illusion and bonsai artists create illusions of grand old trees. Moss, like so many other things can add or distract from that illusion. Too many people fail to realize the purpose of moss, they simply plop it on without thought or inspiration and what they achieve is moss that looks exactly like what it is, moss.
Used correctly, and with the same creative talent that makes a small shrub look like a huge ancient tree, moss can give the illusion of grass, undergrowth, and other naturally occurring plants that add to the overall illusion.
How can moss be used creatively? One trick I like is using a darker shade of moss inside the drip line and a lighter shade out side of it. This gives the illusion of grass being shaded by the foliage, it can make the tree look like a good place to rest, out of the sun, int the shade cast by the magnificent old tree.
Another common mistake is when moss is allow to grow over the entire surface area as mentioned above. I have seen great old scarred and twisted bonsai with such a full moss covering. It always makes me wonder how the grass escaped the extremes of nature that sculpted the tree. I wrote more about this in an article here http://www.artofbonsai.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=102.
We style a small tree or shrub to give the illusion of a huge old tree, we should style the moss, if used, to resemble grass, or other such undergrowth, it should never look like moss.

Will


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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 6:09 pm 
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A bit of a side bar from someone who has had an abundance of the stuff. If you allow the moss to completely cover the surface of the soil you will not affect the drainage as some are likened to say but it does create a problem. Because moss will hold a good deal of moisture the evaporation from the same tends to moisten the surface of the trunk and encourage moss to grow on the trunk; something you do not want. This can, if left unchecked, damage the texture and color of the bark. If it stays long enough it can cause the surface to rot. This much moss will also over grow the nebari. So moss is nice but not too much.


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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 6:45 pm 
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With all due respect, what is being discussed here is moss for exhibit, not moss growing on the surface of the soil. When a tree is shown at Kokufu Ten, the tree will (usually) be potted in an antique container just for the show, and moss will be carefully and artistically placed just for the show. As soon as the exhibition is over, the tree will be returned to its regular growing pot and the moss will most likely be removed.


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