A place for conversation, incubation, and the connection of other mediums to the world of bonsai. In this podcast, guests from all over the world gather to explore bonsai as an avenue to connect nature, culture, and the individual. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
In this episode of Asymmetry we talk with David Knittle about his profound and iconic bonsai stands. Follow along and listen to his journey in woodworking and learn about his beautiful mastery of his craft.
Rodney Clemons: Kingsville Boxwoods
In this episode of Asymmetry, a significant reference in the culture of North American Bonsai, Rodney Clemons has had a professional career for over 30 years that has provided him a tremendous amount of experience, insight, influence and unique knowledge not only about the bonsai community and its history but also specifically the nuances that pertain to the wonderful species cultivated in North America, primarily speaking about the Kingsville Boxwood. After his stream on Mirai Live, titled Boxwood Primer, we got to sit down with Rodney and dissect all things bonsai related. His life, his garden and what has led on his journey to where he is at and how he has gone about the process of refining and really pursuing the highest level of information about a species not commonly practiced or understood to this degree.
In this episode of Asymmetry, professional tree climber and instructor, Tim Kovar, connects with Ryan Neil over their shared passion for the living organism of the htree. With a climbing school called the Tree Climbing Planet, Tim educates the community on how to responsibly climb trees, and how to connect and acknowledge these massive co-habitants of earth. After having climbed the old-growth redwoods together earlier this year, they delve into Tim’s background and perspective that nourishes their mutual passion for trees.
To learn more about conscientious tree climbing, check out Tim’s website treeclimbingplanet.com
The Covered Wagon 2021
In this episode of Asymmetry, tales from the Covered Wagon’s 2021 odyssey are revealed by dream team Ira Sisson and Ryan Clumpner, in conversation with Ryan Neil. In true Covered Wagon spirit, Ira and Ryan share their impressions of the diverse cultures that make up the United States in a way that only a cross-country road trip can impart, including an unexpectedly hilarious encounter during a midnight hotel arrival halfway across the country.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil has a remarkably hopeful conversation with savant agronomist James Agent of Eden Blue Gold Solutions about the future of soil science, cultivation, and sustainability in agriculture. With an aim to reduce the human footprint in all aspects of horticulture – from farming to bonsai, James provides profound insight into mineral nutrition and the grander scale of agronomy to feed the world.
To learn more about Eden Blue Gold Solutions, check out their website edenbluegold.com
In this episode of Asymmetry, bonsai professional extraordinaire Sergio Cuan rejoins us remotely for the second round of recording as we delve into his breakdown of seasonal deciduous cultivation. Based out of the Northeastern United States, Sergio's passion for maples, elms, hornbeams, and beech help us to expand our understanding of growth management and refinement through pruning, pinching, and defoliation.
To see Sergio Cuan's work, check out his website m5bonsaiworks.com
In this long-awaited episode of Asymmetry, Ryan returns from battle with the recent heatwave to rejoice in the company of legendary bonsai ceramicist Ron Lang. The unmatched, monumental body of work Ron Lang and his partner have created over the course of time is an inspiration to upcoming artists, and it is with profound respect we congratulate him on his retirement and final collection. Lang's extraordinary artistic influence and delightful persona will endure timelessly in the realm of professional bonsai ceramics.
To learn more about Ron Lang and his profound body of work, check out langbonsai.com or shop our collection of Lang's work at goods.bonsaimirai.com
In this episode of Asymmetry, we are joined in the office by the familiar voice of Todd Schlafer, who is one of the most talented individuals traveling and teaching bonsai in North America. Now returning from a momentous trip to the Rocky Mountains near Todd's home, Ryan and him reflect on the shared experience of taking Mirai into the wild. Reminiscing, the two wrap their shared time together after weeks of working side by side and now look forward to the national show in Rochester.
To see Todd Schlafer's work, check out his website First Branch Bonsai.
In this episode of Asymmetry, the Mirai garden is illuminated with joy and creativity as we are joined by our honored guest, kusamono professional Young Choe. Proudly compelling and feminine, Young guides us through her and early childhood in Korea and enlightens us with her evolution as a kusamono artist, and the origins of her passion for horticulture.
To see more of Young Choe's work, check out her website at kusamonochoe.com
In this episode of Asymmetry, we are elated to announce Mirai Live's new educator David Cutchin, a long-term student of Mirai with an extensive background in ecology and Southeastern American environments. As an expert in tropicals, propagation, and material cultivation and development for bonsai, David ushers us into a new era of Mirai Live instruction.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Andrew Pearson, the UK-based ceramic artist behind the Stone Monkey brand joins Ryan Neil remotely to discuss the evolution of Pearson’s artistic journey. Expressing his connection to the containers he meticulously crafts, and the creation of the permanent vessel for the nonpermanent living tree, Pearson guides us through his artistic odyssey and the complicated ethos that accompanies the artists’s perspective of their own creations.
To shop the newest collection of ceramics from Stone Monkey check out our webstore.
In this episode of Asymmetry, ceramicist Nao Tokutake joins Ryan Neil for an in-depth conversation of ceramics, delving into the concept of the vessel, the clay, the chemistry, and the origins of the bonsai ceramic. As a young and upcoming ceramic artist in the Pacific Northwest, Nao profoundly details his personal journey from his roots in Japan to his background in engineering that serves to supplement his keen artistic approach to the bonsai vessel.
Shop our collection of Nao Tokutake's ceramics in our webstore.
In this episode of Asymmetry, long-time friends and bonsai professionals Peter Warren and Ryan Neil catch up on the past year and discuss the highly debated topic of Japanese maple pinching. As a Mirai collaborator and a revered United Kingdom bonsai educator, Peter Warren is well respected for his practice and knowledge of acer palmatum bonsai cultivation.
To learn more from Peter Warren, check out his website.
For this episode of Asymmetry, the Mirai team visited the Pacific Bonsai Museum to shine a light on the current exhibit, World War Bonsai: remembrance and resilience. Eve Sczechowski sits down with museum curator Aarin Packard and researcher Nancy Ukai, who is the director of a digital project called 50 Objects/Stories: The American Japanese Incarceration. Listen and understand Nancy's perspective as a Japanese American with family members who were unjustly incarcerated during the 1940's, and understand how this history has majorly influenced the story of American bonsai.
To see more about the exhibit at the Pacific Bonsai Museum, check out: https://pacificbonsaimuseum.org/on-view/exhibits/
To read more about Nancy Ukai and her 50 Objects digital project, check out: https://50objects.org/about/
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is joined by Ken Carlson, the owner of Joshua Roth bonsai tools. As a testament to the quality, Joshua Roth tools have stood the test of time as effective, durable, and professional-grade tools that have an immense influence on bonsai cultivation. They discuss Ken's history in tools, the New Talent competition, and their previous collaboration for the Artisans Cup.
To shop our selection of Joshua Roth bonsai tools, check out our webstore at https://goods.bonsaimirai.com
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is remotely joined by Gil Marriner, a retired international pilot as well as a dedicated bonsai practitioner. They converse about what it takes to maintain a bonsai garden while juggling the schedule and responsibilities of a commercial pilot.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is proud to announce a new Mirai Live educator and Australian bonsai professional Hugh Grant. As the founder and creative force behind Tree Makers Bonsai, Hugh teaches outstanding technical and aesthetically driven bonsai concepts with reference to native Australian species. As a long-time friend of Bonsai Mirai, Hugh joins us to share his unparalleled understanding on Australian bonsai culture that is soon to come to Mirai Live.
To learn more about Hugh Grant and Tree Makers Bonsai go to https://www.treemakers.net/
In this episode of Asymmetry, Mirai team members Josh and Eve catch up with Ryan for a nostalgic review of the creation of the beginner series. Josh emphasized his bonsai journey has only begun, while Eve is soon to take on her first attempt in the coming weeks. Conversations are shared of childhood toys, fantastical interests, interpretations of nature, and species to use as bonsai subjects.
To watch the beginner series, click here.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan is joined by one of the most prolific providers of bonsai material in the northwest United States, Randy Knight. After working on a series of strong-based deciduous trees at Mirai, we recognize the profound resource of Randy's field growing operation experience. As familiar friends, the two discuss noteworthy insight on growing deciduous material, sapling cultivation, and catch up with one another since the New Year.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil makes a long distance call to speak with Luc and Christian, both being members of the bonsai association of Belgium, to discuss the annual bonsai Trophy. As a pillar of influence for European and North American bonsai, the Trophy is a massive exhibition. Understand what it takes to run this type of exhibition, how it came to be, and where it will go in the years to come.
To see more about the Bonsai Trophy and the Bonsai Association of Belgium, check out their website at: https://bonsaiassociation.be/trophy/
In this episode of Asymmetry, the outstanding bonsai professional Mary Madison is interviewed by fellow Mirai student and deadwood artist David Cutchin. As a significant historical figure of in the development of bonsai culture, Madison has been a mentor to Ryan Neil as early as high school, and a driving force for bonsai practitioners worldwide.
If you would like to more of Mary Madison's work, check out her website at Orlando Bonsai
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil visits bonsai practioner Tom Roberts at his field growing operation Driftwood Bonsai in Coos Bay, Oregon. After combing through the fields for material selection, this affable conversation between the two takes us down the path of Roberts's background and the origins of his passion for bonsai and field growing.
To learn more about Tom Roberts and Driftwood Bonsai, check out http://www.driftwoodbonsai.com
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is virtually joined by the exceedingly talented Czech ceramicist Tom Benda. Understanding his process and artistic vision that contributes to the finished ceramic vessel is an asset to the creation of any bonsai composition. Benda’s most recent shipment is one that will inspire awe and fuel your inspiration this repotting season.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is remotely joined once again by bonsai professional Andrew Robson to delve into the discussion of bonsai as an art form versus a craft. This discussion is not a debate, but instead an exercise of thought to stimulate fascinating conversations about the practice of bonsai in the greater context of the artistic world.
To learn more about Andrew Robson and his work, check out his website at https://www.rakuyobonsai.com
In this unique episode of Asymmetry, Ryan flies solo for a different paced podcast to jumpstart the New Year. Expressing his thoughts and ambitions for Bonsai Mirai, he shares the origin story that has built the brand over the past ten years, and explores his aspirations for this next legendary decade of bonsai.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is remotely joined by a good friend and fellow bonsai professional and educator Todd Schlafer for a discussion about the shared experiences and oddities of being bonsai professionals stuck in their own gardens, reflecting on an overall strange year. They reconnect about their facility improvements, garden management, juniper cultivation, and the forever evolving design process of collected native material.
To see more about Todd's facility, check out his website at https://www.firstbranchbonsai.com
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is remotely joined by Rodney Clemons, a beguiling bonsai professional based in Georgia who humors us with his personability and guides us through his bonsai discovery. This long-awaited conversation sparks a reminder of the massive impact Rodney's approach to bonsai had on Ryan when he first returned from Japan, witnessing the magical garden facility that Rodney ardently built his wife Charlie over the years.
To see more from Rodney Clemons, check out his website: https://www.allgoodbonsai.com
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is remotely joined by the multi-faceted artist Aaron Kupferman who's refined sculptural concrete vessels have just been added as an entirely unique collection to Bonsai Mirai's webstore. Delve into the mind and the process behind these concrete creations to understand the influence of Kupferman's background, process, and how this unusual medium can be used in modern artistic bonsai creation.
Kupferman's work is available in our webstore at: https://goods.bonsaimirai.com/collections/vendors?q=Aaron%20Kupferman
In this episode of Asymmetry, peek behind the scenes of Bonsai Mirai and meet the team of creative, tireless, and passionate people helping every day behind the curtains. Get to know the voices from the office, some old and some new, as we enjoy each other’s company with a happy hour before a Super Tuesday livestream. We cover media, arts, and our origins sitting in the far corners of the Mirai office as the fall sun dips behind the tree line.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is remotely joined by Mexican bonsai practitioner Asis Inzunza to have a conversation about the origins of bonsai in Mexico and the cultural influences of Central America on their bonsai aesthetic canon. Delve in as we explore the way in which bonsai practice is nuanced based on the culture wherein it is practiced and the insight of Asis's personal bonsai discovery journey.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is joined by the talented and multi-faceted bonsai professional and sculptural artist David Cutchin from Florida. His 3D framework constructed out of the remnants of ancient trees echoes the depth and stories of each piece of deadwood combined into the composition. Join the verbal journey Cutchin leads us on through his past and perspective, and keep an eye out for his astonishing work that will be in our webstore soon.
In this episode of Asymmetry, we are rejoined remotely by Andrew Robson, the bonsai professional behind Rakuyo Bonsai, to follow up on a discussion about fruiting and flowering bonsai species. This episode not only touches on deciduous species, but also the impact of the devastating Oregon wildfires and our close community members at Telperion Farms who were deeply affected.
For more of Andrew Robson's work, go to https://www.rakuyobonsai.com/
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is remotely joined by Derek Delisi, a bonsai practitioner from Montreal, Quebec to discuss philosophy and how it pertains to bonsai. Tune in to this esoteric conversation that highlights the concept of enactivism and other unique philosophical perspectives.
In this episode of Asymmetry, the completion of the LAB project is celebrated over cheerful banter and beers amongst artists Ron Lang, Austin Heitzman, and Ryan Neil with curator Aaron Packard. The Living Art of Bonsai project, also known as the LAB project, is hosted by the Pacific Bonsai Museum. It is a first-of-its-kind of program, based on an artist-in-residency model, providing bonsai artists the opportunity to create works of art outside the limitations of the marketplace.
For more information on Pacific Bonsai Museum's LAB Project, check out http://pacificbonsaimuseum.org/lab
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is joined remotely by aquaculture expert Gareth Barber in New South Wales, Australia for a comprehensive discussion on soil science from a new perspective. Expand your understanding with a digestible vernacular that digs into the science within the bonsai pot.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan sits down with Troy Cardoza and Todd Schlafer, a Colorado bonsai professional, to catch up on their lives and all things bonsai. They examine the increased ability to observe and respond to their tree's needs during these homebound times to offer insight on adjustments in care.
To see Todd's work, visit https://www.firstbranchbonsai.com
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is rejoined by soil scientist Ian Hunter to discuss the findings from the soil science experiment hosted at Mirai. They discuss their opposing perspectives about soil biology in the bonsai container and round out the conversations started about soil biology and mineral balancing.
Ian Hunter of Curesoil Consulting - www.curesoil.com
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil delves into the subject of women in bonsai with guests Shelly Svoboda, a talented local Oregonian practitioner, and Eve Sczechowski, Bonsai Mirai’s project manager. Join us as we inquire into the discussion of gender disparity within the community that practices bonsai, the origins of Shelly’s bonsai journey, and a breakdown of stigma surrounding the term “female bonsai professional.”
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is joined by Sergio Cuan an inspiring North American bonsai professional who is known around the world for his beautifully designed deciduous bonsai. Join the discussion about Sergio's personal journey with bonsai, his evolution and thought process, and how he is expanding his design concepts from deciduous to coniferous species to create stunning bonsai specimens.
For more of Sergio's work, visit https://www.m5bonsaiworks.com
On this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan is joined by David De Groot, a bonsai practitioner from Washington whose work has come to the forefront of North American bonsai with the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection and his unique pieces shared via social media. Discover the nuances that De Groot has used to blend Bonsai and Penjing aesthetics, his curation of the Pacific Bonsai Museum, and how his work influenced Ryan's own practices years ago.
Austin Heitzman, friend and frequent Mirai collaborator, is an enormously talented woodworker pushing the boundaries of bonsai display. In this episode, Ryan and Austin discuss Austin's innovative new projects, how these unprecedented pandemic times have evolved and changed their art and businesses, and how the stand's role in bonsai display has shifted over time.
For more of Austin's work, visit www.austinheitzmanfurniture.com.
Meet Brad Cloepfil: architect and founder of Allied Works, inspiration and mentor to Ryan, incredible artist and innovator. In this episode, Ryan and Brad discuss their perceptions of the future and how it differs in their respective fields, the impact of the current pandemic on their teams and workspaces, and the intricate facets within the art forms they've chosen to build their lives around.
For more of Brad's work, see Allied Works.
In perhaps our most socially-distanced podcast ever, UK-based bonsai professional Peter Warren (Saruyama Bonsai) joins Ryan virtually for a discussion of their respective times spent in Japan, their current work and inspirations, and how they're spending this time of quarantine. They explore the online future of bonsai, how isolation has changed their bonsai practice, and just reconnect as two friends on either side of the pond.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan chats with fellow Oregon-based bonsai professional Michael Hagedorn of Crataegus Bonsai. They trade apprenticeship stories, talk about their gardens, work, and inspirations, and discuss Michael's new book Bonsai Heresy, available now through Stone Lantern Publishing.
In this episode, Asymmetry is back in the United States. Dive into the fascinating life and work of Mirai student Bob Muller, and bonsai's evolution in the eastern United States. Bob–a talented musician in addition to his bonsai practice–and Ryan discuss bonsai basics, techniques, and methodologies, the allure of continuing to improve old trees, and life in general.
In our final episode from Belgium's Trophy 2020, Ryan sits for an interview with a titan of European bonsai: Teunis Jan Klein. The group explores Teunis' innovative deciduous approach, his inspirations, and the evolution of bonsai in the European Low Countries.
In another episode from our travels at Belgium's Trophy 2020–and one where Ryan takes the lead–explore the approach, creativity, and thought process of the duo of Marija Hadjic and Sergio Luciani. These two have created an incredible dynamic of collaboration in their creative and contemplative bonsai presentations; this is a deep conversation about how bonsai is pursued as an art form, and the continued evolution of the European scene.
Dive back into the Trophy 2020 in Belgium, but this time, into the world of ceramics: explore the work of Thor Holvila of Sweden. Lime, Troy, and Czech ceramicist Tom Benda converse with Thor about his inspirations, the unique style of his work, and his journey to creating bonsai ceramics. Thor originally apprenticed with a pioneer of raku glazes in Sweden, but in 2008 became interested in bonsai and began making the pots he wanted to see for his trees.
In another dispatch from the Belgium Trophy 2020, Troy and Lime sit down with two old friends of Mirai: Todd Schlafer of Colorado's First Branch Bonsai, and Czech ceramicist and bonsai artist Jan Culek. If you haven't met them already through past episodes, get to know Todd and Jan as they discuss their thoughts and experiences on the Trophy, some thoughts on design, and their current and upcoming projects.
In another episode straight from Belgium's Trophy 2020, dive into another interview hosted by Troy and Lime. Rafael and Deysa Torres of Bonsai Sense, based in Mallorca, Spain, are on the cutting edge of Spanish bonsai. In this episode, explore Rafa & Deysa's experiences at the Trophy, their story toward becoming bonsai professionals, and some specific techniques on pruning and improving ramification.
In their podcast hosting debut, Lime & Troy have created a new project: focused, short-form episodes of Asymmetry meant to take you straight back to the Trophy 2020 in Belgium. In this episode, get to know South African bonsai artist Antony Smith of Willow Bonsai. Antony, a bonsai practitioner since the age of 12, worked in landscaping before becoming a full-time bonsai professional. Dive into Antony's inspirations, his love of native species, and his evolution over time as a bonsai artist.
In the first episode from Ryan, Lime, and Troy's journey to Belgium for the Trophy 2020, dive into a deep conversation with a true bonsai pioneer: Danny Use of the Gingko Bonsai Center. Danny, Ryan, Lime, and Troy discuss Danny's contributions to the worldwide bonsai community, the relationships he's forged between Europe and Japan, and rise of western bonsai as we see it today. This is one you won't want to miss–a pivotal conversation with a titan of European bonsai.
The first time Dennis Vojtilla appeared on Asymmetry, it was groundbreaking; in this episode, Dennis returns to continue pushing the envelope on the exploration of deciduous species as bonsai. Dennis clarifies and expands upon techniques introduced in his first podcast, details his experimentation with bonsai over the course of his career, and divulges some of his secrets in creating some of the finest ramification we've ever seen.
In this episode, dive into all things deciduous with bonsai professional Andrew Robson of Rakuyo Bonsai, another artist on the cutting edge of American bonsai's evolution. Andrew is not only a bonsai practitioner, but an accomplished musician; listen as Ryan and Andrew explore the dichotomy of Ryan's love of conifers, and Andrew's devotion to deciduous. They examine their thoughts about performing (both musically and in bonsai), their respective apprenticeships, and their passion for native North American species.
In this episode of Asymmetry, get to know prolific, world-renowned yamadori collector Randy Knight. Aside from the mysteries of the collection process, Ryan, Randy, and Lime dive into Randy's life with trees, his passions, and his unfailing curiosity about the world around him.
In this episode, we kick off 2020 by catching up with great bonsai artist and friend Todd Schlafer of First Branch Bonsai. Todd, Ryan, and Lime discuss the end of the year and start of a new decade, their hopes and goals for 2020, what it's like to drive across the country in a truck full of bonsai, and some nostalgia on their collaborations over the years.
Walter Pall is an unmistakable, remarkable personality in the bonsai world. In this episode of Asymmetry, Walter, along with his student Jennifer Price, his apprentice Thomas Haerrig, and inimitable yamadori collector Randy Knight, join Ryan to discuss the evolution of bonsai, and the evolving concept of authenticity as it relates to the art.
In part two of our conversation with Tom Benda and Jan Culek, both incredible Czech ceramicists, we dive further into what makes them tick as artists. Explore how the evolution of bonsai fuels the evolution of their art, and vice versa; listen as Ryan, Lime, Tom, and Jan discuss the formation of ideas, the influence of the environment on a creator, and more.
In this episode of Asymmetry, dive into the stories and experiences behind the innovative ceramic and bonsai artists Tom Benda and Jan Culek, both of the Czech Republic and both creating some of the most exquisite ceramic vessels available for bonsai today. Listen and explore the fall of Communism and the shifts in government in the Czech Republic, and the experiences that shaped the lives and artwork of these two incredible artists.
It's that time of year again: Ryan and Lime journeyed across the country on the Covered Wagon, Bonsai Mirai's yearly tree transport service, to bring trees to their owners and to bring you another slightly delirious road-recorded episode of Asymmetry. In this episode, Ryan and Lime show you the history, process, and the reality behind the Covered Wagon, with plenty of sleep-deprived humor along the way.
After a short hiatus spent driving the Covered Wagon (our cross-country tree transport service) to New York, we're back with another CoffeeCast: a dispatch from one of the groups that have been studying at Mirai the longest, our Juniper 3 class. Though the group comes from varied backgrounds, they find commonality in bonsai; in this episode, they discuss barbecue, ceramics, and the way they approach artistic creation.
In this episode, travel to Montreal with Ryan for an exploration of the Montreal Botanical Garden's Bonsai & Penjing Collection with none other than its chief creator–David Easterbrook. Walk through the history of this collection, how it was created, and the relationships David built with the Montreal Bonsai Club as part of the collection's creation. Discover just how much of an impact David Easterbrook has had on North American bonsai.
On a magical, once-in-a-lifetime trek to the edge of a cliff in Australia's Bouddi National Park, Ryan and Lime sit with Australian artists (bonsai & otherwise) David Segal and Hugh Grant. They explore their thoughts on bonsai, and how individual cultures impact the evolution of this ancient art form, all while sitting in untouched nature full of ancient gum trees.
In this episode, continue exploring Ryan and Lime's Australian journey, this time with a visit to the Australian National Bonsai Collection. Ryan and Lime discuss the collection with curators Lee Taafe and Samuel Thompson, diving into its origins, the move to a new facility, and the work these two are doing to bring this collection to its full potential. Australian bonsai is rapidly growing and evolving, and this collection is at its forefront.
On the way from Sydney to Canberra for the World Bonsai Masters event (presented by Australia's National Bonsai & Penjing Collection and National Arboretum Canberra) Ryan and Lime chat with David Segal–one of the artists fueling the exploration of Australian native species material and pushing Australia forward in its own unique bonsai culture. Listen for a discussion on composition, what it means to redesign a tree (or have your tree redesigned), and more on the new frontier of Australian bonsai.
In this episode of Asymmetry, we're going to Australia: Ryan and Lime sit with Tracey Francis, a prolific ceramicist whose work evokes the unique and native climate, flora, and fauna of Australia in her shapes, colors, and textures. The group explores her approach, her influences as a ceramicist, and the nuances of ceramics as it relates to Australian culture, and Australian bonsai. Tracey's work is exclusively available through Bonsai Mirai - to shop, click here.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan sits down with an old friend and pillar of the California Bonsai scene - Bob Pressler of the California Bonsai Society. They dig deep into the roots of California bonsai; Bob moved to California and joined the bonsai scene under the likes of Ben Oki, Harry Hirao, and John Naka. Most importantly, they announce the creation of the Ben Oki Scholarship Foundation, to fuel the education of dedicated bonsai practitioners, funded by the upcoming auction (beginning September 3, 2019) of a stunning juniper collected and created by Ben Oki, most recently styled by Ryan. To learn more about the Ben Oki Scholarship Foundation, or apply for the scholarship, visit the California Bonsai Society website.
In this episode of Asymmetry, the tables are turned: Ryan is interviewed by Keegan Uhl, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker, leather crafter, Mirai Live member, and dedicated bonsai practitioner. Enjoy this new perspective on an interview with Ryan, where a Mirai Live student gets to interview the teacher.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan and a group of Mirai's advanced students dive into the designs, compositions, stories, and histories of trees in the Kokofu 64 album. They critique and analyze this pivotal exhibition year, bringing their own experiences both in bonsai and in life to their discussion of these incredible trees.
In this episode of Asymmetry, we take another deep dive into soil science. Soil scientists Casey Ernst and Keisha Wheeler, along with Ian Hunter, discuss the value of compost, and how to use it to create a favorable microclimate in the containerized environment. Casey and Keisha are attempting to create and improve a biodiverse compost - and they could use your help perpetuating biodiversity. Listen to learn more about their groundbreaking projects.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan and Lime circle back for another discussion of soil science with Ian Hunter after a long day of experimentation in the greenhouse. They discuss their findings, plan for the future and realize the vast potential of refining soil biology practices as they related to bonsai; this is truly the next frontier of horticulture.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan debriefs his latest trip to the land down under: Australia. Ryan and Lime discuss the changes in Australia since Ryan's last trip, both to Australia itself and Australian bonsai culture. Of particular interest is the growing use of native Australian species in Australian bonsai; they discuss some nuances of these unique trees, and cover how Australian bonsai is truly maturing and coming into its own.
On perhaps our most ambitious series of episodes yet, Ryan and Mirai student Will Kerns are diving deep into an incredible book: The Bonsai Art of Kimura. This book, a pivotal piece of literature in the bonsai canon, is chock-full of magical trees created by none other than Mr. Masahiko Kimura. Listen as Ryan and Will go page by page through the book–follow along if you have the text–and discuss the evolution, techniques, and history behind these masterful trees. This episode covers pages 146 through the end of the book.
On perhaps our most ambitious series of episodes yet, Ryan and Mirai student Will Kerns are diving deep into an incredible book: The Bonsai Art of Kimura. This book, a pivotal piece of literature in the bonsai canon, is chock-full of magical trees created by none other than Mr. Masahiko Kimura. Listen as Ryan and Will go page by page through the book–follow along if you have the text–and discuss the evolution, techniques, and history behind these masterful trees. This episode covers pages 134-145.
On perhaps our most ambitious series of episodes yet, Ryan and Mirai student Will Kerns are diving deep into an incredible book: The Bonsai Art of Kimura. This book, a pivotal piece of literature in the bonsai canon, is chock-full of magical trees created by none other than Mr. Masahiko Kimura. Listen as Ryan and Will go page by page through the book–follow along if you have the text–and discuss the evolution, techniques, and history behind these masterful trees. This episode covers pages 92-133.
On perhaps our most ambitious series of episodes yet, Ryan and Mirai student Will Kerns are diving deep into an incredible book: The Bonsai Art of Kimura. This book, a pivotal piece of literature in the bonsai canon, is chock-full of magical trees created by none other than Mr. Masahiko Kimura. Listen as Ryan and Will go page by page through the book–follow along if you have the text–and discuss the evolution, techniques, and history behind these masterful trees. This episode covers pages 60-91.
On perhaps our most ambitious series of episodes yet, Ryan and Mirai student Will Kerns are diving deep into an incredible book: The Bonsai Art of Kimura. This book, a pivotal piece of literature in the bonsai canon, is chock-full of magical trees created by none other than Mr. Masahiko Kimura. Listen as Ryan and Will go page by page through the book–follow along if you have the text–and discuss the evolution, techniques, and history behind these masterful trees. This episode covers pages 35-59.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan and Lime sit down with two longtime Mirai students: Ira and Darlene. They're both dedicated bonsai practitioners with an extremely unique approach to the art form, based on their location—Las Vegas, Nevada, one of the toughest climates to cultivate bonsai in. They discuss the nuances of creating bonsai in the desert, their bonsai histories, both individual and shared, and their visions of the evolution of the art of bonsai.
Stephanie Wascha is an architect, artist, and author living and working in Seattle, Washington. Her passion is connecting people with place; her work ranges from private residences to mixed-use development, from historic preservation to community art projects. In this episode of Asymmetry, Stephanie sits with Ryan and Lime to discuss her background in ceramics, her growing interest in bonsai, her architectural practice, and the line walked between architecture and bonsai–and what we can learn from it.
Laura Buchan is a modern sculptor based in the breathtakingly beautiful Columbia Gorge. Her work pulls from biological and organic imagery; her main medium is carved wood. In her own words, she enjoys “creating pieces that walk the line between fantastic and realistic.” Ryan and Laura discuss her sculptural process, the organic influences that inform her work, and the overall practice and meaning of being an artist.
In another CoffeeCast episode, Ryan sits down with one of Mirai’s most driven students: Pierre Seguin of Quebec. They discuss Pierre’s adventures and explorations as an Emmy-winning underwater videographer, wine expert, and of course, a bonsai practitioner. Pierre takes on all his pursuits with the highest levels of dedication; in this episode, dive into how bonsai correlates with all of his other passions.
On our second CoffeeCast, we bring bonsai practitioner and great friend of Mirai Todd Schlafer (First Branch Bonsai) back for another early morning conversation. Ryan and Todd discuss Todd’s journey: his shift from working in the marketing world to becoming a bonsai professional is a truly inspiring story. In this episode, dive into the world of professional bonsai and all it entails, on career, personal, and creative levels.
On the 50th episode of Asymmetry, we go back to our roots: meeting the folks that are influencing the bonsai world and teaching fundamental techniques. Ryan and Lime sit down with UK bonsai practitioner Will Baddeley (Wild Wood Bonsai) to explore his background, his trees, and most importantly, his prodigious carving skills.
After returning from the 20th Noelanders Trophy in Genk, Belgium, Ryan and Troy sit down with Lime to debrief. Walk with them through the halls of the exhibition, reliving the demonstrations, the incredible trees, and the bonsai camaraderie present at one of the world's finest exhibitions of bonsai.
In this groundbreaking episode, prepare to expand your understanding of soil in the containerized environment. Soil scientist Ian Hunter walks us through the capacity of soil to facilitate microbial growth and the balance between fungi and bacteria, opening the door toward fending off diseases and insects without anything beyond the soil itself. Dig deep into a largely unknown world, and potentially the most important aspect of plant cultivation: the soil system and the flora that exists within it.
In this episode of Asymmetry, travel back in time to 2015: the year that Mirai executed The Artisans Cup, a groundbreaking bonsai exhibition in Portland, Oregon. Troy, Lime, and Ryan sit down in the workshop and take a journey through the Artisans Cup book (link to buy below) and revisit the trees, displays, experiences, and conversations that made the exhibition great.
In this episode of Asymmetry, get to know the incredibly significant Northwest bonsai artist Greg Brenden. Ryan and Greg discuss Greg's journey as a bonsai practitioner, how his practice has evolved over the years, and perhaps their most interesting topic–an incomparable Southwestern White Pine, the only specimen of its kind currently living as a bonsai. Ryan and Greg discuss this remarkable tree, once exhibited at the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition, the Artisans Cup, and now part of the Mirai collection.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan and Lime explore one of the most exciting times of the year for bonsai practitioners: repotting season. They discuss techniques, repotting as it parallels to life & other disciplines, and of course, get into plenty of stories along the way.
On this special episode of Asymmetry, Ryan sits down with two remarkable musicians: Asher Fulero (who's worked for years as a musician with bands like Emancipator and his own projects, and as a producer and composer) and bassist Josh Casey (also a bonsai practitioner). Ryan, Lime, Asher, and Josh dig in deep to open the idea and concept of creativity, how it's represented in music, and how it ties a common thread through all different art forms. They dive into art vs. craft, the production process, and how those ideas cross disciplines. And of course, there are some great stories from the road.
On this episode of Asymmetry, join Ryan, Troy, Lime, and great friend of Mirai Todd Schlafer (First Branch Bonsai) as they catch up on our earliest-recorded podcast to date–7am. They discuss artificial intelligence, that day's incredible sunrise, and debrief Ryan's trip to Italy. All four of them share their highlights of 2018, and their aspirations for the new year.
This episode of Asymmetry was recorded after the first meeting of the Pacific Bonsai Museum LAB project: the Living Art of Bonsai. This is a first-of-its-kind of program, based on an artist-in-residency model, providing bonsai artists the opportunity to create works of art outside the limitations of the marketplace. Featured artists Ryan Neil, Ron Lang, and Austin Heitzman each provided a unique piece of work drawing inspiration from a Frank Lloyd Wright home. In this groundbreaking unedited conversation, hear intense discussion about process and control as an artist, an artist’s ingrained default responses to design, and how to face and wrestle with artistic challenges. For more information on the LAB project, click here.
Julian Voss-Andreae is a modern sculptor of paramount proportions. His work touches on his background in physics and his life growing up in another country–both factors that have tremendously influenced his style and curiosity. From the shape of a bioluminescent protein to quantum physics extrapolated into artistic form, he’s an innovator in the modern art movement. In this episode of Asymmetry, he joined Ryan for a deep dive on sculpture, form, his own work, and how bonsai can occupy a space in modern art.
In this episode of Asymmetry, meet the new members of the Mirai team–the folks behind the scenes producing the Mirai Live stream, videos, blog posts, and answering your every email. Ryan & the team sit down for a post-work hangout and discuss first jobs, interests both in and outside bonsai, and generally get to know each other better. We promise you'll learn something new about every member of the team.
After two cross-country trips together, and several podcasts in between, Ryan and Lime sit down to catch up. They discuss a vast variety of topics, including but not limited to quality socks, a 360 degree view of a tree through an augmented reality headset, Lime’s venture into bonsai ceramics, and more.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan sits down with Telperion Farms owner Chris Kirk and his collaborator Gary Woods to dive into the intricacies of field-grown bonsai material. They discuss the nuances of timing, preparing the material before it’s planted in the field, adding movement, pruning while in the field, and generally maximizing the field environment to create the best bonsai material possible. If you have questions about field-grown material or are thinking of cultivating your own bonsai material, this episode is a must-listen.
On this episode of Asymmetry, join Ryan and a group of longtime Mirai students--most recently part of our Advanced Elongating Species class--for a discussion that gets deep into what it means to practice bonsai. This group has a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge in all their chosen endeavors, and this episode digs into the cerebral aspects that each student pulls from their life into their bonsai practice. It’s an instrumental conversation on evolving the idea of what it means to speak bonsai on a higher level, look at bonsai with more mature eyes, and what it means to be a practitioner without the obligations of being a professional.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan dialogues with David Segal, an Australian bonsai professional and longtime friend of Mirai. Their conversation is a powerful one: they tackle the tough questions a bonsai practitioner must ask when looking to use bonsai to represent one’s environment and culture. They discuss Australian bonsai going through growing pains to find its voice, utilizing native species, and the Australian National Bonsai Collection in Canberra’s evolution. Though this episode gets serious, as with any episode of Asymmetry, there’s plenty of laughs shared as well.
In part two of this episode, join Ryan & Lime for the second half of their cross-country journey home from the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, NY. On this leg of the journey, they stop in Denver to take in a bit of the local bonsai culture. They also cross the Rocky Mountains–the backbone of America–which catalyzes some interesting conversations on the weather, driving for a living, and of course, bonsai.
In part one of this two-part episode of Asymmetry, ride along with Ryan & Lime on a cross-country journey coming home to Portland from the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, NY. They recap the National Exhibition and discuss their thoughts on the show, along with delving into the evolution and future of American and Canadian bonsai.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan sits down with Sara Rayner, noted and revered bonsai ceramicist, to discuss the impact her work has had on American bonsai. When she began her ceramics career, her work was considered controversial: her work has a distinctive, strong aesthetic in contrast to quieter, more traditional Japanese work. When you see a Sara Rayner pot, you know it’s a Sara Rayner pot. In this conversation, understand the impact Sara’s work has had not only in the world of ceramics, but in the world of bonsai.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan sits down with Bill Valavanis, founder of the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition. Bill's bonsai career spans 50 years, with countless publications to his name. Ryan & Bill explore deep questions for the world of bonsai: can traditional forms satiate a practitioner throughout their career? Where is bonsai headed in the United States, and what does that western influence mean for the art form? Where is bonsai headed in the world at large? This is a true meeting of the minds: two artists who have made a career and a life with their bonsai practice, exploring this historic art from different perspectives, and guiding the future of bonsai.
Kendall is a writer, digital producer, and developer for Mirai - the voice behind the Mirai Live cameras asking all your questions. In this podcast, Ryan, Lime, & Kendall chit-chat absurdities.
Longtime student and friend of Mirai Live, Adam Johnson, sits down with Ryan and Lime to get real about their hopes, aspirations, and fears involved in creating and working with living material, the challenges of using trees as a commodity, and how they are incredibly hyped on shinpaku junipers.
Todd Schlafer is a bonsai professional based in Colorado. In this episode of Asymmetry, Todd sits down with Ryan for another podcast in which they discuss the realities of being a practicing bonsai professional in the United States, and how the trees continue to refuel their creative fire.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan engages in a discussion with his advanced class students. This is one of the largest podcast sessions to date, including some of Mirai's longest-standing supporters: Todd Schlafer, Will Kerns, Bill Cadman, and Eric Schikowski. Each of them shares personal anecdotes, their relationships with the practice of bonsai, and experiences with personal mentors.
Ryan and Lime sit down and discuss bonsai, personal inspirations, soccer, and the complexities of life.
Ryan and Lime sit down with long time friend of Mirai and renowned woodworker, Austin Heitzman. In this episode Austin shares some insight into his professional background/practice, intriguing anecdotes, and personal philosophies.
Ryan sits down with the incredibly talented fabricator and friend of Mirai, Oscar Eisenschmidt. Oscar is the designer/fabricator behind the innovative monumental structures present in many of Ryan's exhibitions such as the Artisans Cup, Unbridled, and Spectrum. Oscar shares details about his eclectic background, inspirations and how they have led him to where he is today.
Maliea Chiem is a bonsai professional based in of Portland, Maine. In this podcast, Ryan and Maliea dive into bonsai practice in Maine and explores the value of a strong community to support creative endeavors.
Ryan sits down with the Rob Arps and his team from Form 3D Foundry. An innovative studio that specializes in large-scale 3D printing, sculpture, 3D scanning, and the integration of modern technologies and traditional methodologies. They discuss Form's approach and process and their personal inspirations within their practice.
Dennis Vojtilla has been cultivating bonsai for over 40 years. He is well known for his deciduous work, and the unique use of grape vines for bonsai. In this podcast, Ryan, Lime & Dennis discuss his approach to bonsai and the complex world of grape-growing.
Vytas Andriuškevičius is a Lithuanian footballer who plays as a left back for the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer. In this podcast, Vytas and the Mirai team dig into life as a professional soccer player, get deep with human design, and Vytas shares his perspective on the world of bonsai.
Ryan and Lime sit down with two prominent and beloved figures in the world of bonsai, Bob Laws and Lee Cheatle. They discuss their own experiences within bonsai, the origins and development of BSOP (Bonsai Society of Portland), and their personal backgrounds.
Steve and Dan - the Backcountry Boys - are well-known collectors and bonsai lovers from Wyoming. In this podcast, Ryan and the Backcountry Boys talk about their beginnings with bonsai, their ethics around collecting from the wild, and a harrowing tale of being stalked by a mountain lion.
In this podcast, the Mirai team travelled to Israel to meet with Ofer Grunwald, curator of the Jerusalem Botanical Garden’s bonsai collection and a bonsai practitioner himself. We go deep into Israeli bonsai, the world of visual arts, and their relationship with bonsai as an artform as we move forward.
In this podcast, Peter Warren graces the Mirai team with his presence, wit, and wisdom as we discuss the up's and down's of being a bonsai professional, varying work approaches, and appreciating the bonsai moments that make it all worthwhile.
Aarin Packard is the curator of the Pacific Bonsai Museum, an institution outside of Seattle that is dedicated to providing a space for the public to experience and appreciate the incredible art of bonsai. In this podcast, Ryan, Lime, and Aarin discuss the legacy of PBM, the thoughtful programs on the horizon, and how he, as a curator, continues to creatively advance and showcase the tenants of what has become known as, the 'American Bonsai Movement.'
Jonathan Cross is a sculptor and ceramic artist working out of the small desert community, Twentynine Palms, California. Jonathan's work is known for bold, geometric forms taking cues from science fiction, geology, and a sort of ancient architecture. In this podcast, Ryan and Jonathan sit down to discuss inspirations, the artistic process, and the ceramic body.
Wiring is one of the most important techniques that bonsai practitioners learn. It is a meditative puzzle, a fully immersive practice of being present with your hands, the tree, and the design. In this podcast, Ryan, Troy, and Lime sit down to discuss the struggle and process of wiring - how it forces you to grow as an artist.
Todd Schlafer is a musician, graphic designer and bonsai aficionado from the Rockies who recently quit his corporate job to pursue bonsai professionally. As is a long-time friend and student of Mirai - in this podcast, Todd, Ryan and Lime sit down for some real talk on what it truly looks like to pursue bonsai fulltime at a professional, sustainable level.
Randy Knight is a world-renowned yamadori collector hailing from St. Helens, OR. In this podcast, the Mirai team talks with Randy about his origins in bonsai and the collecting process. He shares some wisdom and experiences from over 17 years in the mountains searching for the best wild bonsai material in North America, if not the world.
Ryan, Troy, and Lime sit down to discuss the wide world of "the container." They touch on some of their favorite potters/ceramic artists, what it means to truly innovate in the medium as it relates to bonsai, ways they personally experiment when using ceramics, the history of the ceramic form and its relationship with bonsai.
John Yoshio Naka was an American horticulturist, teacher, author, and master bonsai cultivator. He is known as the Father of American Bonsai, spreading the knowledge of this practice to a burgeoning community in the United States. In this podcast, Ryan, Troy, and Lime sit down to discuss John Naka's contribution to the world of bonsai, the path of a beginner practitioner, and continuing the raise the level of American Bonsai practice in Naka's wake.
Ricardo is a Japanese photographer born in Paraguay, schooled at RISD, and now the man behind the videographic magic of Mirai Live. In between wandering through ancient Italian olive orchards and driving along the Amalfi Coast, Ryan and Ricardo take some time to digest the broad concept of ‘art’ - it’s consideration, appreciation, and creation - and then bring it all back to bonsai as the ultimate creative endeavor.
Colton, Troy, Ryan & Lime take a trip down to one of the best bonsai growing operations in the country, Telperion Farms. We start off with Colton Vick, native Texan and the man behind Mirai operations. They dive into Colton's history, his passion for barbecue, and the Lone Star State. Troy and Lime then dig into the world of field-growing bonsai - how to select the top 10% of material and navigating the 'pyramid' of opportunity.
Masahiko Kimura is one of the most famous bonsai professionals in the world, one who has truly pushed the technique and concept of bonsai as we know it today. In this podcast, Ryan, Troy & Lime sit down in the studio to discuss the history behind Kimura’s most famous works, the dynamics of bonsai in Japan, stories of the apprentices and Kimura’s overall evolution as an artist. Follow along in the book, The Magician: The Bonsai Art of Kimura, to reference the images and trees being discussed.
The sound engineer for Mirai Live & resident Timbers enthusiast, Lime is one of the most colorful personalities on the Mirai Team. In this podcast, Lime & Ryan talk big-wall climbing in Yosemite, the life of a nuclear engineer in the Navy & how bonsai has the power to change lives.
The Mirai team recaps from a recent trip down to California where they visited the most ancient trees on the planet, witnessed avant-garde ceramic artist, Jonathan Cross, wood-firing his kiln, and scrambled through the otherworldly landscape of Joshua Tree.
Ron Lang is a celebrated ceramic artist, sculptor, and long-time bonsai geek who has a unique perspective on the bonsai vessel. The team sits down with Lang for a heated breakdown on what makes a bonsai a bonsai, and pushing limits with the ceramic body.
Juan Andrade is a bonsai professional hailing originally from Costa Rica, now based in Florida, who recently finished a bonsai apprenticeship in Japan. In this episode, the Mirai crew discusses Andrade's roots with bonsai - his apprenticeship, collecting epiphytes in the Costa Rican jungle, and where he thinks bonsai is headed.
Peter Warren joins the Mirai team in the studio for an unfiltered discussion on bonsai in the UK, why suiseki isn't just 'rocks' and how bonsai explains universal physics.
In this inaugural podcast, we dive into the history behind the creation of Bonsai Mirai, and the core players that make this business happen. This is the first of many podcasts to come, where guests from all over the world will gather to explore the medium of bonsai as an avenue to connect nature, culture, and the individual.