Making a Clay Bonsai Pot Part 1

Making a Clay Bonsai Pot, Part 1, The Bonsai Zone, Feb 2022

I love all the different things you try on this channel in the name of bonsai 🌱 I think so many good things come from trying things without any pressure to do them perfectly and correctly, and as someone who has done ceramics many years I loved seeing you work without any of that pressure.

hi everyone nigel saunders here last time i was at isabella’s i made a clay bonsai pot and she gave me some clay to take home with me to fool around with and maybe make something so today i’m going to turn the greenhouse here into a pottery studio and try making some items out of clay i’m going to start by wiping down my work surface here so it’s nice and clean and dust free so i can roll up the clay you don’t want all the dust and dirt getting into your clay it’ll i don’t know could affect the firing maybe that’s looking much better i’ll get the clay out and i’ll work it into a nice consistent ball of clay and then i’ll start the sculpting [Applause] there it is wow so this is a gray clay and after it’s fired it turns this really nice kind of light tan color yeah it’s really really quite a nice color so you can see there’s all kinds of air pockets in here that i’ve gotta squeeze and make the clay homogeneous so there’s no cracks or voids or anything and then i can i’m going to make the pot uh subtracting it so i’m going to start with a big blob and then i’m going to cut it away until i get a pot at least that’s i think how i’ll do it i don’t know maybe i’ll join the feed on i don’t know and i don’t really have a pot design in mind i trimmed all my fingernails uh i last time i was making a pot if you have even a slight bit of fingernail you always get these fingernail marks in the in your clay when you’re smoothing it out so i trim them all back you can see you know if you stretch it sometimes you get some voids opening up so you got to make sure it’s all closed up properly now i gotta start thinking about what kind of pot i want to make um you know do i want to roll this out like a slab yeah you can see all the cracks in it if there want to kind of pinch it to shape and then refine it or you know i could build like a a pot maybe that’s what i want to do now i think i’m gonna need i don’t think i’ll pinch this i think i’ll start carving it with some cutting tools in that that’ll work out okay and i can yeah i want to make something fancy if i can fancy kind of pot i notice there’s one area of the clay here that’s a little drier than the other parts it’s kind of a little more leathery just put a little bit of water in that area that might soak in and kind of make it a little a little more consistent so you can see i’m starting to get a pot shape um i don’t want it square like this i want it rectangular so i’m thinking i’m thinking this will be the length me make it a little longer here like that my width i’m going to have to take some material off here and a bit off here like that get that into a ball i don’t want to narrow a rectangle but i don’t want it you know too square either it’s got to look just kind of right i’m sure there’s a magic proportion there somewhere that looks just right i have this pot which is a nice proportion so i can use that as my inspiration for the proportions because that looks that looks really nice that one so i’m getting pretty close to that shape yeah that’s that’s looking pretty good all right let me uh i’m going to just thin down the sidewalls here like that turn it around thin down my sidewall here and then i’m going to try and smooth it out taking some of the excess off that’s better you can see i’m a little thin in this corner so i’m going to build that up that’s looking better at least the bottom just just a little saggy at the moment so i’m just working on getting the the bottom of the pot flat and an even thickness much easier if you roll it out in slabs but yeah we’ll try this method i’m just kind of roughing out the shape now you know the wall thickness and still very crude at the moment so i think the secret will be to slowly refine the shape as the clay gets harder try my butter knife out here yeah it does something this greenhouse sure makes a nice pottery studio it’s very peaceful out here all right we need more squaring up now it’s getting a little floppy making some progress i mean it’s starting to look like a container pretty rough old one but you know i’ll try and refine it i think i’ve got to get a height for my lip and to do that i need something that’s the right height that i can slide around like this ruler is too short i need something about that height that i could trim off the top so let me look around for something that looks like the right height doesn’t it okay so i need a knife all right i’ve got my my japanese knife so i’m going to try i don’t know i think i can just use the blunt end of it and just kind of slice in here maybe maybe maybe something like like that kind of gets a consistent height turn it around do this this face like that now we got to think about a lip am i going to have a lip on this pot i think so lips always look kind of nice in the pot so i’m going to roll it out i’ll roll out a snake and then i’ll drape it on the top and attach it i’ll just put this wet cloth on top of the piece oops there’s a leaf in there yeah i’ll put that over just to keep it you know kind of moist while i’m waking working on this snake reminds me of making that that to prom temple you know all the plaster scene pieces for making the cement molds it was a fun project i enjoyed doing that i have to get back to it get it finished get a tree planted on the temple that’ll be so cool now how am i doing i can go a little over halfway around this is still way too thick i don’t want that thick a lip on this pot well that’s a pretty long snake let’s try that so we’ll try attaching it i’ll join it in the corner yeah this might work why not now we gotta make sure that is in good contact oh i did have enough to do the whole piece wow that is cool all right well that’s kind of my lip now i’ve got to really make sure it’s attached properly now i’m going to start integrating it in with the inside of the pot here kind of getting the two joined together yeah that’s working okay okay so the lip is kind of integrated i think i’ve got to do a bit of leveling too now i’m just trying to trim up these this overhang my lip trying to get something that looks neat so i’m kind of making it the thickness of the ruler yeah sort of like that a subtle lip but there well it’s slowly looking better and it is starting to harden a little on the top here it’s starting to get a little more kind of leather-like so i better keep refining it as the clay’s toughening up i’m trying to get the details refined getting everything trued up it’s difficult because it’s still quite floppy at the moment but i’m just working away trying to get all those details nice i don’t know if i’ll ever get it too straight and true but uh i’ll get it the best i can anyway the pot is getting stiffer you can see the the sidewalls aren’t as floppy anymore so i’m starting to like really trying to refine the shape smoothing it out getting rid of any lumps and bumps and tricky work but you know the finishing is the important part it’s what really makes the pot look good it’s got a bit of a chamfer at the bottom and when it stiffens up enough i can flip it over and add the feet that may be you know a while maybe not even until tomorrow yeah so just working away at it you know both inside and out i don’t want the inside to be ugly and bumpy and lumpy so i’m trying to smooth it out too the clay as it toughens up is really nice to work with it’s kind of firm there’s a like a perfect working consistency and it’s just really nice so that was getting quite nice it’s a lot more trim and slim this one now i’ll just move the pot over to the edge here like that maybe just move it in a bit i can start at the bottom scrape away come up the middle the clay is getting to the point where i’m starting to be able to polish it when you rub it it gets really smooth and polished i still got a little shape refining to go but getting down to kind of the details now you know making sure my lip is all consistent it’s getting there it’s very close to you know the final shape just still doing little finishing details and getting everything squared up on my corner sharp and you know little details but it’s coming along i think it’s looking quite nice i’ve got to decide what kind of feed i want on it if i want fancy feed or i think i do want fancy feet that’ll be fun here’s a look at the pot now i added a a groove using my root rake i just ran it along underneath the lip just to kind of define it a little more i think that really it’s very subtle but it really adds just a little finishing touch to it it’s strong enough now that i’m going to flip it over and start working on the bottom so i can smooth out the bottom get my chamfer you know all correct check all my sides make sure they’re nice and square so here i go now i’m just going to check all my sides make sure they’re good and square they’re looking pretty good i got to redo my chamfer the sun is setting on another day so here’s the look at the pot it’s getting quite tough the the clay on it now it’s kind of i can pick it up it doesn’t distort or anything so that’s it it’s not perfect but you know it’s i think it’s quite nice i wouldn’t say i don’t know i could spend more hours finishing it you always can however so i’ve gotta i’ve gotta drill my drainage holes in here or put them in and i’ve got to attach the feet and that’s going to have to wait until tomorrow so i’m still kind of finishing the inside i want it to look nice on the inside and the outside it’s getting close i’m starting to kind of polish it more you can kind of polish the clay so it almost becomes glossy yeah so that’s the pod i’ve got to get some fancy feet for it and i think you know that’ll be nice some lucky tree will go in the pot i’ve got a hole saw it’s for cutting holes in wood i was going to try that to put the holes in the bottom of the pot so i’ve got to lay them out i was thinking originally i thought maybe two holes but now i’m thinking four i think what this size four would be just about right so i’ve got to lay them out so that’s about five centimeters from the edge and it’s almost five there too i guess that would be right maybe to be too close together i’m trying to think here five would bring it here yeah it looks a little too close together so i’ve got to bring it in closer so maybe four and a half yeah that’ll look better four and a half it’s right there and five in from the right edge there okay so here i go i’m going to put the hole in the bottom i hope this works i’ll just twist it around okay there we go there’s my plug out i’ll have to get that out with the root rake my multi-purpose tool there we go okay so there’s my plug out i will have to finish those holes so let’s say up the next one now it’s going to be about here so i want to come in four and a half right yeah four and a half and five so maybe more right there i think that’s pretty good i’m just kind of looking visually too i think that’ll work okay here i go hole number two is in i’ll flip it over i’ll just shave away any material that’s come through round them off a bit i was going to put my signature in but i think i’m going to wait because i’ll be working on this pot tomorrow and i don’t want to every time i flip it over i think it’ll damage the signature so i’m going to wait till i get my feet attached tomorrow and then i’ll sign it and put a date on it and that will be that yeah i could definitely take a little more material off the center here when you’re making a pot from slabs you kind of know your wall thicknesses but when you’re kind of just molding it out of one piece it’s kind of hard to determine how thick it is on the bottom until you get these holes in and then you can kind of see so overnight i’ll leave a a wet cloth on top not wet but damp and you know the temperature is really cooling down on the greenhouse here now it’s 12 degrees celsius or 54 degrees fahrenheit so you know it’s pretty cool the pot should stay quite moist and humid for working on tomorrow and then we’ll start the drying process we slowly dry it over many many days or weeks until it’s ready for firing and i don’t think i’ll put a glaze on this but i don’t know maybe i will i might look nice the pot will be a tan color so i don’t know what glaze would look best maybe a white glaze usually the tan pots have a white glaze on them well that’s definitely thinning out the middle here and it’s getting hard to see the sun has set and i’ve got to finish my work i think i’m done for today yes i am done for today i’ve got to stop touching it okay i think it’s looking quite good nice little pot i will cover it up now with my damp cloth and that’ll be it for tonight that was way too much fun today making this pot out of clay i really enjoyed the day and i had a beautiful sunny day it was so nice i’m kind of sad to see the day end and the light go down but that’ll be it for today i’m nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone you

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