Biographical Information: Adam Holden makes pots in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures from classical shapes and free form designs. His glazes showcase drips and runs in a variety of interesting color combinations. Pots of his have even been known to be constructed of stainless steel!
The meaning behind using the Thunderbird as his chop: Thunderbird is the Creator, Destroyer and Controller of Nature and must be honored and appeased at all cost. This is where we see a connection to rain as the Thunderbird is the bringer of life-giving waters (so agriculture may thrive and provide to the tribe).
Location: Montgomery City, MO
Website: No website, but contact info is email@example.com
Biographical Information: Award-winning, ceramicist Ben L. Gutman has been potting for well over a decade (with a few interruptions—for moving across the country and starting a family). He began studying pottery on the campus of UC Berkeley (where he was studying Plant Biology), at the ASUC Studio. He has continued his study in Washington, DC at the Guy Mason Center, and is currently in residence as a Community Artist at District Clay Center. While he still works on a mix of projects and in a variety of styles, in the last few years, merging pottery with his interest in plants, he has focused on making hand-made bonsai pots..
Biographical Information: Late 2017 he took a pottery class at an adult Ed program and was immediately hooked. Plus he needed lots of pots for the ever increasing number of trees he kept bringing home. Having been born with a pencil and spending the last 20 years tattooing professionally, the creative element was already there. Playing heavy with organic textures and everything from wheel thrown to slab built it seems as if his wares were dug up from a ancient civilization, maybe not even one from earth…
Biographical Information: Charlie Parker’s ceramic career began in 1967, at the age of 14 when he joined Minnesota Clay Company as a part time clay mixer.
From 1971 to 1975 Charlie studied with Warren Westerberg at Westerberg Pottery in Minneapolis. During his apprenticeship with Westerberg, he focused on form and expression. While working with Westerberg, Charlie’s interest in glaze application and firing technique was refined.
In 1996, Charlie partnered with Russ Gustafson-Hilton and Stan Cowen to establish St. Petersburg Clay Company. St. Pete Clay began as a small clay studio with 12 members, a ceramic supply store and gallery.
In 2002, St. Pete Clay moved to a new 33,000 square foot location in the historic Seaboard Coastline Train Depot.
Through his experience Mr. Parker has established himself in the clay community as both an artist and educator. In November 2010 Charlie left St. Pete Clay in order to fulfill his life long dream of owning his own studio, Charlie Parker Pottery.
Charlie has received numerous awards, including an award of excellence, two awards of merit and several purchase awards at CraftART; the annual art show sponsored by Florida Craftsmen.
In 2002, Charlie won a purchase award of merit at the 49th annual Florida Craftsmen juried members show for a covered jar, a piece which was also published in Ceramics Monthly 2002 Summer issue.
Biographical Information: All Chuck Iker pots are wheel thrown and hand built using a custom mix of stoneware clay.His work is influenced by a 20 year background in functional and artistic pottery in addition to a decade’s long appreciation for bonsai. All pots are signed, numbered, and catalogued. The first two numbers represent the year the pot was produced and the last three numbers are the series for that year’s body of work.
His private studio is located at his home in Southeast Ohio along the East Fork River. Having his own studio space and equipment allows him the greatest freedom to create. He fires his kiln several times a month, so there is always a nice selection of pots to choose from.
Biographical Information: Dale Cochoy began studying bonsai in 1978 and has been constructing handmade, one of a kind bonsai pots for over 15 years. In 2002 Dale renamed the pottery portion of his bonsai business “Yakimono no Kokoro” (Heart of Fired Things) because he felt it better represented the essence of his craft.
In 2001, Dale earned second place in the “modern category” in the National Bonsai Foundation’s First North American Bonsai Pot Competition. He also featured a bonsai container in the “From the Hands Of” bonsai pottery display in the 2005 World Bonsai Convention in Washington, D.C.
Biographical Information: Dan Laxdall is a mostly self-taught potter living on Puget Sound, just south of Seattle. Dan originally made bonsai pots for his personal use and later began to sell limited quantities to local club members and nurseries. Dan’s pots are all fully vitreous stoneware fired at either cone 6 in an electric kiln (usually glossy glazes) or cone 10 in a gas kiln (usually matte or satin matte finishes). Many of the clays Dan works with contain significant quantities of metals and produce heavily speckled glazes. Many of Dan’s unglazed containers are made from coarse, heavily grogged clays and are given an oxide finish. The majority of his work is done on a potter’s wheel, though some pots are slab built. Mame size containers are sometimes slip cast.
Biographical Information: Daniel is a renaissance man, with a degree from Johns Hopkins Medical School in medical illustration. He is also a sculptor, painter, and landscape designer. He combines his artistic talents with precision to produce artistically unique bonsai pottery. His pieces are made from a sculptural clay body formulated to withstand the outdoor elements and are wood fired to cone 11.
Biographical Information: David Bennett began his career in art while studying for his bachelor of fine art degree at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 1976 with a concentration in furniture design and sculpture. The years after graduating Edinboro were spent in the fields of boatbuilding and woodcarving. In 1986, he established Falls Run Woodcarving, primarily as a custom carving shop and woodcarving school which spawned a “how-to” book and video. In 1991, he began manufacturing carving tools which later became Flexcut Tool Co. Inc.
After retiring in 2008 his focus was allowed to return to bonsai which he has been doing since 1987. He had studied pottery while attending Edinboro in the 70’s and saw this as a new creative outlet for his art. In 2013 he enrolled once again for further classes. Today his pieces are strictly hand-built from slabs with many designs inspired by historical European and American art movements. Currently, his pottery has limited output as only fall and winter are spent producing pots while spring and summer are consumed by creating bonsai.
Biographical Information: David is a full time chef and has been making pottery as a hobby for the last several years. He recently relocated from Vermont to Maine with his wife and three kids. David primarily focuses on producing shohin, mame, and accent pots.
Biographical Information: A native of the Pacific NW, David George has been interested in bonsai since the early 70’s. He made his first bonsai pots in 1990 while stationed in Hawaii, under the tutelage of Esther Shimazu. Esther is a well-known ceramic sculptor who was working at the local craft center at the time, and who occasionally made “planters” for her mother’s bonsai.
David initially attempted to copy classic Japanese forms, but soon decided to follow a more “American” aesthetic, inspired by Dan Robinson, Nick Lenz, among others. More recently, he has been influenced by potters in England, Germany, and indeed, by many of the ceramic artists listed on this website. Of course, he still greatly admires the beauty and quality of Japanese ceramics.
Mostly self-taught, David’s work is characterized by its diversity: in style, method of production, size, and surface treatments. He claims that he is easily bored and doesn’t like making the same pot twice. Being retired, he can make what he wants when he wants. Indeed, his small gas kiln is only fired once or twice a year. His current fascination is gestural face pots, again a nod to Nick Lenz, and perhaps subconsciously, Zeshin.
Biographical Information: Dean Bulluck is a potter in eastern North Carolina. His love of bonsai led him to begin working in ceramics in 2016, focusing on hand built and slab built bonsai pots. Currently most of his work is wood fired, although he occasionally fires pots in a gas kiln. He prefers wood firing in an anagama or in a salt kiln, which he fires in teams with other ceramic artists in the local wood firing community. The majority of his pots are made with locally sourced North Carolina clays and wild clays collected throughout North Carolina.
Biographical Information: By profession Debbie is a hand therapist. She treat many patients with a wide variety of hand injuries. However, her passion centers on her hobby, pottery. Hence the name”Hand and Heart Ceramics”. Her studio is in the basement of her house and her kiln and glazing equipment fill up half of the garage. She works primarily in Cone 6 Electric and has developed a palette of colorful glazes. Her work is primarily functional stoneware. She sells at local craft shows during the summer and fall. She loves it when people come up to talk to her about her pottery and my glazes. She especially loves to hear from repeat customers about how much they love and use what they purchased before.Her husband loves bonsai, and she started to make pottery for his collection, taking round shapes and altering them to oval. She especially loves the earthy toned glazes that she has developed for bonsai pottery.Her work is available through Chase Roasade and other bonsai studios or at her website.
Biographical Information: Diane Thoman has been making pottery at her studio White Horse Pottery, in Western Colorado, for over thirty years. Most of her pottery is hand thrown on a pottery wheel, occasionally she has a piece that is hand built using coils of clay or slabs of clay. She mixes and formulates her own clay and glaze recipes from their raw materials, which allows her the ability to experiment with many different types of clays and glazes.
Biographical Information: Don Gould produced bonsai pots back in the 1990’s and, after a short break, returned to making pots several years later. Unfortunately he passed away in 2006, but his pottery lives on in many collections. His study of ancient Chinese and Japanese ceramics is evident in his pottery construction and glazing techniques. Don’s pots often have interesting glazes and textures and tend to be heavy. During his second “phase” of making bonsai pots he employed computer-generated design techniques to produce more uniform pots. Don’s pots can be easily identified by the centrally-located keystone shape drain hole.
Biographical Information: Dorie Froning was a well known bonsai artist specializing in mame and shohin size plants. She co-founded the Brandywine Bonsai Society and became President of the American Bonsai Society. Froning presented workshops around the country and was the first foreign woman to view the Japanese Emperor’s bonsai collection. She was a particular expert in shohin bonsai, with trees from her collection currently displayed at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. and at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA.
Biographical Information: Doris Ogg began working many years ago as a painter, but the moment she touched clay her life changed, and Doris is currently creating art using only clay, colored slips, and glazes. Doris taught art and ceramics for about forty years at the public schools, then at the college and university level, and was a Fulbright Hays scholar. Her current focus is on making sculptural pieces, sometimes including stained glass, but she began making bonsai pots about two years ago. Doris acknowledges her bonsai pots are non-traditional in appearance since she uses relief images and textures. She views them as mini sculptures which satisfies some design need in her artistic expression. Since this was a new venture for Doris, she was ecstatic to have one of my pots selected for the 2015 National Bonsai Exhibition in Washington, D.C. That particular pot, and most of her bonsai designs, have been influenced by vintage Vietnamese and Chinese bonsai pots whose surfaces were covered with intricately carved or painted images.
Currently, and in the foreseeable future, Doris plans to continue making bonsai pots to please herself, and she would like to think that sometime, somewhere, a visually inspired bonsai artist will see one of her non-traditional pots and view it as necessary for a cohesive design of plant and pot.
Biographical Information: Malofiy was a bonsai enthusiast in the Philadelphia area. He was not associated with any of the local clubs and was self-taught in the art of bonsai. He then started making his own pots, again, self-taught to great effect. Most of his pots are large, being in the 12-20″ range. Many of his pots were auctioned at an estate sale by Pennsylvania Bonsai Society in 2008.
Biographical Information: Bonsai guru, nurseryman, bonsai potter, and philosopher, Gary makes bonsai pots which are almost all sold pre-order wholesale to bonsai businesses. Occasionally he will sell some of his pots to friends and to workshop participants.
Biographical Information: I attended Colorado State University as a graphics major. During my time at CSU, I was lucky enough to get a job at school managing the student ceramics studio. What an opportunity; getting paid to play with clay. Over the years I had an on and off relationship with pottery, largely due to studio availability. As a bonsai enthusiast and an artist with an insatiable need to try new things, I turned my hand at making my own pots, in the early years with varying degrees of success.
Today I am back in the studio, a lot oder and a little wiser, and applying decades of bonsai experience to creating pots. I love classical Japanese and Chinese forms, and like putting a modern spin on them. The vast majority of my pots are slab built. Although a challenging way to build containers, I prefer it because you see the artist’s hand that slab building gives (and it sure is hard to throw a rectangular pot on the wheel). Making pots has brought my awareness to the importance of the container in the bonsai composition. I want my pots to compliment the trees they support, but also stand on their own aesthetically.
I look at creating bonsai containers as a way to explore and play with form. I am branching out to more contemporary expression with my work, and always trying to stretch my skills by experimenting with more challenging shapes, new techniques and larger sizes. I currently live and work amongst the trees of the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Biographical Information: Jack Bacus began practicing bonsai in 1980. Sometime after he studied ceramics to learn to make his own bonsai pots. Jack produced pots with unique designs and liked to call them “Jackpots”.
Biographical Information: Jack has been a potter for over 40 years. In 1996 he met a bonsai master, Suthin, who inspired him. Soon thereafter Jack started growing and collecting trees. While largely self-taught, Jack had the good fortune to study under a number of masters. In 1997 he purchased a potter’s wheel and kiln and began making pottery. Jack has since won numerous awards with local nurseries and clubs. In addition to making pottery, he lectures on bonsai, bonsai carving, and styling. Since 2009 Jack has devoted himself to bonsai full-time, working on pots and trees, which includes a few Nick Lenz trees.
Biographical Information: James Robertson has been a potter for over 40 years. He has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Brigham Young University. James spent 13 years teaching pottery and other art courses at Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, CO. Currently he works as a potter, ceramics instructor, and manager of studio and store at Ceramics Supply in Salt Lake City, UT.
Biographical Information: Jarod Kearney is an museum curator, actor, photographer, and potter known for playing Luigi in the world wide hit web series “Mario Warfare”, Eros in Plan 9, and many others. He is a highly regarded photographer known for his unique conceptional style. He is a museum curator by day, and enjoys making pottery for bonsai artists across the country. His unique pottery pieces are noted for their creativity and conceptual style.
Biographical Information: “They are of earth, and of fire; and art.” Jay Strommen, best known for his gallery work and tea ceremony cups, has begun doing bonsai pots. For a show in 2000, Strommen noted that ceramics is akin to alchemy: a very working, tactile exploration of compounds, materials; and often uncertain results. In ceramics, the artist works with the essences thought by the alchemists to be fundamental: Earth and Air, Fire and Water. In his works, Earth and Fire forge their own marks of identity. The artist transmutes the elementals into an art of decay, persistence and renewal.
Biographical Information: Jim Barrett has been a featured speaker at many bonsai conventions and clubs and has worked for many bonsai associations. He is past president of Bonsai Clubs International, the first president of Golden State Bonsai Federation, the founding president of the Santa Anita Bonsai Society and currently serves on the American Bonsai Society’s board of directors. Always interested in ceramics, Jim has for the past three decades been making bonsai pots. Although known for his shohin and mini-pots, his main interest lies in making large containers modeled after Japanese- and Chinese-style pots.
Biographical Information: Jim Gremel is a well known bonsai potter and practitioner. In addition to bonsai pottery, Jim makes various other ceramic vessels that can be found throughout art galleries in the U.S. His nursery, Deer Meadow Bonsai, carries a variety of bonsai plant material and fantastic copper wire.
Location: 3700 Deer Meadow Lane, Occidental, CA 95465
Biographical Information: Joe Day is best known for making slabs from natural slate-like flagstone. Each slab is chiseled from a single piece of stone and the edges are hand ground and sanded to shape. Many of his slabs featured at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at the U.S. National Arboretum.
Biographical Information: Joel Sampson is primarily a self-taught potter who became interested in ceramics in high school. In 1989, Sampson began an apprenticeship with Richard Robertson of Rockport, ME. Specializing in ikebana, fountains, and illuminated sinks, examples of bonsai pottery by Sampson are very scarce.
Biographical Information: Artist, John Cannon of Paducah, KY first introduced to ceramics while attending school at Paducah School of Art and Design in the fall of 2013. Continuing his Fine Arts degree John got accepted as a ceramics major to the University of Southern Illinois. Focusing primarily on bonsai pottery since the spring of 2016 John creates wheel thrown, hand-built and sculptural pieces. Now volunteering as a studio technician at Paducah School of Art and Design John, creates his pottery at the school while operating the kiln yard along with fellow bonsai potter, Randy Davis; firing kilns and experimenting with firing schedules and types. Since working with clay John now travels the continental United States teaching bonsai pottery workshops in which attendees get to produce their very own bonsai pot.
Biographical Information: All Jonathan Cross ceramics are handmade using only stoneware clay. His organic, angular earth tone pots take cues from the scorched landscape of the harsh desert. He fires his vessels and sculptures using gas reduction, salt-fired, and wood fired techniques.
Biographical Information: Judy Sutton was a potter and art teacher in Delaware. When she died in the mid 1980’s, several hundred of her pots were sold to a local nursery and were available there until recently. Most of the pots recorded here are small, but she also did larger works.
Biographical Information: Kanehiro Hamajima was born in Okehazama Nagoya city in Japan. He came to the United States in 1972 and settled in the San Francisco Bay area.I came to US in 1972. Kanehiro’s interest in bonsai eventually inspired him to begin making shohin bonsai pottery.
Location: 635 North 13th Street,San Jose, CA 95112
Biographical Information: Kathy Boehme is a retired potter from Southern California that was prominent in the 1970’s and 80’s. During her pottery career she produced many expertly-made saikai and suibans for viewing stones in very wide and thin designs.
The last pot under the “examples of work” section starts with a crude clay box deeply incised vertically. Then a small hole is opened and a lit firecracker is dropped in and allowed to explode. The result blows the top open and expands the sides.
Biographical Information: Keith Taylor is known for his cracked pot design as well as his beautiful succulents that compliment one another so well. He began working with clay in 2007 to design pottery to pair with his succulents in shows. His work is very distinctive with unique textures and glazes that give a perfect pop to accents to pair with displayed bonsai.
Biographical Information: Ken To discovered his passion for bonsai in 2007. His pottery is distinctive for their miniature size and stunning, flowing glazes. He is also well known for his small wire tree sculptures resembling mame bonsai that fit perfectly in his tiny containers. He has a special eye for classical bonsai aesthetic that is represented in his work.
Biographical Information: While Kit Ruseau has only produced a small number of bonsai pots, her talent with clay is readily evident in her designs.This is further evidenced by her two 2nd place awards in the shohin style and accent/kusamono style pottery categories in the 2015 3rd National Juried Bonsai Pot Exhibition in Washington, D.C.
Biographical Information: Larry Bruning began making pottery while attending college in Colorado. Bruning Pottery was established in Seattle in 1983 and moved to its current home in Snohomish, WA in 2006. Judy and Larry Bruning teach weekly pottery class to 70 students at their shop.
Biographical Information: Linda has been a potter for the past 20 years, focusing on functional work. About six years ago, making bonsai containers caught her attention, and she has been learning, growing, and making bonsai pottery since then. She creates wheel thrown, hand built, and wheel thrown/altered work. Textures in the clay are often made with organic materials, handmade tools, or carving instruments. Linda makes all of her own glazes, firing in an electric kiln to cone 7 or 8. Her high fire stoneware is completely vitrified at that temperature. She lives in Western Michigan, but enjoys traveling in the United States and other countries. Other interests include fiber arts and surface design, watercolor painting, walking/hiking, and travel.
Biographical Information: Lynn August always had an interest in clay since childhood, but took her first ceramics class in her 40’s. After that class she never looked back. Now living in Asheville, NC, she is a full time potter who wakes up every day feeling grateful for her opportunity to shape clay. Lynn August’s pottery is all handmade and features clean lines with tasteful texturing and banding.
Biographical Information: Mark and Becky Hanner began pottery as an extension of their love for gardening, and have a ceramic studio behind their house and gardens. Retired from regular careers, they operate Stone Garden Pottery LLC, as a by-appointment, occasional event pottery endeavor. Members of Ann Arbor Bonsai Society, several Hosta societies, and succulent collectors, Mark and Becky’s pottery is geared toward these facets of gardening. Their pots are fired to a hot cone 6 and are vitrified.
Location: 10414 Oak Road,Otisville, MI 48463
Website: No website but contact firstname.lastname@example.org for inquired and commission work
Mark and Becky Hanner (Stone Garden Pottery, LLC)
Mark and Becky Hanner (Stone Garden Pottery, LLC)
Examples of Work
Photo Credit: Vance Wood
Photo Credit: Vance Wood
Photo Credit: Vance Wood
Photo Credit: Mark and Becky Hanner (Stone Garden Pottery, LLC)
Photo Credit: Mark and Becky Hanner (Stone Garden Pottery, LLC)
Photo Credit: Mark and Becky Hanner (Stone Garden Pottery, LLC)
Biographical Information: Mark Gordon received degrees in Physical Education and Philosophy from Oberlin and an MFA in Sculpture from Ohio State. He has worked in clay for over 40 years, beginning as a potter, wheelthrowing, and then expanding into modular assembled clay sculptures and mixed-media site-specific installations. His work is exhibited in national and international colleges, universities, art centers, and museums.
Mark has traveled to 21 countries to document claywork traditions throughout the Mediterranean, South America, and the Caribbean. Fluent in Spanish, he taught as a Fulbright Scholar in Argentina and has lectured in Caracas, Cairo, Damascus, Madrid, Jerusalem, Buenos Aires, Valencia, and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic). Gordon’s work has appeared in American Ceramics; Ceramics Monthly; The New York Times; American Craft; Clay Times: The Journal of Ceramic Trends and Technique; Revista Internacional Ceramica (Spain); and Ceramics: Art and Perception.
Since 1999, Mark has taught at Barton College in Wilson, North Carolina, where he is Associate Professor in the School of Visual, Performing, and Communication Arts.
Biographical Information: Mark Issenberg is a member of the Atlanta Bonsai Society and his hometown Tennessee Valley Bonsai Society. He has been making plant containers for years and is now concentrating on bonsai and kusamono containers. Mark has been firing his wood kiln and cone 10 reduction kiln to achieve the desired results in bonsai pottery.
Mark mixes his own clay using Lizella, fireclay, and ball clay to make a dark clay perfect for bonsai containers. In some batches he adds interesting materials like chicken grit and metal filings that melt at 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit marking the pots with inclusions.
Finally, the 3rd National Juried Bonsai Pot Exhibition presented in the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at the US National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. accepted 7 of Mark’s bonsai pots to be in the exhibition.
Location: 3005 Plum Nelly Road, Rising Fawn, GA 30738
Biographical Information: Martha was a former member of Brandywine Bonsai Society. She made very nice pots and a number of club members own them. She sold pots as Christmas Tree Potters, hence the tree chop.
Biographical Information: Matt Castle has been making pots for many years. He sold his first bonsai pots to New England Bonsai in Bellingham, MA in 1995 and has sold many pots to them through the years. He received his MFA degree in ceramics from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University in 1998 concentrating on a range of functional ceramics. Recently, Matt refocused his energies and has been completely dedicated to making bonsai pots for the last two years. Matt currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Biographical Information: Matthew Harhager went to the University of Akron were he earned a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering.
During one of many week long backpacking trips Matt noticed several trees that resembled bonsai. Shortly after returning home he bought my first bonsai tree and it soon perished. Matt then decided to obtain some knowledge through books, magazines, and videos before purchasing another bonsai. After several months he got a ficus and managed to keep it alive. Matt then attended several shows and was hooked by the bonsai bug.
After working on bonsai for quit some time Matt found myself admiring the pots and the artistry behind it. He was amazed at all the awesome and amazing techniques and colors of bonsai pots. Matt still is as we all are learning new objectives and techniques to style bonsai and make bonsai pots.
Biographical Information: Max Braverman began his pottery career in 1971 whenafter a year’s worth of night classes in wheel thrown pottery, he left the academic world to become a potter in Taos, NM where he founded Ranchos de Taos Pottery.
After five years in Taos he spent ten years in rural New Jersey, labeling his pots as “Delaware Pottery”. During this time, he met Chase Rosade and rekindled a long-held interest in bonsai. Later, Max and his wife moved to a quiet mountain valley north of Seattle, WA where Max focused solely on the production of bonsai containers. The pottery he produced from this period were labeled “Pine Garden Pottery”.
Biographical Information: Michael Hagedorn is a well known bonsai practitioner who studied under Japanese bonsai master Shinji Suzuki from 2003-2006. Unfortunately, Michael no longer produces bonsai pottery; however the magnificent bonsai trees he develops more than makes up for this. In the 1990’s, he made bonsai pottery under the name ‘Crataegus Bonsai Containers’. If you stumble upon one of these during your bonsai pottery wanderings – hold on to it!
Biographical Information: Their work is thrown on a potter’s wheel or hand built with slabs. The work is high fired in a gas kiln to get the rich earthy colors we enjoy. All of their work is high fired, vitrified (non-porous), made from stoneware and very durable.
Biographical Information: Mike is a nurseryman in Tulsa, Oklahoma during the warm months and does a very limited number of bonsai pots over the winter. The pots are not thrown, but rather, hand built and then lovingly hand burnished with a smooth river stone before being incised. Additionally, all of his pots contain imagery of the American Indians on the inside. He has lectured to local bonsai clubs in the area.
Biographical Information: Mike Viljak caught on to the pattern of safe cookie-cutter designs shortly after starting with bonsai about 15 years ago. Seeking to deviate from that he enrolled in a local ceramics class. Mike has since started his own small studio in his home in Orange County, CA.
When making bonsai pots, Mike enjoys the challenge of balancing a design that plays a supporting role and compliments the tree, while giving it unique personality.
It’s a narrow line to walk; like trying to be simultaneously interesting, yet quiet. Mike believes there’s a tree out there for every pot and that hopefully the 2 find each other. He aims to design pots with movement while having an earthly stability, minimal but with an aberration or two. For practicality, the drain holes are designed to make plastic mesh unnecessary.
Mike’s production is low and occasional, as he has a full time job and lots to do around the house, yard and of course, attending to the trees. Mike is a native plant enthusiast and a permaculture practitioner always trying to find sustainable ways to do stuff. Mike holds trees in very high regard.
Occasionally Mike will vend at local conventions when he can build up enough inventory and he was lucky enough to have the opportunity to vend at the Artisan’s Cup in Portland, OR in 2015; a humbled junior potter alongside masters such as Ron Lang and Sara Rayner.
Biographical Information: Ross Adams, Nate Knott, and Jason Bloom started Nitju Clayworks. Nate followed his heart back to Nebraska. Jason has turned his focus on his functional pottery business, Halfmoon Pottery. Ross is still at the pots and his bonsai trees. Nate’s pots are available from Ross Adams at Nitju Pottery, but they are a closed set because Nate is no longer doing bonsai pots.
Biographical Information: Perhaps one of the most prolific bonsai practitioners and potters in the United States, Nick Lenz is often loving referred to as a “crazy old hermit” who resides in Massachusetts. He is known for weird and wild bonsai compositions, often using containers and slabs he constructed himself. Many consider him to be the father of bonsai in the United States – he remains a pioneer in the hobby at the very least.
Nick Lenz capped his kiln several years ago and is no longer producing bonsai pottery. Examples of his work appear for sale from time to time, but most pieces are tucked away in private collections. The most sought after pieces are unusual or unconventional (such as pots with carved faces or free-form shapes) as well as painted landscapes.
Published Work: Bonsai From the Wild: Collecting, Styling, and Caring for Bonsai
Biographical Information: Nikki D’Amico has been practicing ceramics for 20 years. Her interests span from sculpture to utilitarian work. In 2006 she found her niche in creating unique bonsai pottery and started a small business creating custom pieces for clients throughout the United States and internationally. Nikki’s work strays from the usual bonsai pot but always ties in the importance of traditional bonsai pot design. Her pots have been featured as “Best in Show” at the International Bonsai Convention in Denver Colorado, the American Bonsai Society, the Brandywine Bonsai Society, and the Triangle Bonsai Expo at the JC Roulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC. For more information please go to: www.facebook.com/NikkiDamicoArtist or email her at Nikki@NikkiDamico.com
Biographical Information: Paul Olson began making bonsai pots in 2006 after realizing a need for containers for all his trees he acquired over the years. He purchased a second-hand kick wheel and vintage kiln and got to work. He’s been crafting quality handmade bonsai pots ever since. In addition to making bonsai pots, Paul is an Illustrator and Painter, a senior critic in the Illustration Department at the Rhode Island School of Design, and a Visiting Lecturer in the Illustration Department at the Massachusetts College of Art.
His bonsai pottery was featured at the 3rd National Juried Bonsai Pottery Exhibition at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. in 2015. One of his pieces earned a Second Place Award in the rectangle category.
Biographical Information: Pauline F. Muth began working on Shitukusa and Kusamono pottery in 2006. Her love of strange containers was depleting her pottery budget, so she began her study of pot creation. Today she creates pottery during the winter months and enjoys experimenting with the different clays, glazes, and types of kiln firing available. Pauline has a bonsai education studio that began in 1990 in West Charlton, NY. She has been actively involved in the bonsai world for 40 years and enjoys traveling the work because of bonsai.
Biographical Information: With organic shapes with earth tone colors, Peter Liekkio produces mini and accent pots. They are perfect for completing a bonsai display or planting a mame bonsai. His pots pull you in with interesting details, textures, and glazing.
Biographical Information: Randy Davis has been making bonsai containers for 3 years and works out of the Paducah School of Art and Design ceramic studio. He enjoys playing with new colorful glazes and fires his pots in electric, gas, soda and wood kilns. While new to the art of making containers, Randy has been making and writing about bonsai for 50 years.
Biographical Information: Randy Doughty began making pots in the mid-90’s at Penn State University. He started his ceramics career making wheel-thrown porcelain tableware. Randy’s focus is now producing classicallt-styled, quality handmade bonsai pots with clean lines and simple (yet interesting) glazes. He prefers the fire within the kiln to provide the subtle variations in his glazes.
Biographical Information: Rebecca has been throwing pottery for over six years now, and is becoming one of her favorite things to do. In addition to throwing bonsai pottery, she enjoys creating tableware, gardening, and decorative pieces. She also draws and paints – both traditionally, and recently digitally.
Biographical Information: Richard Robertson was an American potter who studied in Japan. His connection to things Japanese influenced all his work and enabled him to connect solidly to bonsai pottery. Richard lived with his wife Lynette in Rockport Maine, in a house they built themselves where they produced beautiful ceramics and raised their children.
Biographical Information: Richard “Sonny” Boggs is a writer living in Winston Salem, NC. He maintains a small pottery studio devoted to making bonsai and Penjing pots. As evidenced by his work, he loves to add sculpture to his pieces, often times in the form of dragons or frogs. His spectacular glowing glazes also gives his pieces a distinctive look.