Bonsai Mirai: Asymmetry

Bonsai Mirai

Bonsai Mirai is a company, a place, a practice, an ecosystem of creators. This is our outlet for discussion of all things bonsai and beyond.

All Episodes

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.  

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Nov 23

1 hr 19 min

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. 

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Nov 10

1 hr 51 min

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 tree. 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

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Oct 29

1 hr 25 min

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.  

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Oct 16

2 hr 17 min

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

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Oct 8

2 hr 22 min

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

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Sep 17

2 hr 5 min

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  

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Aug 27

1 hr 3 min

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.

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Jul 30

1 hr 25 min

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

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Jul 16

1 hr 6 min

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. 

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Jun 18

1 hr 56 min

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. 

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Jun 4

1 hr 5 min

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 at: https://goods.bonsaimirai.com/collections/vendors?q=Nao%20Tokutake

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May 22

1 hr 23 min

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.

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May 7

1 hr 54 min

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/

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Apr 23

1 hr 51 min

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

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Apr 16

1 hr 52 min

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.  

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Apr 10

1 hr 35 min

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/

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Apr 2

2 hr 17 min

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.

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Mar 29

1 hr 39 min

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. 

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Mar 14

1 hr 43 min

In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil makes a long distance call to speak with Luc and Christian, both 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/

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Feb 27

1 hr 14 min

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

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Feb 21

1 hr 15 min

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  

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Feb 13

1 hr 13 min

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. 

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Feb 5

1 hr 31 min

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

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Jan 29

1 hr 48 min

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.  

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Jan 16

47 min 11 sec

In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan Neil is remotely joined by 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

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Dec 2020

1 hr 22 min

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 with his wife Charlie over the years. 

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Nov 2020

1 hr 34 min

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

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Nov 2020

1 hr 22 min

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.

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Oct 2020

1 hr 38 min

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.

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Oct 2020

1 hr 31 min

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.   

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Sep 2020

2 hr 3 min

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. 

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Sep 2020

1 hr 49 min

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.     

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Sep 2020

2 hr 13 min

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/ 

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Aug 2020

2 hr 34 min

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.   

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Aug 2020

1 hr 45 min

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.

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Jul 2020

1 hr 39 min

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   

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Jul 2020

2 hr 15 min

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.”

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Jul 2020

2 hr 19 min

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.  

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Jul 2020

1 hr 32 min

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.  

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Jun 2020

1 hr 39 min

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.

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Jun 2020

2 hr 40 min

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 Cloepfil's work, see www.alliedworks.com.

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May 2020

1 hr 58 min

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. For more of Peter Warren's work, check out his videos on azaleas and Japanese maples in the Mirai Live library, and visit https://saruyama.co.uk.

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May 2020

1 hr 48 min

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. Find Michael Hagedorn at https://crataegus.com and find Bonsai Heresy at https://stonelantern.com/products/bonsai-heresy.

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May 2020

1 hr 46 min

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.   Hosted by Ryan Neil Recorded by Michael Lime Allen

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Apr 2020

1 hr 26 min

This is it. The big one. The episode we've been eagerly waiting to share with you. 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.   Hosted by Ryan Neil Recorded by Michael Lime Allen  

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Mar 2020

2 hr 2 min

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.   Hosted by Ryan Neil Recorded by Michael Lime Allen

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Mar 2020

49 min 23 sec

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. Hosted by Michael Lime Allen and Troy Cardoza Recorded by Michael Lime Allen   https://www.holvilabonsaipot.com/

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Mar 2020

46 min 55 sec

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. Hosted by Michael Lime Allen and Troy Cardoza Recorded by Michael Lime Allen  

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Mar 2020

19 min 34 sec

In another dispatch from the Trophy, get to know Mirai's French connection: JP Hoareau, christened "Juicy" during his time as an apprentice at Mirai. Get the story behind that nickname, and hear some stories from JP's apprenticeship. Explore his evolution as a bonsai artist, from a fashion student interested in bonsai to becoming a bonsai professional. Hosted by Lime Allen and Troy Cardoza Recorded by Lime Allen

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Mar 2020

45 min 29 sec