Craftsmanship and good form

Hey guys, this will be my first official post on the forum so I apologise in advance for any mistakes and I really appreciate feedback on that regard.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to know a little bit more about everyone in the community and if any of you have some background in other fields of craftsmanship and how the practice of Bonsai has created either parallels between your own craft or given you new ideas about how to improve in your own craft and by doing so, given you a bit of a peek into the world of beautiful design and the things and lines that create something beautiful, and how much technique and knowledge you must posses in order to pursuit beauty/purity at its highest level.

I’ll explain a bit now about myself and what I think from my own experience.

I’m a Chef by trade and I am really obsessed about certain things in my Kitchen and my business; I always approach my ingredients in a manner in which I can show them the most respect and by doing so I’m forced to use all of my techniques and improve upon them as the necessity rises, for example:

I spent two years at a point in my career as a chef at a farm in central Tuscany where the main focus was the production of high quality grass fed meat; pork and beef, and in my time there is when I went fully into Bonsai theory. What I’m trying to say is that when I saw how much respect and how much pressure I felt while cooking this meat made of animals I had fed myself for days on end during the winter made me realise something about bonsai/cooking and all endeavours where craftsmanship is a big component, and that is that when we truly respect something or care about something that will nourish us either physically or spiritually, we naturally push ourselves to learn/understand/develop every technique we use in our craft.

A parallel I see is for example when we are about to repot a tree and how we must be ready for the process to minimise stress and be able to ensure the survival and growth perpetuation as Ryan puts it of that particular plant; in kitchens we have a word for that and that is: “Mise en Place” (a french frase for “Everything in Its Place”) or MEP for short, When we have a dish that is trying to push the boundaries of what we can do as cooks or what our kitchens are capable of doing we can have many, many components that go into it, and sometimes those components need to be individually cooked, blanched, baked… whatever, and if we don’t have every little thing ready (from that one little wood sorrel leaf to the biggest cuts of meat) everything can go south very quickly. This makes me see the importance of craftsmanship in that process and thus in every other process that requires precision and respect for a living thing.

So, I was wondering if anyone else has similar anecdotes or thoughts and how we can all add that to our tool belt.


@ssundfeld this is probably an interesting topic for the Asymetry podcast @Sam … a live discussion between a Chef and a Bonsai artist on lives, vegetal and animal …
Your question @ssundfeld requires some reflexion … thank you for that. Will maybe come back with some input but need time to think about it. Cheers,


I can’t say that what I do is a craft but I like this post and it got me thinking a bit. I have naturally thought about some parallels with bonsai and even just Mirai live in general but this post made me kind of collect those thoughts a bit.

I am a military pilot which is pretty polar opposite from bonsai. However, there are parallels in interesting ways. In both, you need to be present in the moment when you are actually performing your task, like most things, however it’s the foresight that I find parallels the most. Before going out and executing a flight of an 8, 9 or 10 hour mission, there’s obviously a lot of planning and preparation that goes into it. What’s different about today? What can go wrong? and the big one… What am I trying to accomplish? The answers to those questions are not always known and you find new things as you go, dictated by the tree or the mission. However, knowledge and experience, even from other pilots or bonsai enthusiasts/ practitioners, do make that foresight better and can help prevent disaster down the road. It’s not a crazy parallel but one that I have noticed to a pretty good extent.

Other things bonsai has done for me is increase my interest in other crafts from a different light and respect. Ceramics, glass blowing, wood working… all crafts that have peaked my interest and am looking to dabble in for some exposure.

As for Mirai, Ryan has a very natural talent at teaching and presenting information at a digestible level even for someone new to bonsai (I’ve only been diving heavily into bonsai for a year.) I’ve been fortunate enough to earn the instructor pilot designation in my career and teaching and instructing have made a huge difference in my life and mind. It’s challenging to present the material or information to cater the the audience. I would teach one hour meetings about some type of pilot related topic every week and, this may seem like a stretch, but I have taken note of Ryan’s demeanor and style in his teaching and have tried to emulate it in some ways in my career. There’s a lot of behind the scenes to teaching and instructing and I respect the heck out of Ryan. And he does it all on the spot. It’s impressive!

Anyway, thanks for the thought provoking post!


Thank you for sharing and now that I thought a bit about it it makes sense that this set of discipline rules are not necessarily exclusive to craftsmanship areas but are the essence of any professional whatever the field may be, makes me think that there has to be a constant that drives human endeavour.

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