Raw Material Critique critique

I like Ryan’s approach in designing raw material to try to bring out the unique and best features of the individual tree rather than have the tree conform to a preconceived form. Rotating the tree around from as many sides as possible, pointing out both strong and weak points of each position helps to work towards a chosen design.

I think it would be helpful to formulate a basic but limited check list of things to avoid and include: like avoiding parallel lines of tree branches/trunk line to pot rim, considering location of rootball and the stress that may be caused during the repotting process, avoiding 2 dimensional positioning of tree, seeing the best possible trunk line movement, deadwood and tree base. Some might consider a checklist as falling back to conventionality but such a list might help to protect the tree’s individuality. Too many checklist points could have the opposite affect leading to a craft approach rather than art where increasing quantity leads to lowering quality.

I have heard Ryan also mention in tree design to first look to creating a tree’s natural iconic appearance before settling upon designing the tree as a bonsai using one of the classical forms. Trees growing in ideal conditions look very different from ones in harsh environments. But again, it should be what the tree brings to the turntable that determines tree design.

As for the design of the rocky mountain juniper in the stream, I like his front but l preferred the tree’s movement to the right. I would have Ryan’s lower defining branch move to the right, drawing it closer to the trunk line and drawing one’s eye to the interesting twist in the trunk above. Likewise l would lower the upper right branch right side drawing it closer to the long dead trunk, focusing on it. The upper right branch’s left side could be the new apex.

Any comments?

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Questions I try to ask whenever anyone (myself included!) says “Mirai should produce X content”:

  • Is this something lots of people would use?
  • Could I-or-someone-else reasonably get this from Mirai’s existing content or content pattern?
  • Is this content more useful to the majority of Mirai users than whatever Mirai is already doing?

It seems to me that a significant number of Mirai users are really interested in engaging nursery stock and other inexpensive material – so yes there!

But I’m not sure what this would offer that isn’t already embedded in the existing nursery stock series and other content, which means I might prefer Mirai to keep doing what they’re already doing.

What would this checklist offer that would be significantly better than existing content?

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hierophantic, so that l am clear in what you are saying, are you wondering if the critiques of expensive collected trees are of value to those who can only afford nursery material?

If this is the case, l would say yes as l think the general design principles would apply although less so perhaps with nursery stock that may be less complicated with no twisting jins and live views, less deadwood in general, less ramification. The check list is only codifying the points Ryan made. There maybe other points but it should be of a limited scope otherwise it defeats the purpose of focusing on the individual tree’s attributes by becoming an overly detailed guide book.

I would be surprised if there is not some repetition in Ryan’s approaches as he has developed an aesthetic that evolves. That is most likely what you see in the existing nursery stock series. l agree. What l find valuable in the critiques is the examples they serve as concrete applications of bonsai design. Perhaps Mirai could do some or more design critiques or 1st iterations of raw nursery material.


I think a bunch of us discussed that on a thread already! My conclusion, at least, was “Mirai content is useful regardless of material cost; we don’t need more ‘cheap material’ content, but rather, more ‘material in development’ content.”

I think I’m aiming at a slightly different target: basically, “isn’t what you’re asking for already out there – just scattered across several videos?”

I’m not sure. My intuition is yes. And while having everything in one place is convenient, I’m (genuinely) not sure I value that convenience over e.g. Mirai producing more material-in-development content, or another Design Fundamentals video, etc.


As I have seen several streams I noticed and attended to Ryan intentionally repeating some IMPORTANT points in our work on our trees as well as seeing so much I had not known or perceived before, All you mentioned in OP seems to me to have been included over those streams. Have not seen all streams but sure there is overlap and repetition. Especially of value to me is what Ryan says about trees natural growth habits and letting tree lead the dance in our styling decisions:wink:. Work on Bristlecone Pine and big Nursery Oak were mind blowing transformations for me. Can hardly wait to see the Bristlecone the second dance recital.