Needless to say, Bonsai pots are crucial to the appearance of the tree. Several professional potters have specialized in creating Bonsai pots and in this article we list the most important Bonsai potters from Europe (24 potters in total).
Many thanks to Youri van Pinxteren for his help in putting this article together.
Bryan Albright (UK)
I was born in 1948 in England. Ceramics was part of my early Art school training and for some reason I have had a love of Oriental pots since childhood. But it was after starting Bonsai in 1979 that I began to make pots for my own trees. In 1985 I took the step of trying to start a business making Bonsai pots and this has been the basis of my work for the last 30 years. My techniques and shapes have become more refined as my own trees have developed. I make pots in all styles and work with Bonsai collectors to create the right pot for their tree. I’m probably best know for my glazed pots but I consider unglazed and nanban pots to be the most demanding to make successfully.
It is easy for a potter to create many beautiful glazes and effects but not all will be useful for Bonsai. In fact few will. My studies with Bonsai and the development of my own collection over the years has, I feel, given me a good understanding of the relationship between the Bonsai and the container.
Address: 1, Plattens Close, Corpusty, Norwich NR11 6PP, Norfolk, United Kingdom
Dan Barton (UK)
Dan was born in Hong Kong in 1938 and acquired an interest in Bonsai in 1969. He has never had any formal training in Bonsai and was essentially self taught. He has received three Awards for Bonsai trees exhibited at the International Bonsai and Suiseki Exhibition, Osaka, Japan, including the major Award for 1989 and has also received many other International awards for Bonsai. Dan also wrote a book about Bonsai ‘The Bonsai Book’ and he’s founder of the Bristol Bonsai Society.
In recent years, he has extended his interests to making handcrafted stoneware pots for Bonsai (mostly ‘coiled’) with his wife, Cecilia. They market these pots under the business name of ‘Esoteric Pots’ with a guarantee that no two pots will be the same! Over the past 40 years Dan has met a huge number of ‘Bonsai’ people and made a great many friends, he is eternally grateful for their help and support over the years and to all of you he says: a big thank you. And none of you is forgotten.
Address: Bristol, United Kingdom
Marc Berenbrinker (DE)
I was born in 1976 in Luxembourg. I came across the idea of making Bonsai pots after being interested in Bonsai for over 15 years. I made my first attempts in 2007, which my friend has burned in his furnace for me. This hobby is my second job since 2009. Since then I try to continually develop my pots and try making different pots. In addition to the classic Bonsai pots, I also like to work with unusual shapes and surfaces. A Bonsai pot doesn’t always have to be smooth and steady. It also could be irregular and rough and so on.
I do not use templates or moulds, so each pot is unique. My stamp on the bottom of the pot shows the initials of my name (MB) and alongside the year in which the pot is made.
Address: Teutoburger Weg 43b, 33758 Schloß Holte- Stukenbrock, Germany
Patrice Bongrand (FR)
Patrice Bongrand is primarily a sculptor. Thanks to his passion for Bonsai (that he practices for over 20 years now), he met the Japanese and Asian arts. He discovered the Japanese aesthetic concepts such as Wabi (simplicity/sobriety), Sabi (mark the time/hardiness) and Yugen (mystery/elegance/sadness). Patrice Bongrand made his own Japanese garden ‘Jardin Arboretum Bonsaï’ (see pictures on our website) with around 80 Bonsai from his own collection.
He started making Bonsai pots, first unglazed and later also glazed pots. The pots are fired in an Anagama-kiln (traditional Japanese kiln) at 1320°c. Even some Japanese masters have his pots.
Address: Route départementale 50, 30140 Mialet, France
China Mist Pottery (Steve Kitchman and Alan Harriman) (UK)
Situated on the outskirts of a small village in the North of England, lies a small, understated and busy pottery making Bonsai pots and dishes under the brand name of China Mist. Well known for large rounds and ovals, the pottery is going through an exciting development at the moment as a new potter by the name of Steve Kitchman is taking over the pottery and plans to continue making Bonsai pots in the same style, and to the same quality, that customers have become accustomed to since China Mist started supplying the Bonsai community over 25 years ago.
Quality and attention to detail is an important aspect to a China Mist Bonsai pot and Steve is part way through a training period as a student of Alan Harriman, a well-known individual in the UK Bonsai community, who in his time has made thousands of Bonsai pots in all shapes and sizes. The pottery will eventually move to new premises in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
Address: 200 Thorne Road, Wheatley Hills, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN2 5AF, United Kingdom
Gregory Delattre (FR)
I was born in 1974 in northern France. I studied in art school where I practiced a little pottery. My first job is graphic artist and it's Bonsai that made me love ceramics. Since I do pottery, pots I did are just for me or my friends, so in 2012, I decided to become a professional potter.
All my pots are handmade. I'm not trying to make big production, pottery is firstly for fun. I only make unique pieces, because my objective is to always seek new forms, new textures, new glazes... I still consider myself as a beginner because the ceramic is a universe so vast that you always learn something new.
Address: Neuve Chapelle, France
Erin Pottery (Glyn & Victor Harris) (UK)
Dad (Glyn) and I (Victor) have been involved in Bonsai since 1980 and we began making pots for our own trees in the 1990s. In 1998 after lots of encouragement from fellow Bonsai enthusiasts we started to sell our pots commercially. All of our pots are hand-made by us and are individually glazed, so that every pot is unique and no two pots will ever be quite the same. Our firing temperatures are from 1260-1300°c.
Address: 41 Savoy Road, Bristol, BS4 3SZ, United Kingdom
Petra Hahn (DE)
I’m born in 1964 and live in Rückersdorf. I’ve always had interest in Biology and Botany and I always wanted to do something creative. I found Bonsai very interesting, mainly for their appearance when the seasons are changing.
I started making pots in 2000, just to have pots for my own Bonsai. But soon other people liked my pots and asked for them, so I began selling them. My luck was to get an invitation for an international show. I love to have friends and customers all over Europe and even USA, so I’m proud to be a part of the international Bonsai scene now!
Address: Brunnenweg 12, D-90607 Rückersdorf, Germany
Carlos Hebeisen-Takahama (CH)
I am living and working in Switzerland, I am fully addicted to kusamono and ceramics. The following passions have shaped my life: Bonsai, Japan, kusamono and ceramics. By the end of my first journey to Japan, I could visit the small garden of Fumiko Kato in Omiya. I was very impressed, as I had never before seen such beautiful things. This was actually my first encounter with Kusamono. Murata's Book “Four Seasons of Bonsai" later showed me the path to take, while Japanese books about Kusamono and a second visit to Fumiko's new garden gave me the ultimate kick in the right direction. Kusamono led to my next passion: ceramics. I started to produce pots that I could not buy anywhere else and they were surprisingly unique. As many Kusamono-pots sold are rough or with thick walls, they are not really suitable for elegant grasses or plants. Because of this, I want to focus in the future on elegant forms and lines as well. Now I am selling my own pots “TAKAHAMA" on my website. The label “TAKAHAMA" is in homage to my wife, Yachiyo, because she pushed me to sell my own pots.
Address: Killwangen, Switzerland
Isabelia (including Josef Valuch) (CZ)
Since 2000 we are specialized for Bonsai and all related stuff. For your high quality trees, you need high quality Bonsai pots! We offer you a wide range of Bonsai pottery. We are the biggest Bonsai pot importer in our region. We are visiting China and Japan on our own, to be able to offer you the best quality and prices. All pots are chosen one by one in several pottery factories. We close high-quality Bonsai pots as well as cheep ones for not finished trees.
We also produce unique hand made Bonsai pots in cooperation with 3 Czech skilled ceramists (including Josef Valuch). Two of our ceramists have a wooden oven and one has a gas oven. Our pots are fired with 1260 °c making them frost-proof. The design of our pots vary from pot to pot; every pot is unique. We can also make measured pots for your trees. Whatever pot you are looking for, you'll find it at Isabelia!
Address: U Slépka 2051, 686 03 Staré Město, Czech Republic
Peter Krebs (DE)
NEVER MIND, TRY IT AGAIN.
This dictum by Samuel Beckett pervades my work to a great extent. It explains very clearly how my creative work has developed. At the beginning I made Bonsai pots just for the joy of it and now it has been more than 30 years since I got involved with the handcrafting and spiritual depth of pottery. Bonsai pots are the book of my potter work, consisting of clay, written with earth and fire. Each single pot is a page of this book, which was so much fun for me to write. These pots provide an insight into my work.
Address: Oststraße 9, 35745 Herborn, Deutschland
Erik Krizovenský (SK)
My love for Bonsai pots is similar to my passion for Bonsai trees alone. I have been shaping Bonsai trees for a long time and when doing so I mostly endeavor to create a dramatic expression, old age and patina while sculpting authentic dead wood. Only wild yamadori with their originality can fulfill this vision of mine.
It's usually a big problem to find original pots for original Bonsai trees. I transformed this problem into my passion and named it Atelier Bonsai Element. In my work I am in close contact with Bonsai enthusiasts around the world. Thanks to the internet our cooperation is very effective. They send me photographs and measurements of their original Bonsai trees by email, I draw my vision of their pots and do my utmost to gasp the unique character of their Bonsais. I want to unify the trees with their pots into living artistic pieces. Later when I work on pots, I make sure that every view of a pot is beautiful and every detail is perfect. Everything I create a pot I treat it as if I was making it for myself. Time is of no importance and neither is the number of changes I make. What is important is the final appearance to my satisfaction. In my creations I get inspired by peculiar shapes of natural rocks of volcanic origin, mineral alluvia or cracks of slate layers.
Address: Nová štvrť 3, 082 12 Kapušany, Slovakia
Marnic de Lange (BE)
Marnic was born on the 30th of March 1966 in Opbrakel, Belgium. In 1985 he started experimenting with painting and sculpting. Since 1995 he began with pottery, mainly raku and tableware. In 2000 he build his gaskiln. In 2007, he made his own wood fired kiln, an anagama-noborigama hybrid (Japanese type). In 2010 he made his first steps with making Bonsai pots. Since 2011 he’s making Bonsai pots in cooperation with Jean-pierre Timmermans.
Address: Boelarebos 8, 9500 Geraardsbergen, Belgium
René Lecocq (BE)
René was born in Seraing on July 1st, 1945. The idea to start making Bonsai pots came from his hobby Bonsai he did for a long time. René has ever had potters as friends including Andreas van Kerckhove; he was the potter of Danny Use. Andreas served as René’s big example, in the pottery work of René you can recognize the education that he got from Andreas.
Address: Riet 10, 9190 Stekene, Belgium
Jacques Marty (FR)
Bonsai and Bonsai pottery are my two principal activities as a pensioner. These two hobbies occupy me, distract me and amuse me. It also enables me to communicate with many people. The strong point of my potteries are the colors. They are very adapted to the deciduous species, shohin, kusamono and other shitakusa.
Address: 33 rue du Bourg, 16400 Puymoyen, France
Andy Pearson (Stone Monkey Ceramics) (UK)
I have been making ceramics since 2002. My interest in ceramics first started with Bonsai in 1993 of which the pot is an intrinsic part of the finished image and design. I was introduced in Ceramics and I had a go at making my own pots, with a lot of time and practice I started to get better. After purchasing a small electric kiln, I started to make, glaze and fire Bonsai pots. At first time I made them for my own enjoyment and for my own trees. However members of my local Bonsai club started to ask for pots for their trees and I also sold some to a local Bonsai Nursery. I gained a lot of inspiration from other great English Bonsai potters and this drove me to search for my own individual style, however Japanese ceramics always, and still does, have a huge influence over me.
Over the years I attended several courses at colleges and universities in my quest to improve and better myself. These courses have included throwing pots and glaze formula. In the early part of 2003 I purchased a potter’s wheel and a 9 cubic foot gas kiln. I love subtle lines and quite forms and the ceramic pieces I create must have plenty of ‘Wabi Sabi’ as, in my eyes, there is beauty in in-perfection with each piece telling a story. I like to think now that my ceramics have a voice and are an extension of me, embodying a little of my way of freedom, spirit and life.
Address: Marden, Kent, United Kingdom
Donnas Peterson (UK)
I’ve always been a creative person working principally with pots, I’ve felt an affinity with clay from an early age. Clay is a uniquely tactile and malleable material and my lifelong fascination with it lies primarily in its versatile properties and its universal functions.
I’m probably most noted for my highly collectable pie funnels which are original exclusive handmade designs produced by ‘The prima-donna of pie birds’ as described by The Times for collectors worldwide. I also produce a variety of unique pottery figurines and collectables both functional and decorative, serving customers both here in the UK and abroad, mainly USA and Canada, and as far away as Japan. Most of my Bonsai pots are thrown on the potter’s wheel sometimes with added detail. I also like to experiment with a combination of hand building techniques to produce accent pots as well as cascading one off’s. The Bonsai pots are marked with my artists stamp onto the fresh wet clay before being fired in an electric kiln. They are frost-proof and glazed in a variety of subtle hues enhancing the tree it holds. I enjoy a challenge and will make any pot to order, commissions most welcome!
Address: Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
John Pitt (UK)
I’m a Bonsai and Ceramic artist living in Derbyshire. Thanks to my father’s influence, who has grown trees in pots for as long as I can remember, I became interested in Bonsai in the early 1990’s. Since I had always enjoyed ceramics many years earlier at school, I thought I would create pots for my own trees. I decided from the beginning I would teach myself the new skills I would need, I didn’t want to be taught ‘what not to do’, I had to learn by trial and error how to create the visions I had in my imagination. I soon developed a passion for hand made pots that are unique and individual. I found it fascinating to see how the choice of pot could have an effect on the feeling of the whole composition. To begin with my friends saw my pots and asked me to make some for their trees, now I make pots full time.
Because of my passion for Bonsai trees I believe I have a unique insight into creating Bonsai pots, my passion is designing and creating pots specifically for a particular tree, bringing the tree and pot together, to make them look as if they were made for each other. I also make inspirational pots for accents and accessory plantings in all shapes and sizes, to complement your tree in its display, or simply to enjoy for their own beauty. Check John Pitt's Bonsai artist page.
Address: Derbyshire, United Kingdom
Morea Pubben (NL)
Morea is working with ceramics and their design since secondary school. In 1980, during her teacher training handcraft and painting she specialized herself in ceramics and after her training she got lessons from various ceramic artists. Ever since 1990 Morea works as self-employed artist in her studio in Gennep. Her work consists of ceramic sculptures, designs, paintings and Bonsai pots.
Bonsai was one of her hobbies, and she started making pots for her own trees. With the many contacts made on the internet and interactive discussions, she started to make more Bonsai pots. Morea’s approach is constant renewal. Interest in Bonsai is growing in Europe. Even though Bonsai ceramic belongs to the applied arts, she aims to make every Bonsai pot into an unique ceramic object. Every Bonsai pot is a new experiment in this search.
Address: Gennep, Holland
Sylvie Rigal (FR)
I am located in the countryside in central France, I am a ceramic artist specializing in Bonsai pots, thanks to my husband who’s doing Bonsai as a hobby. Each of my pieces is unique, I work with stoneware pots to ensure the pots are non-freezing, both the glazed and the unglazed pots. Coming from the world of ceramic art, I put in the service of Bonsai, my passion and knowledge.
I’m always searching for new materials, new glazes etc. to distinguish my pots from other Bonsai pots. About the stamps: I have 2 stamps, the stamp on the left means ‘forest’ written in ‘Kanji’ one of the three most used writing systems in Japan, the second stamp are my initials SR.
Address: Les réaux, 18300 Sens Beaujeu, France
Mario Remeggio (Certre) (IT)
I started making Bonsai pots was because I was fascinated by the tradition and innovation of it. There are a few characteristics of my pots: The first characteristic of my work is that I try to make the right color for the pot requested by the customer as good as possible. The second characteristic is that I aim to make every pot unique, resistant to low temperatures; this is one of the reasons that our pots are fired after some tests including firing the chosen material for the pot and tests to see how the glaze turns out after firing. These tests are done for every pot, because for every pot different materials, glaze and so on, are used.
For my stoneware I use various mixtures of materials obtained from all over the world. I can make various sizes of pots; I run sizes from a few centimeters to 80cm. I use different methods for making my pots; a pottery wheel for round pots, mould-made pots and hand-made pots for rectangular and oval pots. My pots are highly appreciated among famous Bonsai artists.
Address: Via Edison 87, Villorba, Treviso, Italy
Tony Remington (UK)
I suppose my interest for Bonsai pots started when I visited a local Bonsai exhibition and was fascinated by the variety of shapes and sizes of the trees and of course the wide range of pot shapes and glazes. I researched the art of Bonsai looking at different Bonsai forums and trying to get a feel for the pottery. I also took advice from established Bonsai growers.
I now produce a range of individual Bonsai pots that vary in size from the smallest Mame pot to the larger piece for the more mature larger tree. All my pots are made from a frost proof high-fired stoneware clay. My pots follow set shapes, but I try to build in certain individuality to each piece. Each pot has its own identity. I also produce free form accent pots from crescent pots in various sizes to sculptured dishes. The pots are finished in a variety of glazes. Sometimes I mix and match the glazes just to see what will result, the mix of colors that can be achieved often surprises me! I also use a range of metal oxide washes on unglazed surfaces to give an interesting and very rugged look to the pots.
I have sold these Bonsai pots to collectors and growers all over the Western world and received positive comments about their functionality and durability. I make a very wide range of pots but am also happy to undertake specific commissions; I can make a particular size, shape or color to match a particular tree; the only limitation is the size of my kiln. Purchasing one of my studio made individual Bonsai pots would be a great addition to your collection and really show your tree at its best!
Address: Sheffield, United Kingdom
Walsall Studio (David, Mark & Ken Jones) (UK)
Walsall Studio Ceramics was formed by David Jones in 1986 with the aide of the Princes Youth Business Trust, after a short period he was joined by Ian Smith and this partnership lasted for 12 years in which time they built a good reputation for their work throughout the Bonsai world not just in Britain but Europe and the rest of the World. After Ian left, David Worked alone up until 2005 when he was joined by Mark Jones a pattern/model maker by trade now turned potter. Together with the added talent of Ken Jones (David’s father) they continue to improve and refine the pots as well as increase the range.
We use many methods of producing our pots, from mould-made pots to hand-made pots. Hand made round pots up to 35cm Ø are generally thrown by Ken and finished by Mark or David. Commissioned pots are freehand built either by coiling or slab building, depending on the shape and size. Once the pots are fully dry, this can take up to 4 weeks depending on the size of the pot and atmospheric conditions, they are biscuit fired in an electric kiln and once cool the pots have there various finishes applied (glazed, oxided etc.). All our glazes are made on site to our own recipe and this in conjunction with the reduction firing in the gas kiln helps to enhance the variety of color and textured finishes. Then the pots are loaded into the Gas kiln and fired to 1260 ºC making them fully frost proof. Each pot is stamped with the Walsall logo and the stamp of the maker either David, Mark or Ken.
Address: Altridge, West Midlands WS1 2HU, United Kingdom
Alex Wansleeben (NL)
I’m Alex and I live in Darp, Holland. I became interested in Bonsai pottery by growing Bonsai. I followed a course by the potter Kees Hoogendam to learn the art of pottery. During this course I rediscovered my forgotten interest in clay. By working with clay I feel connected with the element ‘earth’.
I recently started making Bonsai pots. My pots are fired at 1120 ºC making them frost-proof. I’ve the intention to make from my hobby my work and to start my own business that is specialized in ceramics. I now make more than just Bonsai pots. I also make sculptures of dragons, tea ceramics, urns and other pots. Because I’m in the early stages making Bonsai pots, I’m selling my pots for now at a local online web store marktplaats.nl under the name ‘alex’ located in Darp. You contact me by mailing me to this email: alifix2 (at) gmail.com
Antonio Ziccarelli (IT)
I work alone in a small village in the south of Italy. I've studied art and ancient ceramics for many years. In 2005, I built my first woodfire kiln Noborigama (traditional Japanese kiln). But only since 2010 I started making pots for Bonsai. All my pots are handmade, I do not use templates or mould. So my pots are all unique and unrepeatable. I burn the pots in the woodfire kiln at 1300 °C, making them fully frost-proof. In addition to a stamp I write the date of making. At the end ... it has become a job, because making pots is my life.
Thor Holvila (SE)
Thor Holvila was born in 1969 in Sweden. He graduated from the Schillerska Art School in 1989. After graduating Thor became an apprentice working for Paula Lindfors, a pioneer in Sweden when it comes to Raku techniques. During his time as an apprentice, Thor began making pots for his own trees and in 2009 he finally opened up his own studio. He became a full time bonsai potter in 2013
“I focus on making unique pots, without the use of any slips or moulds. I use pinch pot, coil and slab techniques for my creations. I like the challenge in achieving perfection through imperfection (also known as wabi-sabi), for both my pots and my trees.
My signature pots are large, solid and masculine pots in earth colours and small, organic shohin pots in vibrant colours. Themes and designs I frequently use are the ‘Norse dragons’, skull pots and sculptures around the wiring holes (notice the ‘Four Kings’ on the picture below).”
Address: Gothenburg, Sweden . Website: www.holvilabonsaipot.com