Production of handmade bonsai pots

Work steps Pictures
Production - general Manufacture of slip cast bonsai pots Yixing bonsai pots

The production of handmade bonsai pots takes place in a multi-stage production process. With hand-made bonsai pots of the highest quality, the production of a single pot can take weeks.

In order to meet the highest quality demands, bonsai pots have to be reworked in the pottery again and again. The craftsmanship of the potters is impressive.

In this report we show the different work stages in the production of handcrafted bonsai pots.

Production of handmade bonsai pots - Step by step

The following steps are involved in the production of hand-made bonsai pots:

  • First a "Master mold" for a bonsai pot is made from plaster. This serves as a template for the plaster "work molds" of the handmade pots produced in small series. This ensures that the handmade bonsai pots are as identical as possible in terms of their dimensions. You can also work with several identical plaster molds. This significantly accelerates the processing of larger orders.
  • Purchase of the clay from specialized companies. Since the demands on the clay are high for handmade bonsai pots, it is not worth making your own. The clay is usually supplied in the form of 10kg bars.
  • In the next step, the kneadable clay is cut into plates (thickness roughly corresponds to the thickness of the pot wall) and pressed into the plaster mold by hand. When the mold is completely lined, excess clay is removed using a stencil.
  • Now the leather-hard clay can slowly dry in the plaster mold. The shrinkage during drying of the pot blank results in a fine gap between the pot and the mold. If the pot blank is stable and dry enough, it can be carefully removed from the plaster mold.
  • During the subsequent drying of the pots, the feet are attached (glued on with clay), excess clay is cleaned off and the pot walls are repeatedly smoothed and aligned.
  • The step of reworking the leather-hard blank is very important for the quality of the later bonsai pot. The more attention is invested here, the better the later bonsai pot. This step is particularly important with unglazed bonsai pots because every small flaw can be clearly seen here. Once a bonsai pot is dry or even fired, corrections are almost impossible.
  • As long as the bonsai pot blank is still leather-hard, the water drainage holes and the wire holes are also punched. With branded bonsai pots, the stamp is now also pressed into the pot bottom.
  • Before firing, the pot blanks must be dried for many days. Great tensions arise within the bonsai pot. Therefore, the drying must not take place too quickly. Otherwise, particularly large pot blanks would tear and break quickly. So that the drying takes place slowly, the blanks are often covered with foil or paper.
  • Once the pot is dry, it can be glazed if necessary. This is usually done by dipping or spraying, more rarely by painting. Engravings are also now very artistically applied, often without a template.
  • The dry unglazed or glazed bonsai pots are placed before firing in a clay kiln (usually gas oven) on a trolley. It should be noted that the heat can spread well and evenly between the pot blanks in order to avoid tension in the pots or incorrect fires due to too a low temperature at individual points.
  • A lot can go wrong when firing the bonsai blanks. That's why everyone is always very excited when the door of the gas kiln opens after days. Small things often decide whether a glaze turns out red or green or whether a bonsai pot has cracks.
  • In most cases, handmade bonsai pots are fired at temperatures >1180°C. Most types of clay sinter here and are then frost-resistant after the fire because they hardly absorb any water.

Production of handmade bonsai pots - Pictures

The following pictures give a small impression of the different work steps: