By CAYO SOUZA MATTOS
While many people emerged from the pandemic with exciting hobbies such as running, knitting, reading, and candle making, I think I took the cake as I surfaced with a newfound love of Bonsai. Nature has always interested me; I’ve always been curious as to how trees can form into strange shapes based on influential elements. At the same time, I’ve also been an avid sculptor since I was a young child, where my mother says she would give me pieces of clay instead of regular toys to keep me occupied. Merging my sculpting skills with natural curiosity, I decided to start learning the art of bonsai in early 2020.
Since starting, my bonsai education has taken me all around the world. While physically being on my couch at home in Tampa, I spent the majority of lockdown watching Japanese YouTube videos on wiring techniques and learning how to repot.
My bonsai education then encouraged me to take remote classes with renowned American bonsai artist Ryan Neil on the Mirai Live platform. My bonsai education also had me plant shopping most weekends and making frequent trips to Wigert’s for potting soil. After spending a year and a half learning and practicing, I heard of BSF’s 2021 scholarship competition, but unfortunately, I was too late to compete. Instead, I focused my time on preparing for 2022.
I joined Suncoast Bonsai Club and went to win all two competitions leading up to BSF.
Regardless of winning these, I was still so nervous to step into the conference room in May and line up next to Florida’s best upcoming bonsai artists. The BSF competition was challenging but I loved every minute.
While I won the competition, I know there is still so much to learn, and have decided to go on and take classes with Boon and David Cutchin. Bonsai is an ever-growing artform and none of us will ever truly know everything about it, but I’m determined to try.