Sunday, April 26, 2009

Let's get things started

After hemming and hawing over putting together a site for months I thought I just jump in and get it started.

I guess I should start with a brief introduction; I'm a self employed Pedorthist by trade and have been since 1997. My collecting of caudiciform/pachycaul succulents started in 1991 with just a few plants, today I have over 800 ranging from seedlings to massive specimens and it's taking over a good portion of my backyard.

Pottery came about because I need a pot for a large Cyphostemma so I could take the plant to a local Cactus and Succulent show in 2008

A little history of my collecting first before I go on with the pots. This plant is what started my craze for fat plants, in 1991 I purchased this Cyphostemma juttae at a local home repair warehouse in a 3.5" pot. Had no idea what it was intrigues by it's shape, as my wife says "it looks like a potato in a pot". It was grown in a pot for a few years and it got bigger but not very fast. In 1995 I saw some Cyphostemmas in the ground at UC Berkeley botanical garden and those plants were quite large. I came home and made a small raised growing bed to see how it would respond. Wish I would have started taking photos of it's progress back then, the first photo of it I have is from 1999
Showing some great character even at this point and this was from being in the ground for 4 years!

In 2000 it was dug up for transportation to our new house, it's in a12in wide container. You can see a line across the midsection where it rotted one year ans I recall it was from a cold snap of the winter 97-98.

From 2000-02 it was potted, growth was minimal in height but it kept getting fatter. I wanted larger growth and later that year I put back in the raised bed.

Here it is in 2003 in the raised bed, growing medium is 80% pea gravel and 20% composted manure.

Winter of 2005 under an unheated poly tunnel for protection from the rain.

Look at all those growing points!!

After much prodding from friends I decided to enter the plant in a C&S event, I went looking for a pot suitable to put it in. Went to nurseries, home centers, bonsai retailer and found nothing . The pot that were wide enough were too deep, ones that were the width I wanted were not deep enough and I wasn't going to pay $300 for a nice bonsai container.

So this is where the pottery comes in. My wife has a kiln for her ceramic and doll making, I just needed to learn how to build a pot. Bought a book and made a few small pots to get the feel of the clay.

Nothing fancy, simple pinch and coil pots. Now I felt ready to attempt a large creation.

Here it is on top of our 28" electronic kiln. It was a coil construction using a large wash basin as a mold.

It just fits, and to my amazement it comes out of the kiln perfectly fired!

After potting up the 100lb behemoth.

At the 2008 Sacramento C&S show, too bad it was not a judged event. After receiving so much praise I made the decision to jump in the pool with the big boys down in Los Angeles 3 months later.

Winning 1st place in the novice division at the 2008 Intercity show!


fatplant1 said...

Love that Cyphostemma!!!

fatplant1 said...

Awesome pot!!!! The orange glow makes it look like an active lava flow. Don't plant it up! Leave it like it is!!!

Rob from Taiko-Earth said...

Great pots and plants! Thanks for sharing.

Pompom said...


Great website!! Interesting to see the trials and tribulations of growing African succulents. Makes me want to get back into pottery.


Succulentguy said...

You got first place because you were strong enough to lift the plant on to the table!

Alicia said...

amazing! I love your work!!