PSBA - Who We Are

Puget Sound Bonsai Association is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the education of its members and the general public in the art and culture of bonsai. Club members have bonsai experience that ranges from beginner to recognized experts in the art. PSBA holds regularly scheduled club meetings featuring demonstrations and educational programs by national and international bonsai artists. The club also stages public shows and participates in community events where members' trees are showcased. PSBA was formed in 1973.

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April 28, 2014 - Bonsai trailblazer - Kathy Shaner

Summary of April 28, 2014 meeting: Bonsai trailblazer Kathy Shaner was the guest speaker to a packed house at PSBA's April general meeting. Kathy shared tips, techniques, and her own philosophy of bonsai. 

Kathy Shaner was the first American (and of course, the first woman) certified bonsai professional recognized by the professional bonsai growers branch of Japan's Nippon Bonsai Association.

Her bonsai story began in the early 80s.  After studying under many reputable bonsai instructors throughout California and joining almost a dozen different bonsai clubs over a ten year span, she was accepted by Yasuo Mitsuya in Toyohashi, Japan for a 5 year internship that would begin her career as a bonsai master.  These days, she travels constantly as a professional bonsai teacher. 

Thirty years as a professional has provided Kathy with much more than just practice following the rules of bonsai.  Her training included a foundation in Gendai bonsai.  Gendai translated into English means modern or contemporary, but in the context of an art form carries the connotation of avant-garde or experimental. Kathy has paid her dues, moved way past rules, and is entertained by big ideas.

“I feel freedom. I'm not constrained as we were years ago.  Our training gave us great information, but now I can follow nature.  I am more interested in how nature would have influenced the tree.  For years Bonsai culture was about no change.  Now we can focus on what makes the trees healthier, and how I can be influenced by what is natural to their species.”

Kathy is easy going, joyful, and promises the unexpected.  She loves working with a problem tree; one that she can make beautiful, despite its flaws.  “The old rules are outrageous,” she says. As for her sensei, Mr. Mitsuya:  “He has blessed me on my journey for new knowledge”. We can't wait to meet Kathy Shaner in person.