SEP 2017 - Todd Schlafer

Todd Schlafer
Saturday Workshop - September 2nd
Monthly Meeting - September 5th
My interest in bonsai began on a trip to Spain in 2002 when I purchased a bonsai seed kit. When it didn’t grow a great bonsai in a matter of a few months, I decided to explore nearby nurseries for older material. This eventually led me to Harold Sasaki, proprietor of Colorado Bonsai, who allowed me to volunteer at his nursery. I did everything from pulling weeds to eventually styling trees.
My obsession with collecting trees formed shortly thereafter, as Jerry Morris, another regular at Colorado Bonsai, invited me on a collecting trip to Utah. I learned very quickly that basic design principles did not necessarily apply to collected material with sparse foliage and unconventional branches. Therefore, in 2012, I decided to further my studies with Ryan Neil to learn how to style and develop material of this caliber.
My study with Ryan focused on the advanced techniques of setting tree structure, which is the most difficult skill set to achieve in bonsai. From sunup to sundown, I pushed myself to master those techniques. With my skills well rounded, I was inspired to pursue bonsai practice full-time. And when others began to seek out my expertise, I started to instruct professionally.
People often ask me, “Is working on bonsai relaxing and Zen-like?” Refining trees and maintaining foliage most certainly is. But while setting the initial structure of a collected tree isn’t remotely relaxing, when done correctly it’s one of the most fulfilling aspects of bonsai design. Watching the tree flourish following such work can be unbelievably rewarding.
To view my portfolio and see a sample of the collected material I have to offer, please visit my site -
Professional Highlights:
  • Featured artist on the Bonsai Empire's Facebook live Q&A
  • Featured on the Bonsai Mirai's Live Stream in April of 2017
  • Past President of the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society
  • Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society’s Artist of the Year - 2012
  • Exhibitor at The Artisans Cup in Portland, Oregon - 2015
  • Won Best North American Species award for my Colorado Blue Spruce at the National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, New York - 2016
  • Recipient of the Malcolm Corel Award, an honor given to a member of the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society from their peers - 2017