Ok, here’s where the part you really came for starts. So, I have a process for design. Usually starts as research on what I want to achieve, moves to sketches, and then a color drawing, then a prototype model, then the final product. I mention this because I have read here that some people have posted all around the forum that they have trouble with the planning of a good scape.
My earliest scapes were pretty phenomenally lacking in planning – and it showed. I just grabbed what I thought I liked and threw it in, with little forethought. FX says to visualize your final scape. I agree. This is a visual as well as a tactile art form, so visualizing what your goal is remains important (degree in Fine Arts came in handy after all!).
I started with what I want to see from the front. Concave, convex, triangular? What is the feeling I want? I was ok with concave or triangular. I knew I wanted iwagumi with some stems in the background. I made my sketches. Here’s a doodle I did at work:
I also did a color version, but it seems to be missing. No worries, because things change as I get the actual materials I’ll be working with.
Planning is important, but remember: this is a largely organic process. Unless you know exactly what you are working with from the start, your end product will inevitably be different than you expected. I’m ok with this aspect. So I plan and doodle with the knowledge that I might throw it all away when my stone arrives.
My delicious stone. My magical stone. Yes, I love my stone.
Remember that this is without substrate (or a tank, for that matter), so it will appear different. Mr. Amano used this process to create the Tokyo SkyTree scapes. If it works for the father of Nature Aquarium Style, it should work for me! I laid out my stone on top of my stand, on a towel so it wouldn’t scratch the finish. It’s the same dimensions as the tank, so I have my footprint. I can use a tape measure to estimate the height.
The stone arrived, and I immediately set to work:
Started poorly. Rigid. Artificial. I like the height, but that’s about it. I think I was just too excited, or maybe I just didn’t have the feel of the stone yet. I went back to the little I know about Japanese gardening, and remembered the Crane and Turtle motif. With a few additions, here is my attempt:
I like this one, but there is something about it that doesn’t sit right. Maybe the “crane” stone should be at more of an angle?
I shook it off, and let it sit for a day. Decided to re-approach it later. About this time we had a transit of Venus.
I realized I tend to place my focal point just left of center. Let’s mix it up.
Single spire, right of center, vertical alignment. Hmm. Ok. Let’s try concave.
Could work with substrate in there, but right now - a little weird. Let’s go back to the spire.
Closer. Better. Still lacking balance and I didn’t like how the secondary stone sat. Take another break, buy one more stone. A big one. The Big One.
It arrives. Now, we play:
Not working. That new stone… rotate? Take a break. Come back later, refreshed.
So close… What’s wrong? Take a break.
This is the final version of this spire concept. I may use this if I still like it in a few days. I may also go back to something resembling the Crane and Turtle concept with this new stone.
Meanwhile, I wait for the tank and substrate system to arrive and hope it hurries along!