Asymmetry Podcast

Asymmetry Podcast

A place for conversation, incubation, and the connection of other mediums to the world of bonsai. In this podcast, guests from all over the world gather to explore bonsai as an avenue to connect nature, culture, and the individual. Subscribe via StitcherItunes or Soundcloud

Stephanie Wascha

Stephanie Wascha is an architect, artist, and author living and working in Seattle, Washington. Her passion is connecting people with place; her work ranges from private residences to mixed-use development, from historic preservation to community art projects. In this episode of Asymmetry, Stephanie sits with Ryan and Lime to discuss her background in ceramics, her growing interest in bonsai, her architectural practice, and the line walked between architecture and bonsai–and what we can learn from it.

Laura Buchan

Laura Buchan is a modern sculptor based in the breathtakingly beautiful Columbia Gorge. Her work pulls from biological and organic imagery; her main medium is carved wood. In her own words, she enjoys “creating pieces that walk the line between fantastic and realistic.” Ryan and Laura discuss her sculptural process, the organic influences that inform her work, and the overall practice and meaning of being an artist.

CoffeeCast with Pierre Seguin

In another CoffeeCast episode, Ryan sits down with one of Mirai’s most driven students: Pierre Seguin of Quebec. They discuss Pierre’s adventures and explorations as an Emmy-winning underwater videographer, wine expert, and of course, a bonsai practitioner. Pierre takes on all his pursuits with the highest levels of dedication; in this episode, dive into how bonsai correlates with all of his other passions.

CoffeeCast with Todd Schlafer

On our second CoffeeCast, we bring bonsai practitioner and great friend of Mirai Todd Schlafer (First Branch Bonsai) back for another early morning conversation. Ryan and Todd discuss Todd’s journey: his shift from working in the marketing world to becoming a bonsai professional is a truly inspiring story. In this episode, dive into the world of professional bonsai and all it entails, on career, personal, and creative levels.

Will Baddeley

On the 50th episode of Asymmetry, we go back to our roots: meeting the folks that are influencing the bonsai world and teaching fundamental techniques. Ryan and Lime sit down with UK bonsai practitioner Will Baddeley (Wild Wood Bonsai) to explore his background, his trees, and most importantly, his prodigious carving skills.

Reflections on the Trophy

After returning from the 20th Noelanders Trophy in Genk, Belgium, Ryan and Troy sit down with Lime to debrief. Walk with them through the halls of the exhibition, reliving the demonstrations, the incredible trees, and the bonsai camaraderie present at one of the world's finest exhibitions of bonsai.

Modern Soil Science with Ian Hunter

In this groundbreaking episode, prepare to expand your mind and break new ground in understanding soil in the containerized environment. Soil scientist Ian Hunter walks us through the capacity of soil to facilitate microbial growth and the balance between fungi and bacteria, opening the door toward fending off diseases and insects without anything beyond the soil itself. Dig deep into a largely unknown world, and potentially the most important aspect of plant cultivation: the soil system and the flora that exists within it.

The Artisans Cup

In this episode of Asymmetry, travel back in time to 2015: the year that Mirai executed The Artisans Cup, a groundbreaking bonsai exhibition in Portland, Oregon. Troy, Lime, and Ryan sit down in the workshop and take a journey through the Artisans Cup book (available for purchase here) and revisit the trees, displays, experiences, and conversations that made the exhibition great.

Greg Brenden & the Southwestern White Pine

In this episode of Asymmetry, get to know the incredibly significant Northwest bonsai artist Greg Brenden. Ryan and Greg discuss Greg's journey as a bonsai practitioner, how his practice has evolved over the years, and perhaps their most interesting topic–an incomparable Southwestern White Pine, the only specimen of its kind currently living as a bonsai. Ryan and Greg discuss this remarkable tree, once exhibited at the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition, the Artisans Cup, and now part of the Mirai collection.

Repotting Season

In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan and Lime explore one of the most exciting times of the year for bonsai practitioners: repotting season. They discuss techniques, repotting as it parallels to life & other disciplines, and of course, get into plenty of stories along the way.

Asher Fulero & Josh Casey

On this special episode of Asymmetry, Ryan and Lime down with two remarkable musicians: Asher Fulero (who's worked for years as a musician with bands like Emancipator and his own projects, and as a producer and composer) and bassist Josh Casey (also a bonsai practitioner). Ryan, Lime, Asher, and Josh dig in deep to open the idea and concept of creativity, how it's represented in music, and how it ties a common thread through all different art forms. They dive into art vs. craft, the production process, and how those ideas cross disciplines. And of course, there are some great stories from the road. Intro music from Asher Fulero Band's album Catching Air. For more from Asher Fulero, visit

Good Morning with Todd Schlafer

On this episode of Asymmetry, join Ryan, Troy, Lime, and great friend of Mirai Todd Schlafer (First Branch Bonsai) as they catch up on our earliest-recorded podcast to date–7am. They discuss artificial intelligence, that day's incredible sunrise, and debrief Ryan's trip to Italy. All four of them share their highlights of 2018, and their aspirations for the new year.

Pacific Bonsai Museum's LAB Project

This episode of Asymmetry was recorded after the first meeting of the Pacific Bonsai Museum LAB project: the Living Art of Bonsai. This is a first-of-its-kind of program, based on an artist-in-residency model, providing bonsai artists the opportunity to create works of art outside the limitations of the marketplace. Featured artists Ryan Neil, Ron Lang, and Austin Heitzman each provided a unique piece of work drawing inspiration from a Frank Lloyd Wright home. In this groundbreaking unedited conversation, hear intense discussion about process and control as an artist, an artist’s ingrained default responses to design, and how to face and wrestle with artistic challenges.

For more information on Pacific Bonsai Museum's LAB Project, click here.

Julian Voss-Andreae

Julian Voss-Andreae is a modern sculptor of paramount proportions. His work touches on his background in physics and his life growing up in another country–both factors that have tremendously influenced his style and curiosity. From the shape of a bioluminescent protein to quantum physics extrapolated into artistic form, he’s an innovator in the modern art movement. In this episode of Asymmetry, he joined Ryan for a deep dive on sculpture, form, his own work, and how bonsai can occupy a space in modern art.

Mirai Happy Hour

In this episode of Asymmetry, meet the new members of the Mirai team–the folks behind the scenes producing the Mirai Live stream, videos, blog posts, and answering your every email. Ryan & the team sit down for a post-work hangout and discuss first jobs, interests both in and outside bonsai, and generally get to know each other better. We promise you'll learn something new about every member of the team.

Socks, Ceramics, & Augmented Reality

After two cross-country trips together, and several podcasts in between, Ryan and Lime sit down to catch up. They discuss a vast variety of topics, including but not limited to quality socks, a 360 degree view of a tree through an augmented reality headset, Lime’s venture into bonsai ceramics, and more.

Telperion Farms

In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan sits down with Telperion Farms owner Chris Kirk and his collaborator Gary Woods to dive into the intricacies of field-grown bonsai material. They discuss the nuances of timing, preparing the material before it’s planted in the field, adding movement, pruning while in the field, and generally maximizing the field environment to create the best bonsai material possible. If you have questions about field-grown material or are thinking of cultivating your own bonsai material, this episode is a must-listen.

Student Roundtable

On this episode of Asymmetry, join Ryan and a group of longtime Mirai students--most recently part of our Advanced Elongating Species class--for a discussion that gets deep into what it means to practice bonsai. This group has a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge in all their chosen endeavors, and this episode digs into the cerebral aspects that each student pulls from their life into their bonsai practice. It’s an instrumental conversation on evolving the idea of what it means to speak bonsai on a higher level, look at bonsai with more mature eyes, and what it means to be a practitioner without the obligations of being a professional.

David Segal

In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan dialogues with David Segal, an Australian bonsai professional and longtime friend of Mirai. Their conversation is a powerful one: they tackle the tough questions a bonsai practitioner must ask when looking to use bonsai to represent one’s environment and culture. They discuss Australian bonsai going through growing pains to find its voice, utilizing native species, and the Australian National Bonsai Collection in Canberra’s evolution. Though this episode gets serious, as with any episode of Asymmetry, there’s plenty of laughs shared as well.

Tales from the Covered Wagon Pt. 2

In part two of this episode, join Ryan & Lime for the second half of their cross-country journey home from the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, NY. On this leg of the journey, they stop in Denver to take in a bit of the local bonsai culture. They also cross the Rocky Mountains–the backbone of America–which catalyzes some interesting conversations on the weather, driving for a living, and of course, bonsai.

Tales from the Covered Wagon Pt. 1

In part one of this two-part episode of Asymmetry, ride along with Ryan & Lime on a cross-country journey coming home to Portland from the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, NY. They recap the National Exhibition and discuss their thoughts on the show, along with delving into the evolution and future of American and Canadian bonsai.

Sara Rayner

In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan sits down with Sara Rayner, noted and revered bonsai ceramicist, to discuss the impact her work has had on American bonsai. When she began her ceramics career, her work was considered controversial: her work has a distinctive, strong aesthetic in contrast to quieter, more traditional Japanese work. When you see a Sara Rayner pot, you know it’s a Sara Rayner pot. In this conversation, understand the impact Sara’s work has had not only in the world of ceramics, but in the world of bonsai.

Bill Valavanis

In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan sits down with Bill Valavanis, founder of the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition. Bill's bonsai career spans 50 years, with countless publications to his name. Ryan & Bill explore deep questions for the world of bonsai: can traditional forms satiate a practitioner throughout their career? Where is bonsai headed in the United States, and what does that western influence mean for the art form? Where is bonsai headed in the world at large? This is a true meeting of the minds: two artists who have made a career and a life with their bonsai practice, exploring this historic art from different perspectives, and guiding the future of bonsai.

Kendall Strautman

Kendall is a writer, digital producer, and developer for Mirai - the voice behind the Mirai Live cameras asking all your questions. In this podcast, Ryan, Lime, & Kendall chit-chat absurdities.

Adam Johnson

Longtime student and friend of Mirai Live, Adam Johnson, sits down with Ryan and Lime to get real about their hopes, aspirations, and fears involved in creating and working with living material, the challenges of using trees as a commodity, and how they are incredibly hyped on shinpaku junipers.

Todd Schlafer

Todd Schlafer is a bonsai professional based in Colorado. In this episode of asymmetry, Todd sits down with Ryan for another podcast in which they discuss the realities of being a practicing bonsai professional in the United States, and how the trees continue to refuel their creative fire.

Advanced Class Bonsai

In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan engages in a discussion with his advanced class students. This is one of the largest podcast sessions to date, including some of Mirai's longest-standing supporters: Todd Schlafer, Will Kerns, Bill Cadman, and Eric Schikowski. Each of them shares personal anecdotes, their relationships with the practice of bonsai, and experiences with personal mentors.

Ryan and Lime

Ryan and Lime sit down and discuss bonsai, personal inspirations, soccer, and the complexities of life.

Austin Heitzman

Ryan and Lime sit down with long time friend of Mirai and renowned woodworker, Austin Heitzman. In this episode Austin shares some insight into his professional background/practice, intriguing anecdotes, and personal philosophies.

Oscar Eisenschmidt

Ryan sits down with the incredibly talented fabricator and friend of Mirai, Oscar Eisenschmidt. Oscar is the designer/fabricator behind the innovative monumental structures present in many of Ryan's exhibitions such as the Artisans Cup, Unbridled, and Spectrum. Oscar shares details about his eclectic background, inspirations and how they have led him to where he is today.

Maliea Chiem

Maliea Chiem is a bonsai professional based in of Portland, Maine. In this podcast, Ryan and Maliea dives into bonsai practice in Maine and explores the value of a strong community to support creative endeavors.

Form 3D Foundry

Ryan sits down with the Rob Arps and his team from Form 3D Foundry. An innovative studio that specializes in large-scale 3D printing, sculpture, 3D scanning, and the integration of modern technologies and traditional methodologies. They discuss Form's approach and process and their personal inspirations within their practice.

Dennis Vojtilla

Dennis Vojtilla has been cultivating bonsai for over 40 years. He is well known for his deciduous work, and the unique use of grape vines for bonsai. In this podcast, Ryan, Lime & Dennis discuss his approach to bonsai and the complex world of grape-growing.

Vytas Andriuškevičius

Vytas Andriuškevičius is a Lithuanian footballer who plays as a left back for the Portland Timbers of the Major League Soccer. In this podcast, Vytas and the Mirai team dig into life as a professional soccer player, get deep with human design, and Vytas shares his perspective on the world of bonsai.

Bob Laws & Lee Cheatle

Ryan and Lime sit down with two prominent and beloved figures in the world of bonsai, Bob Laws and Lee Cheatle. They discuss their own experiences within bonsai, the origins and development of BSOP (Bonsai Society of Portland), and their personal backgrounds.

Backcountry Boys

Steve and Dan - the Backcountry Boys - are well-known collectors and bonsai lovers from Wyoming. In this podcast, Ryan and the Backcountry Boys talk about their beginnings with bonsai, their ethics around collecting from the wild, and a harrowing tale of being stalked by a mountain lion.

Ofer Grunwald

In this podcast, the Mirai team travelled to Israel to meet with Ofer Grunwald, curator of the Jerusalem Botanical Garden’s bonsai collection and a bonsai practitioner himself. We go deep into Israeli bonsai, the world of visual arts, and their relationship with bonsai as an artform as we move forward.

Peter Warren 

In this podcast, Peter Warren graces the Mirai team with his presence, wit, and wisdom as we discuss the up's and down's of being a bonsai professional, varying work approaches, and appreciating the bonsai moments that make it all worthwhile.

Aarin Packard 

Aarin Packard is the curator of the Pacific Bonsai Museum, an institution outside of Seattle that is dedicated to providing a space for the public to experience and appreciate the incredible art of bonsai. In this podcast, Ryan, Lime, and Aarin discuss the legacy of PBM, the thoughtful programs on the horizon, and how he, as a curator, continues to creatively advance and showcase the tenants of what has become known as, the 'American Bonsai Movement.'

Jonathan Cross

Jonathan Cross is a sculptor and ceramic artist working out of the small desert community, Twentynine Palms, California. Jonathan's work is known for bold, geometric forms taking cues from science fiction, geology, and a sort of ancient architecture. In this podcast, Ryan and Jonathan sit down to discuss inspirations, the artistic process, and the ceramic body.


Wiring is one of the most important techniques that bonsai practitioners learn. It is a meditative puzzle, a fully immersive practice of being present with your hands, the tree, and the design. In this podcast, Ryan, Troy, and Lime sit down to discuss the struggle and process of wiring - how it forces you to grow as an artist.

Todd Schlafer

Todd Schlafer is a musician, graphic designer and bonsai aficionado from the Rockies who recently quit his corporate job to pursue bonsai professionally. Todd is a long-time friend and student of Mirai - in this podcast, he and Ryan sit down for some real talk on what it truly looks like to pursue bonsai fulltime at a professional, sustainable level.

Randy Knight 

Randy Knight is a world-renowned yamadori collector hailing from St. Helens, OR. In this podcast, the Mirai team talks with Randy about his origins in bonsai and the collecting process. He shares some wisdom and experiences from over 17 years in the mountains searching for the best wild bonsai material in North America, if not the world.

The Bonsai Vessel

Ryan, Troy, and Lime sit down to discuss the wide world of "the container". Touching on some of their favorite potters/ceramic artists, what it means to truly innovate in the medium as it relates to bonsai, ways they personally experiment when using ceramics, the history of the ceramic form and its relationship with bonsai.

John Naka

John Yoshio Naka was an American horticulturist, teacher, author, and master bonsai cultivator. He is known as the Father of American Bonsai, spreading the knowledge of this practice to a burgeoning community in the United States. In this podcast, Ryan, Troy, and Lime sit down to discuss John Naka's contribution to the world of bonsai, the path of a beginner practitioner, and continuing the raise the level of American Bonsai practice in Naka's wake.

Ricardo Nagaoka 

Ricardo is a Japanese photographer born in Paraguay, schooled at RISD, and now the man behind the videographic magic of Mirai Live. In between wandering through ancient Italian olive orchards and driving along the Amalfi Coast, Ryan and Ricardo take some time to digest the broad concept of ‘art’ - it’s consideration, appreciation, and creation - and then bring it all back to bonsai as the ultimate creative endeavor.

Texas Barbecue & Field Collecting 

Colton, Troy, Ryan & Lime take a trip down to one of the best bonsai growing operations in the country, Telperion Farms. We start off with Colton Vick, native Texan and the man behind Mirai operations. They dive into Colton's history, his passion for barbecue and the lone-star state. Troy and Lime then dig into the world of field-growing bonsai - how to select the top 10% of material and navigating the 'pyramid' of opportunity.

The Art of Kimura

Masahiko Kimura is one of the most famous bonsai professionals in the world, one who has truly pushed the technique and concept of bonsai as we know it today. In this podcast, Ryan, Troy & Lime sit down in the studio to discuss the history behind Kimura’s most famous works, the dynamics of bonsai in Japan, stories of the apprentices and Kimura’s overall evolution as an artist. Follow along in the book, The Magician, the bonsai art of Kimura, to reference the images and trees being discussed. Note: especially for 'bonsai hardcore' enthusiasts.

Michael Lime Allen 

The sound engineer for Mirai Live & resident Timbers enthusiast, Lime is one of the most colorful personalities on the Mirai Team. In this podcast, Lime & Ryan talk big-wall climbing in Yosemite, the life of a nuclear engineer in the Navy & how bonsai has the power to change lives. Note: Especially for 'bonsai hardcore' enthusiasts.

A Trip to California 

The Mirai team recaps from a recent trip down to California where they visited the most ancient trees on the planet, witnessed avant-garde ceramic artist, Jonathan Cross, wood-firing his kiln, and scrambled through the otherworldly landscape of Joshua Tree.

Ron Lang

Ron Lang is a celebrated ceramic artist, sculptor, and long-time bonsai geek who has a unique perspective on the bonsai vessel.

In Ron's words: "The challenge of the bonsai potter is to provide fresh options, subtlety and variety for bonsai artists. Pots that come on strong, that make too much of a statement all on their own and have too much “ego” are difficult to marry off. But the opposite extreme is just as problematic, the generic, the mass produced and anonymous manufactured containers offer little opportunity for nuances in relationships beyond traditional arrangements. I try to make containers that have life, that take breath, that move, that are not static. The successful pairing of tree and container is a collaborative gestalt." 

Juan Andrade 

Juan Andrade is a bonsai professional hailing originally from Costa Rica, now based in Florida, who recently finished a bonsai apprenticeship in Japan. In this episdoe, the Mirai crew discusses Andrade's roots with bonsai - his apprenticeship in Japan, collecting epiphytes in the Costa Rican jungle, and where he thinks bonsai is headed. 

Peter Warren 

Peter Warren joins the Mirai team in the studio for an unfiltered discussion on bonsai in the UK, Ryan and Peter exchange stories about Japan, Peter explains why suiseki isn't just 'rocks' and how bonsai explains universal physics. 

The story behind Bonsai Mirai

In this inaugural podcast, we dive into the history behind the creation of Bonsai Mirai, and the core players that make this business happen. This is the first of many podcasts to come, where guests from all over the world gather to explore the medium of bonsai as an avenue to connect nature, culture, and the individual. 

Views expressed by guests of Asymmetry are not endorsed in any way by International Bonsai Mirai, nor are they fact-checked for correctness.

*May contain suggestive/explicit content