Jim Mueller is a longtime enthusiast of Far East arts such as hon non bo, karesansui, penjing, suiseki, and tieu canh. In 2002, he began experimenting with ways to enhance the natural therapeutic power of these landscape and stone arts for everyone. He calls his compositions ShanChuan (mountains and streams), drawing inspiration from Chinese landscape painting, Japanese garden design, and rare natural stones (gongshi), as well as manmade and natural stone formations around the world.
Jim is also a specialist in design for people of all ages and abilities, often called inclusive or universal design. His ShanChuan Islands are among the few art forms accessible to people of all ages and abilities. The visual composition, sounds of cascading water, and contrasting textures of rock and living plants can be appreciated regardless of vision, hearing, or mental abilities. The porous volcanic rock is also an ideal medium for adding scents with essential oils such as spruce, cedar, fir, and vetiver. For those unable to easily enjoy the outdoors because of physical limitations - or busy schedules - these sculptures offer access to nature year round. They also enrich the dry indoor air of long winters. In warm weather, these sculptures can be relocated to a porch or deck, or left indoors to extend the garden inside.
Jim practices sustainable design, using natural and reclaimed materials as much as possible. The rock is harvested from sites of volcanic eruptions in the southwest US. The hand-finished Korean trays are made of 80% mica, 15% polyethylene and 5% graphite. Jims custom-made trays use reclaimed materials such as cedar closet lining planks, bamboo flooring, and Corian countertop remnants.