It’s been 26 days since my last blog, seems like an eternity. But not to worry I’m back and I have finally shaken off the holiday mood. Today I want to share the work that I did on the Juniper in the feature image. This tree was my first juniper I owned and one of my first cascade designs. It has come a long way but due to lack of knowledge the tree has developed at a very slow pace. The tree could have been further developed if I knew more about the species and if I started with the correct techniques and a clear vision of what the end product must be.
Enough about that let’s get into the work I did. First off the tree has been trimmer and formed regularly. It was also fertilized and treated for pests weekly. In the middle of last year I removed all the wire off the tree and I just focused on the health of the tree. I saw that the tree was doing great and knew that the time to work on the tree was now. I thought that I would be a great idea to take the tree with me to a social event at a fellow bonsai artist house to discuss the tree. Well I could not have asked for more input that’s for sure. The tree was looked at from every angle and the new design was decided on.
Here is a photo of the tree before I started working on the tree.
As you can see in the image above the tree’s foliage moves away from the trunk and there is a big empty space between the trunk and the foliage. Another thing mention is that you can not see the deadwood that was carved away if you look at the image taken from this angle . This does not look good and you can not see all the features of the tree from the front.
A few photos of the tree’s deadwood before I started carving it.
I carved the deadwood on this tree over a long period and I needed to take away more of the deadwood to be able to bend the tree into the shape I need for me to see the deadwood and the foliage from one side of the tree. In doing this I would be compacting the design of the tree more.
Before we start with the carving let’s just put on our safety gear and add a camera to see from all angles. 😂 #hardatworkselfie
Okay… now that that’s all done let’s do this.
I ended up just hollowing out the deadwood more and extending the length of the deadwood more so that it starts a bit lower down. I also carved into one of the roots close to the surface of the trunk as this root already died off it just made sense to include this into the design instead of removing it. If there is one thing I learnt in last year it is to include as much of the material you have to start with into a design and only remove things once you are done with the design or once you know what you want to do with the tree. If you remove something to soon you can not duct tape it back on! As a wise man once said measure twice, cut once.
After I carved the wood I added a piece of thick wire in the carved area to support the tree so that it does not snap off during the bending process.
Please note that it is very important that the wire needs to be bend to follow the curves of the tree. The tighter the fit the better.
I then continued by preparing my raffia.
I placed my raffia in water so that I can work with it much easier. If the raffia is wet it does not break when you are applying it as you need to apply a lot of pressure to wrap the raffia tightly around the tree. We use raffia to keep the live vein from separating from the wood or tearing apart during bending thus not allowing sap to for past the section.
After the raffia was nicely wrapped around the tree I applied the wire to the trunk. I then bend the trunk and repotted the tree as the trunk was pushing against the container. I only worked on the trunk line of the tree and will still have to place the branches. Doing all this in one go might just be to much for the tree to handle. Even if the tree is strong enough to handle all the work at once the recovery will be slower than doing the transformation over a longer period.
This was the tree after it was repotted and bend into place.
Here is a video with more detail on the tree’s transformation.