Central Virginia Bonsai Society
Lynchburg, Virginia
CVBS Newsletter
CVBS Home Page
Return to Adams' Bonsai Home
Items below from the December 31, 2016  , CVBS Newsletter
CBVS Photos

WIRING> Wiring is a major tool in the bag of tricks used to style bonsai. Many, even some long time bonsai owners, are intimidated by wiring. The best way to overcome fear of wiring is to do itů.lots of it. As with most things, one's skill almost always improve with practice. Explaining how to wire usually leaves me at a loss for the right words. I have found a few fundamental practices that greatly improve the look and end results of my wiring. I offer these fundamentals to you here, not as a complete guide to wiring but as practices which will help one's wiring to go faster, look better, and give better results.
PRUNE PROPERLY: Wherever possible, allow only two branches to emerge (fork) at each junction. This often makes the branch and limb structure look better. However, another benefit is that it greatly simplifies wiring. Sometimes there are situations where more than two limbs emerge from the same junction but pruning to leave only two is almost always best. The path for wire to take from trunk to limb to twig is clear when the branches always lead from one branch splitting into two branches.
PASS BRANCHES UNIFORMLY: As the wire is wound around the limb, it will reach forks. At each fork of the limb the wire will "pass" one of the fork's branches and continue on the other branch. The key to neat wiring is to be sure that, on each limb, the wire goes by the "passed" branch of every fork in the same way. The wire can "pass" either under or over the unwired branch of each fork. Whether the 'passing" is done above or below the unwired branch is not important. What is important is that the "passing" of each fork be done in the same manner for the entire limb: either all "passes" go under the unwired branch or all "passes" go over the unwired branch. If each fork has only two branches (see PRUNE PROPERLY above) it will automatically be possible to wire side branches without crossing wires. I somehow find it easier to "pass" the wire under each branch for most situations. Wonderful things will happen to one's wiring if the "passes" are made in a consistent manner.
RIGHT TWIST OR LEFT TWIST: In general, the direction of the spiral around the branch is not important. Let or right turns can be equally effective. It should be acknowledged that in some circumstances the direction of the twist is important. Often branches bend a bit better if they are twisted as they are bent. The bend will be better held by the wire if the wire is placed on the limb with a twist direction which tightens (not loosens) as the branch is bent. The movement which to be imparted to the branch should be decided before the wire is applied and then the proper twist direction can be used. It should be noted that twisting a branch in the correct direction can bring several of its side branches into more favorable orientation as the branch is twisted. This can reduce the need for wiring some of the side branches.
BOTTOM TO TOP, BIG TO SMALL: Wiring should start at the lower part of the tree and work upward toward the apex. The primary reason for this is that most branches on bonsai are lowered as they are wired to aid in creating the look of age. When one starts at the bottom, the lowering of each limb will give additional space above it to comfortable apply wire to the next highest limb.
Similarly, the largest limbs should be wired first. Then the smaller branches of the larger limb can be wired. I choose to think of the trunk as the largest limb of the tree. The trunk is thus wired first. Use wire of sufficient size to bend the thickest part of each limb. Start wiring an individual branch at the thickest end and wind toward the tip. As the wire winds toward the tip of the limb the wire may be larger than necessary but nothing is quite as frustrating as trying to position a limb with wire too small to hold bends in the thickest part.
The preceding suggestions are not the whole story of wiring but implementing those ideas, especially the one regarding passing branches uniformly, will give a great foundation to painless and effective wiring.
LIFE IN THE WORLD> While glancing out of the kitchen window a few weeks ago in noticed and unusual commotion near the edge of the woods. A pair of very large red tailed hawks were flying at the trunk of a free standing walnut tree. A closer look revealed a grey squirrel who was very much engaged in his interaction with the hawks. Like all squirrels, this one was very good at quickly moving to the side of the tree away from the threat. Even with the hawks repeatedly coming from two directions at once, the squirrel managed to survive until I had to attend to something on the stave. When I got back to the window the squirrel was not to be seen and the hawks were gone too. I don't know the outcome of the skirmish but it was a clear reminder that life in the world is not always as idyllic as is sometimes imagined.
INTERESTING GIFT> Connie Dorn sent me a book recently. I'm glad that she sent it as I would likely not have found it otherwise. The title is "The Hidden Life of Trees" by Peter Wohlleben. I quote from the book's cover: "Are tree social beings? In this international best seller, forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in his woodland."
This is not a bonsai book but is close enough to be of interest to those who ponder philosophical questions while tending their bonsai. There are new scientific discoveries (well footnoted) that he uses to build a case for his understanding of normal life in the woods. There is a clear point of view relative to climate change and human effects on nature built into his writing but he gives a fascinating glimpse of things around us that go on without our knowledge or understanding. It is a strong testimony to the toughness of our plants and to the care we give them that they survive and sometimes thrive in the isolated pots of bonsai life.
ADAMS' BONSAI HAPPENINGS> Feeling a little time pressure from my planned trip to Japan for KoKufu Ten, I started wiring and pruning the Zuisho a bit early this year. The studio is not a bad place to hide when the curtain hanging gets out of control. The end result of the early start is that all of the "rough' Zuisho which I have in training have been wired and pruned. They are ready for the next growing season. Last year they made significant progress toward culmination of their designs. The wiring and pruning has them looking very nice, even with random sacrificial branches sprouting from the trunks of many of them. The next big job is to wire the most advanced Zuisho and to do refinement of the pines in my personal collection.
Wire safes sold out just before Christmas. This is a happy problem. The maker is at work now making another production run. I hope to fill all the back orders and have inventory again by late January.
If the weather cooperates, I'll be giving presentations at several clubs over the next few weeks.. It's fun to get on the road and see what bonsai folks are doing in other areas.
Your benevolent dictator wishes a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year for CVBS members, their families, and friends!