Bonsai Study Group Forum

General Category => Evergreen Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: Chrisl on August 26, 2011, 01:08 PM

Title: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: Chrisl on August 26, 2011, 01:08 PM
I bought this tree at the Midwest show.  Brought it to a Ryan O'neil 'bring your own tree' workshop.  I cleaned it up and created 3 jins.  And got some ideas of where to proceed from Ryan as time ran out.

The first two are after the workshop, the next 2 are after some wiring and PLEASE don't laugh, my rebar to pull the branch downward, but more importantly, the rebar allowed me to pull this forward as well.  I couldn't think of any other way of doing this.  The 6 g. copper wire wasn't doing the trick.  And I didn't have much room to do two runs of the 6 g, esp. room for wire on the rest of the branches.

I still have to wire the tip of that leader to form a pad, as well as wire up all the smaller branches into place and into pads.  I really like where this is going.  I plan to complete the wiring and leave it at that.  Enough trauma's been done this year ;)
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: Chrisl on August 26, 2011, 01:09 PM
The other two.  Oh, I made the rebar that big in case I ever want to use it on a larger tree in training.
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: Chrisl on August 29, 2011, 09:44 AM
Any criticism or ideas?  I'd love to hear what you all think.  You won't hurt my feelings ;))
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: MatsuBonsai on August 29, 2011, 10:03 AM
I wouldn't do more for now, just allow it to rest and recover.  I would've liked to have seen much more bend in the trunk, perhaps at the spot of the wired jin.  Leaving the strong tip growth is a good idea, to help the branches continue to grow and recover.

Also, what's the rebar for?  It doesn't appear to be doing much.  I would bet you could do the same with wire.
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: coh on August 29, 2011, 10:33 AM
I'll have to take a closer look at the trees later, but my one comment is an easy one - it would be really helpful if you can manage to get a plain  background (either white or black) behind your trees when you take photos - makes it much easier to evaluate the trees themselves. A piece of foam core (from a craft shop) might work in a pinch, or you could drape some fabric behind them. It makes a big difference!

Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: Chrisl on August 29, 2011, 10:55 AM
John,  I am finished working it this year.  I should've mentioned that when I repot this tree, I'm going to angle it to the right for better trunk movement.  I also wanted to bend the trunk more, but felt I had done enough bending and trauma to the tree this year.  The rebar allowed me to wire the branch much further forward than what I could've done wiring it to the pot.  I tried it and didn't like it.  But, you're prob. right, with enough wire I could've gotten the same result.  But I didn't have room for two runs of 6 g. copper wire, one didn't do it.  And had I run two runs, I wouldn't have had room to wire the rest of the branches.  "Wire Management" is something I have to improve upon.

Chris, I'll track something down.   It's a good idea.

Thanks guys for the feedback, I very much appreciate it!
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: John Kirby on August 30, 2011, 01:39 PM
I would suggest that next time you use a guy wire to get the bend. For a couple of reasons, one the bend could be much more acute and the tree would be less likely to trip someone innocently walking by. Given that, I agree with Matsu, you will need to bend it more to make it convincing- but you are off to a good start.

Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: Chrisl on August 31, 2011, 10:36 AM
Thanks John for the help.  May I ask?  If I used a guy wire, what would I attach the anchoring part of the wire to pull the branch forward and not so much downward?  That's been my conundrum about that branch. 

I'll work on getting the trunk bent more next year.   Thanks for the encouraging remarks John, it's nice to know at least I'm on the right road so to speak.

(btw, I just wanted to say how much I like this forum.  Not a lot of traffic, but also no stupid arguments I've seen on other, this forum has a group of fantastic and knowledgable people like John Kirby, Matsu, Coh, and many others.  Even though I'm 'not up to par' in my bonsai skills as everyone else, I've never felt put down or discouraged by my many beginner questions.  So I just wanted to say "Thanks" to all!)

Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: Chrisl on September 02, 2011, 11:50 AM
John and Matsu,

 I've given more thought to your suggestion to make more of a bend lower down in the trunk near the lowest jin.  I think you both are dead on.  I haven't done anymore work to the tree, but I've been 'testing' the flexibility of that lower trunk...and there isn't any.  The trunk there is about 1 1/2" thick.  How on earth am I going to bend more there next spring/summer?  Would one of these work? (

The only other idea I had, if this would work?, would be to overtime, with each repotting, bury the trunk into the soil till I get above that small shari.  I could then pot it at a more extreme angle and perhaps have better luck bending the upper trunk in a twist or downward?  I'm just trying to come up with ideas that might work.

Can you guys think of any other way to get some twist or bend to that lower trunk?  I'm thinking far ahead right now as I drew on a piece of paper what I'd like the tree to look like in say 5 yrs. And I don't think I can get what I envisioned on paper.  Besides, if I need a big bender like the above, or even this clamp: (
I can add it to my "Xmas Wish List" that I come up with every year lol

Thanks for any ideas or suggestions.
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: John Kirby on September 02, 2011, 05:25 PM
You can do it, it involves some lumber, raffia, large wire, rebar, guy wires. gouge/chisel/power tool. thick aluminum wire. Think fulcrum. Sitting in Heathrow, let's see if you can develop a plan. Cheers.
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: Chrisl on September 03, 2011, 11:45 AM
Wow John, that's quite an arsenal! lol  Cutting out a notch on the backside would get that trunk some flexibility.  I'll have to think how I can implement the rest of those methods.  (Just had an idea, I can scour uTube videos and see if there is any on bending the hell out of Shimpakus).  Thanks for the ideas, and for making me use my brain ;))  I remember stuff much better if I think of it myself anyway.   The only problem of using a fulcrum is making sure the tree in the pot is super secure so I don't damage the roots.

Oh, and John, I was lucky enough to track down Larry Jackel's Ponderosa Pine book...Amazon's out, ABS bookstore is out, and I must've gotten one of the last copies from Stone Lantern as it's no longer on their website.  But anyway, I enjoyed the book.  He covers the bases well, and having you and the other 5 bonsai artists give their personal experiences on PP's was brilliant.  And picking artists from various parts of the country was also very smart.  (My only gripe was that he mentioned he sometimes sprays lime sulfur on the plants to prevent disease.  But he didn't mention dilution rates and whether repeated sprays were necessary)  But it's minor.  Anyway, I just wanted to say "Good Job John"!
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: MatsuBonsai on September 03, 2011, 12:32 PM
There are a few theads on bending here, too.
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: Chrisl on September 03, 2011, 01:35 PM
Thanks John, I'll do a search and see what I can come up with.  Just by chance, I ran across these three articles on bending: (

I think the part about hallowing out the trunk to be able to add some twist seemed most applicable.
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: MatsuBonsai on September 03, 2011, 01:40 PM
I'm not sure carving or hollowing would be required on something as small as this n
Just some raffia, heavy wire, and a good jack.
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: Chrisl on September 04, 2011, 10:06 AM
Really??  Mine's considered small eh?  Puts things in perspective for me then.  But a jack??  I've used many to change tires, but can't even imagine how to use it to bend/twist trunks.  Unless? I wrap it up in raffia, apply say two runs of 6 g copper, lay the plant on it's side and secure, and then use the jack to manipulate the trunk?  Is this what you had in mind John? Or you mentioned using a fulcrum earlier, again, secure the tree from moving in it's pot/no root damage, and then somehow jury rig the jack, and say some rebar to induce the bend/twist to the trunk?....I'm trying John to develop a plan ;))
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: Chrisl on September 04, 2011, 11:18 AM
Please totally ignore that last post....I went to change it but too much time passed... Can the admin delete this post 14?

Here's what I wanted to say:  Matsu, I found your fantastic post about bending: (

On another thread, I see when you said a didn't mean a jack used to change tires but this "branch bender" from Dallas Bonsai: (

Great photos and explanations.  So let me see if I can apply this to mine.  First, wrap the trunk in raffia or elec. tape, wire it up with 2-6 g. copper wire runs.  Cut rebar to length to create a fulcrum at the point of the lowest jin at one end, and the other on at where I want the bend to begin, use the jack to squeeze the two parts fo the trunk together to make the bend, and hold it in place with guy wires and the copper wire runs.  Adjusting and/or adding additional guy wires to get it to the place where I want it?

I do believe this is what you and John were thinking of right?  If so, this is only good for bending, not creating any twisting movement to the trunk?

Thanks Matsu and John!  I've got more threads to read, but I think I have the basic understanding now...I think ;))
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: MatsuBonsai on September 04, 2011, 11:31 AM
You can see the branch bender ( on the table in the 7th picture, and the clamp ( on the tree.  I wouldn't recommend electrical tape.  Use the bender to make the bend, the clamp (if needed) to hold the bend while you attach the guy wire(s).  For larger bends additional lengths of wire can be applied vertically/lengthwise along the outside of the bend for additional support.  In my thread we hollowed the tree to remove some deadwood that wouldn't have allowed the tree to bend, and to allow for easier bending.

Here ('s what I think John Kirby may have been referring.
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: Chrisl on September 04, 2011, 12:12 PM
Thank You Matsu!!  I now see it.  And Thanks for that thread link of Johns'!  Wow!!  Mr. Akio is amazing!  What a bending job...I know see what you both  mean about using rebar, fulcrums, jacks/branch benders, clamps and guy wires.  Man, one almost needs an engineering degree to "work that magic" lol

I'm not so proficient at applying raffia despite Ryan Neil showing me exactly how to do it correctly.  That's why I thought using elec. tape would work.   But John was right in that thread, elec. tape does have a tendency to stretch so I see why he and Boon like using raffia.  I should practice this winter to see if I can get a tight wrap that holds.

Matsu and John, now that I've bookmarked those two great threads about bending.  Am I right to assume that I can use the same techniques to also induce some twisting movement to the trunk while bending it?  Seems if I'm smart enough to place the fulcrums where I want them, then I should be able to twist some movement in as well as the bending?...I'm still getting over that Pond. Pine's work....
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: MatsuBonsai on September 04, 2011, 12:19 PM
I'm not sure I would attempt to twist at this point.  I prefer to induce twists on material when it is younger, or start with material that already has some twist.  I don't think you'll be able to twist the main trunk, and twists in other areas wouldn't match the rest of the tree.  Best to continue with bends next year and continue to improve the overall image with what you currently have, and grow out what you don't.
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: Chrisl on September 05, 2011, 01:20 AM
Ok, Thanks Matsu for telling me what I also thought, but didn't want to admit  ;)  I was just hoping that it might be possible.  But you are right to do some bending next spring and work with what I have.  I need to be better at picking good stock; stock that will fit what I want to accomplish next time.  But I'll enjoy the tree I have and work to style it.  I know there's a great bonsai in there somewhere lol

Matsu, can you tell me where you'd make the bends this tree?  I don't want to bend it like a maple, ie) a zig zaging trunk.  And I don't want a classic cascade bonsai.  I want a Shimpaku that is contorted and shaped like a windswept informal semi cascade??, weathered (like the shari from the base scar to the base jins, and eventually up to the top jin.)  Since I can't twist it, (and I agree, twisting the top and not the bottom wouldn't look right), the contortions will have to be via bending.  I'd love to hear what you'd do as I really only have one idea, and I'm not sure it's that good lol  Most of the Shiimpaku's that I've see all have twists...esp. collected specimens.  But my idea is to bring the left dominant branch down and forward, while bending the trunk at the level of the lowest jins, about 135 degree down and forward that would continue the line of the dominant branch.
Does that make sense?  I sure hope so.  But anyway Matsu, I'd love to hear your approach to this bonsai as you have a lot more experience and I'm sure, you've seen many more Shimpaku's than I have.  (I am slowly making my way thru Mr. Kimura's "Magician" series 2.  Many awesome bonsai's that I'm trying to get ideas from.  But his trees are something else just to begin with ;) )

Thanks for all the help Matsu!  I can't Thank You enough for sharing your time and ideas!
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: John Kirby on September 05, 2011, 01:21 AM
The only point that I was trying to make was that you can bend Juniper material of just about any size with materials commonly found around the neighborhood without resorting to specialty equipment. Using a bonsai "C-clamp" style jack, and a fulcrum made from 1x2" material, anchored to a piece (or 3 wired together) of rebar can lead to a bend at a fairly precise place, and if raffia and large copper wire are used appropriately, a protected place. The same effect, though generally less acute and precise can be achieved with guy wires on slimmer material. The hollowing technique can be used with very specific planning so that you can both hide it and you get the bend that you are looking for, however be very careful with it, if you hollow and then bend a twist you may break all of the "life line" and kill the tree above the bend. As with most things, it is often best to work with someone who can walk you through the process, showing how to evaluate the bend as you move through it.

Larry's book was fun to participate in. The goal was to give folks a whole range of options that have worked for different locations, I think the key to it is that Ponderosa pines can be quite flexible and thrive in many climates if well cared for.
Title: Re: Shimpaku's Initial Styling
Post by: Chrisl on September 05, 2011, 01:46 AM
John you posted your note while I was typing out mine ;)  I see what you mean after seeing that Ponderosa Pine thread.  Incredible!  See what you think of my design thoughts I outlined above,  I'd love to hear your thoughts to what you might think would work with this specimen.  I removed the rebar today as you were right, it's too cumbersome and kinda dangerous lol  So tomorrow I'm going to redo the copper wiring to get it moving in the right direction till decide on the final design.

I'm taking a bonsai class from the bonsai curator at the Chicago Botanic Garden in October.  So I can bring this bonsai and get his opinion.  I've come to the conclusion that I may have to use bends and no twists, but if the bonsai master at the Garden has an idea, I'll be all ears.  I'd never do any major procedure because I don't understand the whole "life line" business that well.  I know what it means, just not how to work with it and not kill the tree.  

Oh, and John, IF I feel like I'm not getting much from the Garden's classes, I'll contact Matthew Ouwinga and take some classes from him.  Either way, I am seeking out help for further 'formal' education.  Frankly, I need it, and I can't wait!

May I also ask, how many layers of raffia do you use?  And after the wiring is on, do you apply another layer of raffia on top of the wire?  Seems kinda unnecessary to me....
Thanks John!