Bonsai without Borders in China Demo tree

At the Bonsai without Borders event in China December 2016, 70 artists each had a juniper to work, there were no egos, artists worked alongside each other Kobayashi worked alongside, Serjio, Nacho, Mauro, Bjorn, Ofer, Leigh, Yannick, Nik and many more artists from across the world it was a leveller, NOT a competition but every brought there top game to the event.

tony-with-tree

Each artist drew a lot and allocated a tree from the number drawn. Mine ‘28’ the tree was not easy from the start, ALL the foliage was far from the base of the trunk and it was not nice foliage to work. It was very interesting to see the differing styles and approaches to the problems presented. The organisers wanted the tree potted up. I was not happy about this but they wanted to see ‘finished’ trees. I selected an oversize cascade pot, the main rootball of the juniper was hardly touched in the repotting so I was happy that the tree would survive this stage.

Watch the video and see the result.

My Demo at The National Bonsai Exhibition in the US

Bill Valavanis trusted me with this Hinoki Cypress, the tree was simply too tall and the style was lost, having previously worked by Corin Tomlinson a few years ago my job was to bring the tree back on track. I pre-wired most of the lower branches in the morning prior to the demo that took place at noon. This is because watching somebody wire a tree for a couple of hours is frankly mind numbing.

I attempted to create some drama with the upper part of the tree by making a twisted jin, this works superbly on green wood however the heartwood of the tree was too stiff making the bending impossible. I noted at the start of the demo that it may well be cut off if the technique was not successful.

I was very pleased that the finished tree made a record figure in the Auction at the end of the event.

Thanks to Bonsai Empire for recording the demo, take a look at their website here, its full of great content.

Technique explained – Sandblasting a Yamadori Yew Bonsai

I sandblasted my first deadwood way back in 1992 and I guess I have blasted over 50 trees since then, I have perfected the technique of protecting the live veins, foliage and soil so that the aggressive nature of this technique does not upset the wellbeing of the tree.

As will any intervention on a bonsai the tree MUST be in great health. Never work on a tree that is recently collected yamadori or is not in the best health. This tree has grown well over the last three years and the deadwood was desperate to be worked. If I had waited another year the foliage would have restricted the access to in inner part of the tree, this is where the most interesting areas of deadwood are on view.

A few days before I removed an upright trunk and disguised by carving and stripping the cut, this can be seen in the photos as a bright orange area.

The process:

  • Gather the foliage up and bind with fine wire so that you have access to the live vein.
  • Using air-dried modelling clay cover the live veins right to the edge and at least 4mm thick, When dry (about 3 days) cover with Duck tape.
  • Completely cover over the soil and as close to the base of the trunk as possible, I use rubber inner tubes first then bind with commercial cling wrap.
  • Wrap the foliage in an old towel and then cover with a thick plastic bag.

The Blasting:

  • I use a commercial blasting service, you can find these locally via the internet.

The results are simply amazing, the deadwood is clean the splinters are removed from the branches I have snapped and all the detail is revealed. I do not put Lime Sulphur on immediately, as I like the wood to weather slightly prior to application.

ABC4 Africa Bonsai Convention 2015: Cape Town

Next Year I am pleased to say that I am one of three International presenters with Ryan Neil and Francois Jeker at http://www.abc4.co.za/ This is coming together to be a great show, I am looking forward to meeting all the guys who I have been chatting to on Facebook and here on my Blog. This is only two weeks after Bonsai Europa… so its going to be a busy time.

South Africa event screen grab