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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rebar for bonsai?

Today I'm going to talk about another large overgrown nursery juniper and how rebar is used to create a bonsai. It's another Chinese Juniper that came from a nursery that rents plants to the movie industry. To give you an idea of how big it is the table it's sitting is 3 feet in diameter.
It's a little hard to even see what is inside there so I'm going to remove a couple of branches to expose the trunk and see what we have.

After a little more branch removal two trunks going in separate directions are revealed. Not really ideal for bonsai purposes. Here is one view.

And one from the other side.
After studying the tree for awhile and considering a variety of options I decided the upper picture shows what will be the front of the tree and that I needed to bring the tall trunk growing to the right back over to the left so that the top was more centered over the base. What this means is bending a trunk, as big around as a soda can, about 4-5 inches in the opposite way from which it is growing. It's a relatively easy matter to bend small branches around but a trunk this size is going to require something more than some wire and bending by hand.

The first step involves wrapping the trunk where we want to bend it in raffia. Then we applied two lengths of  5 mm aluminum wire to the back side of the area to be bent. Those were tied on with a couple of small pieces of raffia then another full layer of raffia was applied to insure that there were no gaps. If any gaps are left and parts of the trunk are not supported by the raffia, breakage is apt to incur at those points. Being sure the raffia overlaps itself the whole length to be bent, gives even support throughout against the pressure required to make the bend.

Looking at this picture below it becomes obvious that we won't be using both trunks. That sling shot looking vee is not attractive at all. It looks like the trunks are trying to run from each other.
Now finally we'll get to the rebar!
I'm going to attach a piece of rebar to the trunk at the point I want to bend and use it as leverage to make the bend.
First I covered the end of the rebar with a rubber pad to protect the trunk then I tied it to the trunk using wire with rubber tubing to protect the trunk. Now with the strength of the rebar and the extra length I can get enough leverage to make this bend. Note the slight curve in the trunk above. Now note the curve in the same area after  starting the bend.
I use the stub of the second trunk to tie a guy wire too, to hold the trunk in place after bending. Now I need to get some movement in the upper part of the trunk. Since I don't have a handy place for a guy wire I need to use heavy wire to hold it in place after the bending.
I used a Japanese made branch bender to help with the leverage needed to make this bend. Note how much movement we've been able to get in the trunk.
This is probably about enough stress on the tree for one day. Now I think I'll let the tree recover for a few weeks before doing anymore work on it.  Then I'll wire and place all the branches and I'll do quite a bit of carving on the remains of the second trunk as well as a little jin and shari on this one.
Here is the result of the work now. I have a couple of options for the front which are what the arrows on the can are for.

So that is how rebar can be used in bonsai. I'm looking forward to the next step with this tree. I hope you enjoyed this post and remember I welcome any comments or suggestions.

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