Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Being a professional bonsai artist, means that even on your day off, you work.
Unless of course you are away from home at some convention or something. But when you are home, there is always something to be done.
I have to balance my time between planning for demo's, workshops, working on clients collections, teaching at home and abroad before I can think of working on my own trees. Then of course there's keeping on top of the weeds and nettles in the nursery that are growing like triffids this year due to the months of rain we have had.
This year has been so bad for weeds, and I have been so busy that I am embarressed to say that the weeds have actually got on top. Unfortunately I am not in the situation where, if this were Japan, I could deploy my apprentises to weed pull.
I can still remember clearly the weed pulling and needle collecting on my hands and knees that I did every morning for several hours in the nursery of Hotsumi Terakawa. Armed with a pair of tweezers and a plastic bucket, I would tidy the display area in the nursery every morning before being allowed near a tree or pot. But that's another story.

Today is a 'free' day for me in theory. So obviously there was something that needed doing. I could have done some weeding, but I was desperate to work on one of my own trees. I sometimes find that working on other peoples trees week in and week out can make you crazy to work on your own trees. I also find working on my own trees ignites my passion for bonsai when sometimes I feel stale.
So I decided to do some work on the deadwood of a few junipers that I am developing.
Here are a few images showing how over time deadwood can be developed/enhanced.

(Click any image to enlarge)


Just like the foliage on a tree, the deadwood can be worked on and maintained over time.
Whether I create deadwood on a tree or I collect or buy a tree that already has deadwood. I am always looking to improve the texture of the wood. For me it is not just about the shape of the deadwood. It is too easy to get wrapped up in the deadwood, and carving in particular and to focus on this and miss the bigger picture.

Even when you are happy with the look of the deadwood you have created, there is then the maintenance work which must be done regularly to make sure you keep the wood in good condition. Remember, if you have green on your deadwood, it is not just a colour. Try to think of it as something eating away at your trees deadwood. For that reason, don't just lime sulphur your deadwood when it gets algae and turns green. Try to treat your wood several times a year before it gets the algae. When you are stood looking at your trees thinking how perfect they look and you wished there was something to do, THERE IS! Get your brush out and lime sulphur your deadwood.

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