The idea for this article came from Barry,
a reader from New York City.
"Wiring." Such a little word. Such a BIG
subject. If you're new to bonsai, you probably consider wiring a minor
part of the art. Nothing is further from the truth. It is true to the
extent that it will take more then one article to cover it. The first
part will explore the different types of wire, and some of the advantages
& disadvantages of each. While not a difficult skill to master, wiring
is much more complicated and important an area then one might suspect.
The first thing you must decide is what kind of wire to use. Copper or
Copper wire is easy to find, and when annealed
(heated until it turns a glowing red, then cooled) it's fairly easy to
bend, and becomes hard as it is bent. This allows a thinner
gauge wire to hold a given size branch in place. In addition,
it oxidizes rapidly to a deep brown color that blends well with most branches. The
disadvantages of copper wire are that it is difficult to remove from the
branch, shouldn't be cut with anything other then a bonsai wire cutter,
and is difficult to impossible to re-use.
Aluminum wire is less readily available, and in
it's natural state, is silver in color. It is very unattractive
on a branch. It doesn't have the holding power of the same
gauge copper wire. On the upside, anodized aluminum wire has
the color of aged copper wire, is available from almost any bonsai dealer,
is very easy to wrap around branches, and unwrap. This means
the same piece can be used over and over. It comes in nine
sizes, and the lesser branch holding ability can be overcome by using
a thicker gauge.
For the longest time, although I sold it, I refused
to use aluminum wire. I guess I considered it "non traditional". While
wiring a Japanese White Pine one day, I ran out of a needed size of copper
wire. I had no choice other then using aluminum wire. Within
a week or two, I was hooked. To this day, I rarely use copper
wire. There is a place for both types of wire. You
will have to decide which is best for you and your bonsai collection.
My suggestion is to experiment with both, and see which you prefer.
In the next installment I'll (finally)
get into the actual wiring techniques.