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Tip of the Week  #16

Wiring - Basic Techniques


Welcome to our next installment of  "Tips Of The Week".

This feature is for the benefit of visitors to this site, I would be happy to hear from you if there is something you would like to see covered here in future weeks. Please direct your E-mail to let me know if I should include your first name, last name, city, E-mail address or no acknowledgement.

Interested in past articles? There's a list at the bottom of the page.

Trimming is the first method of shaping bonsai trees that most hobbyists learn. While mastering trimming takes time, patience, and an understanding of the subject tree, I doesn't take much skill or daring to grab a scissor and trim a branch or twig. Wiring, on the other hand, fills many beginners with fear that boarders on dread. The problem is that without wiring skills, you will be severely limited in what you can achieve with your bonsai collection.

As with all other aspects of bonsai cultivation, you can learn to wire with a little time, patience and practice.  Almost every bonsai book has an article ranging from a paragraph to a page on wiring.  If you're fortunate enough to have access to "Bonsai Today Magazine" Issue #1, you'll find a 20 page tutorial on wiring, complete with an extensive collection of color photos and diagrams.  By all means, read whatever you can on the subject, but until you "take the bull by the horns" and actually start wiring, your education won't leave square one.

The best approach is to cut a thin branch from a tree to practice on.  If you don't have a tree on your property, make sure to get permission from the owner of the tree first.  Wrapping the branch and gently bending it will familiarize you with how much the branch can bend without breaking, and what gauge wire is needed for a given branch thickness.  When I began to learn to wire, I experimented on myself. I held the end of a piece of wire with my thumb, and wrapped it around my index finger. It's a good way to tell how tight you are wrapping the wire, and possibly prevent damaging your subject.

Pay attention to the relationship between the branch and the wire. Wire which is too thin won't hold the branch. Wire that is too thick can damage the branch. Wrap the wire around the branch, don't bend the branch around the wire. The result of doing that is a "corkscrew" branch that looks very unnatural. Cut your wire to equal 1-1/2 times the length of the branch to be wired. This will allow for coiling around the branch.   To prevent the wire from slipping when you bend the branch, find a branch close to the branch to be wired, make a "hook" on the end of the wire, and attach it to the "anchoring" branch.  Wrap the wire around the trunk and onto the subject branch.  The wire should make contact with the subject branch on the plane of the direction of the bend.   If the branch is to be bent down, make first contact on the top, et cetera. when you bend the branch, the wire will tighten slightly, making for better holding power.

There are more aspects of wiring than can be covered here. The important thing is to get out there and wire. Your skills will improve with each branch you work on.

Interested in past articles? Click for your choice below.

#1-Things to do in the spring

#2-Forest Plantings

#3-Planning a trimming schedule

#4-Trimming Japanese Maples (And other trees with opposing Buds)

#5-Trimming Chinese Elms (And other trees with alternating Buds)

#6-Trimming Conifers (Such as Pine, Juniper and Cypress)

#7-Improving Your Bonsai Skills

#8-Things to Remember During the Winter Months

#9-Some Thoughts About Tree Roots. Their Strengths & Weaknesses

#10-Potting Medium: The Foundation of a Bonsai

#11-Growing Bonsai Under Artificial Light.

#12-The Importance of Moss, How To Get It & Put It On a Bonsai.

#13-The Right Tool For The Job.

#14-Root Over Rock Planting.

#15-Wiring - Copper or Aluminum?

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