Wiring techniques can be applied easily when the student get hands on to do the job, otherwise it will seem mission impossible to fix the branches the way you wanted. For strong and firm type of wood e.g. pine tree, I would rather select a strong and thick wire whereby for softer and smaller branches the opposite. Wire is placed on the trunk and branches of bonsai for one purpose… to assist in making branches and trunks bend to the desired location. Like a hammer or a screwdriver, wire is a tool designed to accomplish a specific task in the most efficient manner possible. When it has served its purpose, it is removed. Interestingly, a segment of the population seems determined to believe that wiring a bonsai is the key to some sort of ancient Asian secret for keeping the tree small. People have ask if the purpose of the wire was to cause the tree great pain. They were sure that the creation of bonsai had something to do with the ancient Chinese practice of binding the feet of noble women. When I would smile and patiently explain what the wire was actually used for they seemed…. somehow…. disappointed. Wire serves the same purpose as braces on a child’s teeth. It is a temporary shaping device designed to be removed after it has done its job. We wire because it allows us, to train, to shape, to style and to create a bonsai that fits our aspiration and immagination! Bonsai is a living art form. It is a collaboration between nature and us. Wire provides us with our artistic license. That license gives us the freedom to place a branch where our imagination tells us one is needed. It allows us to give movement to the motionless. It provides us with the ability to supply stability where stability is required. Wire is an essential tool of the bonsai artist and wiring is an essential skill of the bonsai artist. So, it behooves anyone serious about bonsai to become proficient at
Understand The Task
|Professional Bonsai Wires|
Types Of Wire?
There are two types or kinds of wire used in bonsai: copper and aluminum. Copper wire is stronger, but in my experience, is less forgiving. If it is not monitored very closely, it will invariably bite into your bonsai, scaring bark and branches alike. Aluminum wire, on the other hand, has one-quarter the
strength of copper wire, but it is easier to apply and easier to remove. These two fundamental characteristics make aluminum wire an advantage for the beginner and a blessing for the experienced.
How Should You Wire?
|Bonsai with Japanese Maples by Peter Adams|
When Should You Wire?
If you grow deciduous trees, then early spring - before your bonsai leafs out - is a good choice, as a leafless tree allows you to see the entire branch structure clearly. As for when to remove the wire from
your bonsai, the safest answer is: before it bites into the bark of the tree. If you are using copper wire, checking weekly is prudent. If you are using aluminum wire, checking bi-weekly is advisable. You should only remove wire with the use of wire cutters. Trying to unwind a wire usually results in a crack or split, which is followed immediately by inconsolable weeping.
General Guidelines For Placement Of Wire On A Bonsai
1. If you are unsure about whether or not to remove a branch, it is usually better to wire the branch
2. Always begin with the thickest branches and the heaviest wire first. Gradually work toward thinner branches and thinner wire. This will greatly assist in the task of keeping the wire placement organized and orderly.
3. Avoid crossing wires when possible. Follow previous strands up the trunk and out the next branch. The result will be increased holding power and a much more professional appearance.
4. Wire needs to be applied so that it is snug against the bark with no spaces or gaps, yet not so tight that it cuts into and damages the bark. You should not be able to see daylight between the wire and the bark. Loosely applied wire will increase the risk of cracks or stress fractures in the branch.
5. Wire needs to be coiled at about a 45 degree angle perpendicular to the branch or trunk and placed snugly up against it. An angle of about 45 degrees seems to provide the best holding power. Wire coiled too close together will tend to behave like the spring on a screen door and will want to “spring” back. Wire coiled at an angle greater than 45 degree may leave such wide unsupported sections of the branch exposed that breaks and cracks may more easily occur. This is a critical consideration on heavier branches, but becomes less critical with smaller branches.
6. When wiring any given branch you have the choice of applying the wire in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Plan what you are doing. Don’t simply “throw” wire onto the tree. If your plan is to move a branch down and to the right then placing wire on the branch in a clockwise pattern will cause it to tighten slightly during the bending process. Counterclockwise placement would cause it to loosen slightly and therefore lose holding power. Think about what direction you are wiring and how you plan to bend the branch. Again, this is a consideration which is more critical for thicker branches than for thin ones.
7. Any given piece of wire applied to a tree needs to be secured to some other part of the tree if it is expected to hold when bending pressure is applied. A piece of wire has two ends. Always attempt to wire two branches (of the same diameter) with one piece of wire. When doing this make sure that the wire makes at least one circumference of the trunk (more if necessary) before going out the next branch. This “required” turn around the trunk will insure that when branch #1 is moved, it will not cause branch #2 to also move. Instead, the “torque” will be against the trunk and not the other branch being wired. If you have only one branch to wire, secure the opposite end with a couple of wraps around an adjacent branch.
8. When applying wire always support the branch being wired with the thumb and forefinger of your
9. Place wire on the outside of any intended curves or bends you plan to make. When bending a branch the wood of the tree is compressed on the inside of the curve and stretched on the outside of the curve. Placement of wire along the outside of the curve provides critical support where it is most needed.
10. To determine the correct gauge of wire needed to hold a branch securely in place you can try pushing on the branch with an extended piece of wire about 8 or 10 inches long. As you “push” against the branch you will discover that: 1. the branch will move, or 2. the wire will bend. If it is the wire that bends, it is probably of insufficient strength to hold once coiled into place. Go to the next thickest diameter and repeat the test. At some point the wire will remain rigid and the branch will move. This is probably indicates you have selected a gauge of wire sufficiently thick enough to hold the branch securely. Note that we said probably.
If the branch does not remain in its new position, you have two options: 1. remove the wire and replace it with a heavier gauge that will hold, or 2. Place another strand of wire on the same branch by coiling it alongside the first one.
The development of good wiring technique is dependent upon practice more than any other thing. Remember that if the branch goes where you bent it and does not break… you did it correctly.
Admittedly you will probably use more wire than necessary in the beginning and its organizational structure on the tree will look a little like a road-map in the mountains, but with time and practice your technique will improve. And try to work its placement into the final design than to cut it off. The branch can always be removed after the fact.
|Bonsai Tool Set from Japan|
Bring the wire to the tree and rotate the wire slightly as you wrap it about the branch. This rotation will cause it to seat more snugly against the branch. When working with very thick wire you will find a pair of wire pliers handy for assisting with this task. When that wrap is complete, inch forward with your thumb and forefinger and support the next section as you apply the next wrap. Continue in this manner until you have reached the end of the branch. This technique guarantees that the branch will always have the solid support of the artist’s hand as the wire is moved into place and that unnecessary breaks will be avoided.