Bonsai tree: A twisting black pine

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bonsai tree: A twisting black pine

Source: Bonsai Tonight
A twisting black pine

The back pine below appeared on the turntable and I was asked to make the tree “more beautiful.” What an unusual tree!


Twisted pine

Before looking very closely, I immediately got to work plucking old needles. That gave me a chance to study the tree and let me put off figuring out what to do with it. Once the tree was clean, Oyakata – Mr. Tanaka of Aichi-en – asked what I wanted to do with the tree. I said I wanted to make it more compact and wanted a tiny bit of foliage to poke out on the right side. I thought about doing that by bending the top part of the trunk to the right. That would have the effect of undoing the final curve in the trunk. Tanaka suggested that I think about bending the trunk even further to the left. If the tree is funky, go with it, he said. Sounded great to me. I haven’t done a lot of heavy bends on black pines so I had fun wrestling branches with bare hands and jacks to get it into shape.

Guy wire

Stainless steel guy wire

This opened up quite a few cracks along the branches. I was told they’d heal just fine, so I added cut paste and moved on to the next bend.


Openings in the bark after making a severe bend

Before long, the branches were covered with screws and wires.

Guy wire

The result of bending the trunk 4″

Guy wire

Guy wire with screws



Wired branches

Branches wired

When I finished positioning the branches, Tanaka spent a few minutes pointing the branches upwards and moving them closer to the trunk. I had positioned the braches farther apart and pointed the buds outward. Why make the change? Mostly to improve the tree’s silhouette.

Front - after

Wiring complete

It was 10:30 p.m. when I finished working on the tree – about 12 hours in the workshop. What a fun way to start a bonsai vacation!

Here are some shots of the tree from different angeles to offer a better idea of how twisted the thing is.
Front – before

Front - after
Front – after

Right side
Right – before

Right side - after
Right – after

Left side
Left side – before

Left side - after
Left side – after

Back – before

Back - after
Back – after

I’ll be curious to see how the branches withstand the big bends. I’ll ask Peter Tea for a photo if the tree’s still around next year.


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