Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Art of Bonsai" with Master Walter Liew (Sessions 4 & 5) bonsai classArt of Bonsai
- Wiring and Form...

This is a summary of the last 2 classes. In these last 2 classes we observed the mistakes that we all made when wiring our trees. Then we observed the techniques Master Liew used to decide what style of bonsai is best suited for the tree and finally how to style them. I started the night with a practice shot of the building at twilight. Something that Realtors always try to capture. Anyway... bonsai classI think this Windward Community College Campus is really nice. Look at the design of the buildings and the Ko'olau Mountain Range in the back.

The wire used for bonsai is a special wire sold in nursery or garden stores that specialize in bonsai equipment and tools. It's an aluminum wire that is available in several different gauges, but usually there are only 2 main sizes that you need for working on these types and sizes of bonsai. The picture of the 2 wires below has a nickel (5 cents) profile in it so you can relate to the thickness of the wire. The wire is soft enough to bend and form around the tree trunk and branches. It's best to have it wrapping at a 45 degree angle. The thicker wire is for the trunk and larger branches and the thin wire is for your smaller limbs. bonsai bonsai bonsai class
After securing, with wire, each branch that you will be using in your style, you then cut off the branches that are not used. Sometimes you may reserve an extra branch at a spot that you think one branch may turn out more artistic than the other. Later on, you will pick the nicer branch. Every inch of the tree trunk and its branches must have a curve. If there is any part of the tree that is more than 1 inch of straight branch, it's not done according to bonsai style. bonsai classI think this tree has style. It's one of Master Liew's show pieces. It is an art so really, he says, "as long as it is beautiful, it can be art". I'm sure some "straight" trees might look beautiful, but I think when it's in contrast with a styled tree most artisans will choose the styled tree. bonsai bonsai class
Above are our Hackberry Trees before styling...

Below are our Hackberrry Trees after styling... bonsai bonsai class
I took those just outside of the classroom. I forgot to take the picture in the lighted classroom, but we needed to make sure that if any branches bend in transport, we know how it's supposed to look. Our trees both had twin trunks. He decided that both our trees were best suited for the style he called "Lovers" or "Father & Son" or "Husband & Wife" etc. This style is actually 2 "Literati" style trunks with "Model" tops. As you can see, although they are the same style, they are different. Kelli's one has that infinity looking 8 in it. Master Liew says it's supposed to represent me doing everything I can to make her happy!!! That might be good for her, but is that good for ME?? =P He always has a story or theme to go with the tree style and that is part of the reason why his bonsai are so popular amongst the art and culture enthusiasts. He is afterall a Ph.D. The story of Kelli's tree style also has some traits known as the Phoenix and the Dragon style. Of course, he's quite a salesman...

Below are the trees in daylight after about 5 days from the night of becoming styled. No new leaves or branches yet, but it's surviving the manipulation. bonsai bonsai class bonsai classHere's a close up of the wiring and the bends in the "Model" styled section of the bonsai. Now we have to go practice buying our own trees. Part of the lesson is being able to choose the right tree to create the style of bonsai that you want. I want to try and find a tree to make a nice "Full Cascade". We're loving this class and recommend anyone who has the slightest interest to take it!
Related Links: Master Walter Liew Googled, Google Maps of Dragon Garden, Yellowpages Dragon Garden Listing, Full Size Photo Album, My Bonsai Posts.


  1. Hackberry tree? That's an interesting name. Anywho, it's great that you are learning about Bonsai!

  2. Matt- It's really interesting. The philosopy, history and culture of the art is so interesting. I almost think I would actually take a real college semester of Philosophy and Culture of Bonsai if there was such a course by Master Liew. Maybe you should go to join the bonsai club he has. I am certain we will join.

  3. bonsai is so cool! my neighbor in Hawaii teaches classes at his house.

Thanks for your comments. I'll need to screen them first to make sure it's a family friendly comment.

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