“Little Samurai”


This is an amazing chuhin size Juniperus chinensis that I was offered from Japan. I bought this tree for a friend and client who is a great bonsai lover and collector.

We are lucky to have bonsai collectors like this in Europe, as it allows people the opportunity to see Japanese trees of high quality which they might not otherwise see without going to Japan.

When the tree arrived from Japan it had changed a little from the “offered” images. The large jin “tail” had been allowed to bend back out from the tree toward the viewer as can be seen in the photos. The wires were now too tight and starting to bite and the foliage was now a little too dense.

I personally did not like the new position of the jin, but the tree was not mine. However my client also was not happy with this new position of the jin and the first thing he asked me was could I re-bend the jin back. So we discussed the tree and I told him my ideas for addressing the changes in the tree. My work on the tree is fairly straight forward, there are no dramatic transformations. The objective is simply to return the tree to an ordered state; any changes I have made have been subtle.

The first thing was to de-wire the tree before any permanent damage was done by the wire cutting in. The tree was then left to grow throughout the growing season unchecked with an eye on its health and to ensure an easy transition from Asia to the UK.

My first work entailed steam bending the now stiff jin back in towards the tree and securing it to stop any movement until the jin dries and seasons over time.

Then I thinned out the foliage, taking out unwanted branches and also balancing the remaining foliage.

The tree was then re-wired to give me total control of the design.

The tree was exhibited at the Ginkgo Awards in Belgium and has been selected for BCI-IBS Convention Saint Vincent Aosta Valley 2008.

Little Samurai

This is the first image I had of the tree in Japan. An amazing chuhin size juniper.

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This is the tree as it arrived from Japan. Here you can clearly see how the foliage is a little overgrown and the how the jin has been allowed to bend out away from the tree. Not quite like the original image.

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In this close up of the foliage, you can see the health of the tree and the need for thinning out.

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This is the tree in my studio after bending the jin back into place.

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This is the tree after the work is finished. This is the left side of the tree.

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This is the right side of the tree.

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This is the tree viewed from behind

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This is the tree as seen from the front with my work completed. You can now compare the subtle changes I have made here with the image of the tree in Japan.

The big “tail” jin is now back in place but I have positioned it slightly right of its original position. For me the jin is not competing with the deadwood behind now, where before I felt there was a little too much visual clutter.

The Ten jin (top left) emerging from the foliage I have not exposed so much. Its emergence is now subtle, but I have opened up the foliage within the tree to show the jin passing up through the design drawing the viewers eye into the tree rather than out of the tree.

And finally I have brought the foliage pads together slightly more to give a better flow as the pads descend and making full use of the trunks cantilever shape to stabilise the image.

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Photo courtesy of Willy Evenepoel, Belgium Bonsai Association