|Tips and Techniques - Extreme Bends|
American Bonsai Society
Tips and Techniques
By Julian Adams
We all are familiar with the use of wire to bend small and pliable wood on bonsai. When the wood is thick or very stiff, it is often difficult to use wire alone to make the desired bends, particularly if the bends have a small radius. Small radius (severe) bends on thick or stiff wood require quite a bit of force. If one uses wire that is big enough to apply the needed force, it is hard to apply. It is also very likely that the bark will be damaged in the process. The use of guy wires, rods, and fulcrums in conjunction with smaller (and more manageable) wire gets the job done with much less work and much less chance of bark damage. Figure 1 shows a pair of short radius curves being trained onto a substantial Scots pine. Two different techniques are used in combination. Part of the trunk is bent using the rod and fulcrum technique. The forces which bend the trunk are applied by tie wires at either end of the rod. The opposing force is applied by the fulcrum, in this case a softwood block. By attaching the tie wires to the copper wire on the trunk, the bending forces are distributed over a wider portion of the trunk thereby reducing the chance of substantial marking or damage to the trunk. An adjacent portion of the same trunk is being bent through the use of a guy wire. In this case the copper wire on the trunk was not strong enough to hold the desired bend. A loop of steel wire was attached to the appropriate locations on the copper wire and then tightened to bring about the desired bend. The tightening is done by twisting the steel guy wire loop to draw the end points closer together. In this example a common nail was used to twist the wire and it is visible in the photo. Various combinations of these methods of force application can bring about bending that would otherwise be impossible.