The Student of the Copper Wire : The Two Trees

This weekend marks the first trees that I have ever fully wired in copper wire.

I subscribe to Mirai Live (Ryan Neil’s training site) for the majority of my training, and another viewer commented that they are afraid of copper wire and always use aluminum wire because it is so much easier to work with and bend. If you’ve ever watched Ryan Neil videos, you’ll know that he’s pretty..blunt (in a good way).

Ryan essentially said “stop being afraid of copper wire and just do it”. So I decided to listen. I purchased my first real set of copper wire from Adam’s Bonsai (use them, it’s a great deal).

Don’t be afraid

I also chose a couple of victims (trees) for the weekend.

I showed this tree off in a previous post, and mentioned that it needed some strong “help”.

Need to tame this upward tendency

I see nice bones in this tree and it has great movement in the trunk. I’ll possibly graft some lower foliage onto this, but that’s for a different day (in the way future). For now, this is what I see generally.

How close can we get?

I say “generally” because I always let the tree decide what’s going to happen to it as I go. There’s going to be cases that a branch just wont go the way you want it to go. You may place a branch where you wanted it to go and the foliage looks great there, but the branch itself looks terrible. I like to come up with a general idea of where I’m going and then let the tree figure out how close we can get or if we even want to go there at all.

First order of business is cleaning. This tree has been let go for a long time, so there’s a lot of cleaning. Any weak or dead pieces are first to go. Next to go is all of the pieces growing straight up, downwards, or young growth growing from in-between branches.

Pinching off downward growth

When I got into the tree, I almost immediately broke a fairly thick branch. Made note that those can’t go as far as I’d like, and went from there. The thinner branches didn’t give me any complaints, so I used those to go into the lower positions. Here’s what I ended up with.

Initially styled!

Not bad for an initial structural styling on a tree that probably hadn’t had any styling in at least 3-4 years. Once it gains some strength, I’ll come back and make some choices on branching. For now my goal was just to set major positions, let air and light at the pads, and get some actual foliage pads developing.

Tree #2! So I actually worked on this one first, but like a good Tarantino movie, sometimes a story works better if you throw in some flashbacks and don’t tell the viewer that it’s a flashback. But then later do tell the viewer it was a flashback… It was a flashback 🙂 Anyways.. Tree number two.

I like this one

I was very excited to work on this one. It’s hard to see without sticking your head into the tree, but it has some really nice bones. Good movement (in some places), decently thick trunk, and good moveable tertiary branches.

First order of business is cleaning. This tree has clearly been styled in the past, but was let go for a couple of years. See how much more light and air can get into the tree after basic initial cleaning?

A bit fluffier

Second order of business is to drop some lower branches into position. My only real goal with this tree is to create some movement in the lines, and to create windows into the tree to see the best portions.

Starting to see some of the structure

Here, I got to a bit of an issue. There are two major branches there competing to create the apex. One goes almost straight upwards, and then back to the right. To create movement in the tree, we want the apex to go left, so *SNIP*. This second branch is shaped better and allows us to create movement in the apex.

Yellow is what we like. Red lacked movement and direction

Here’s my final design. Some of the foliage is a bit dense still, but I’m leaving it a bit dense because I took off a good amount of foliage. We’ll be letting some of the foliage extend a bit to fill in some gaps and to create more movement.

Set and ready for some growing

I also like this little feature.

Could be interesting

This whole branch has been stripped of foliage, and when it start to dry out, the bark will be stripped. We then have that little piece of foliage extending under the branch to attempt to draw your eye there.

Let me know what you think! This is the first time I’ve ever fully wired a tree in copper wire. This is also probably the most structurally-set tree that I have ever worked on. I typically work on trees that are nursery stock material. Let me know in the comments where we should go from here. Any parts of the design that you would do differently?

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