Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Rebar Basic on Black Pine
The day Mr. Tanaka left the nursery to bring trees to Kokufu-ten, he tasked me to style this Japanese Black Pine that belongs to a customer. He said to me, “this is a strange tree and may be difficult to make look good.” I asked Mr. Tanaka how much I can do to the tree and he said all I needed to do is wire the tree and make it look nice. I took that to mean that I shouldn’t do anything drastic to the tree… As you’re probably wondering why the title of this article included, “rebar,” seems to contradict, “shouldn’t do anything drastic to the tree.” Though many Bonsai hobbyist often correlate drastic work with the use of rebar, it turns out that rebar can be used for basic things and can be very simple to use with some practice. In this article, I will talk about how I used rebar to slightly bend the trunk of the tree and completely change the feeling and the overall look of the tree. For those of you who do not know what rebar is, it is short for reinforcing bar. It’s pretty much a iron bar that is used inside concrete structures to make them stronger.
I sat in the workshop for awhile looking at this tree trying to figure out what I was going to do with it. This is what I came up with and here are the reasons. Since the tree has already been somewhat styled for this side to be the front, I decided to continue using it but with some slight modification. I picked this front because it showed off the most movement in the trunk. I also thought that if I reduced the lean of the tree I could get the two trunks to complement each other better. The biggest problem with this tree is that the main trunk splits off into two trunks and are going in the opposite direction from each other. They also both have a good amount of foliage on each trunk. Perhaps I could have made a twin trunk tree but I wasn’t a big fan that the trunk separated half way up the tree so that didn’t happen. I decided to try and make this tree a one trunk tree and make the smaller trunk into a branch instead. Most people would try and hide the strange smaller trunk but I decided to bend it down and show off the strangeness with a more compressed curve. A simple guide wire and the second trunk bent down without any problems. The next thing I did was wire the branches on the main trunk and bend them down.
So why rebar?
There are two reasons why using rebar was appropriate for the bend that I wanted to do. 1. The length of the rebar gave me more leverage to bend and requires less work on my part (lazy?). 2. Using rebar allows me to pinpoint where I wanted the bend to occur. Here is how I set it all up.