Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Post 146 Tables complete

Just to finish off what I started in my last post I've now finished painting my new display tables.
Four coats of Cabots water soluble varnish stain in deep mahogany give a nice satin finish and a good deep colour and you can still see the grain of the timber. It is surprising how well the simple old domestic pine has come up.

Here is the larger of the tables supporting a nice twin trunk swampy. Making the tables and finishing in a very traditional colouring and finish, reinforces the minor part the table plays in the overall composition. The focus is always on the tree and while the table must reach a certain minimum standard, once done it becomes quite invisible.
Having the tree up at a better height increases this effect. The observer's eyes and senses are much better served by being within the trees height range than above it, focussing attention even further away from the display table.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Post 145 Display Tables

Yes I know the pottery has taken a bit of a back seat lately with one thing and another. One of those things is a little carpentry but most certainly bonsai carpentry.

I got a bee in my bonnet a while ago about display height at exhibitions, The tables at most venues are the stock standard 'sit down and eat at' type and only about 700mm to 750mm high; not nearly the right height to view bonsai, especially the smaller ones.
Back in January I spent a little time researching exhibitions around the world and posted on the results. Have a look here.
The optimal height looks to be around 1100 for best viewing of most trees.

To cut a long story short I committed to making some display tables to get my trees up a bit next time I have the opportunity to display at a show. The next chance looks like being in May so it was time to turn ideas into action.

As you can see my pottery workshop has reverted to carpentry with the slab roller now a very useful bench. Any wonder I can never find my pencil.
I'm making three tables, all 350mm high and with different top sizes.

 Here are the first two, to a similar design, relatively easy to execute with mostly right angles. The third one, larger again, is still in construction. It will have slightly tapered and splayed legs; just a little more complex in the build.

I'm using stock standard pine so they'll be a little prone to bumps but it's easy to work with and comes in a variety of sizes that means there is less preparation to be done. I'll put the wear and tear down as patina. When all done I'll stain and varnish with a mahagony colouring. I've been at these for a few days now - man it takes some time, and I'd say at least another full one left to finish up, including three coats of paint.
More pots soon!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Post 144 Ficus hairpin graft update

In late November last year I grafted two new branches into position on a Small Leaf Queensland Fig, Ficus obliqua. The technique used was 'hairpin insertion' grafting. At the time I posted a step by step pictorial of the grafts being placed, in Post 132.

Since then the graft material grew initially and then went through a long period of dormancy. I thought they had failed but then more recently they are showing signs of vigour again.

This is a picture of one of them at the time they were set about Nov 24.

This is a picture of the same scion now. I have outlined the material in white to help pick it out. As you can see the shoot has extended quite a bit and filled out. The growth tip is quite fresh and showing all the signs of being active.

 Here it is in close-up. It might just be my imagination but I'd bet the 'leaving' branch diameter is greater than the 'joining' one, and despite the wire to secure it in position it feels pretty tight.

This is a picture from the other side showing the other graft. Same thing with it - looking good.
As to the dilemma of when is a hosted graft ready to separate the answer is clearly when the leaving branch is heavier than the joining branch and the graft is strong. These are close but there is no harm in letting them run a little longer.

With the peak of the summer heat now over we are moving into our autumn growth flush. This little burst of growth is just what is needed to completely secure these grafts before winter.

It's not over yet but at this point I'm very happy with the result. The only improvement I can see now is to take the hairpin much deeper into the trunk. These ones showed a tendency to work their way out of the drilled hole as they gained weight.
I really like the way the grafted branch is in a normal position relative to the trunk, a much better result than possible with an approach graft.