Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Post 166 Celtis yamadori

The whole growing season has gone by and my celtis yamadori stumps are about to leap out of their blocks for their second season.
I collected these guys in July 2013 and put some of them in the ground to grow and others in poly boxes. During the season I let them grow and then pruned them back to short stubs and allowed them to run again.
With spring just around the corner and some of them starting to produce new shoots it looked time to set them up again with a root and branch prune. I found the ones that were in the ground not too much different in growth from the ones in the poly boxes, but it was much harder to get down there and look at them for early styling.
I have left two in the ground that don't look too prospective and now have all the others in larger containers and boxes above ground for the next season.

They had all produced plenty of roots and filled their containers but not as many as I would have liked in close to the trunk, so I've further reduced the large roots I'd previously retained and repotted them. At some time soon I'll probably evaluate a new soil line and do a drilled hole and toothpick layering to get surface roots where I want them.

 This was the one that had previously been chopped in situ and produced a mass of very strong leaders. I've now got multiple branches developing from these and started to get a fan like flaring happening. It looks like it will be a great fused forest in the future.

As you see for the others I'm not interested yet in refinement just focused on getting taper and movement on the new leaders, so I will maintain the grow and cut for quite a few more cycles to come. As soon as they shoot the first priority will be to select which shoots to keep and then point them in the right direction. I would like to stick to the bi-furcation strategy and select only two new branches/leaders for each of those already in place. With them all in boxes now it will also be easier in the coming season to start with a little carving to shape the original chops before the sealing goes too much further. Once there are some new roots to get them stabilised that will be the time. I can see some promise in some of these and am looking forward to the coming season to make something more of them.
I've just removed 8 decent lilly pilly stumps from the garden and have them in boxes recovering. Not many roots between them but the new shoots are still standing up. If they survive I'll have another interesting project coming up.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Post 165 Bonsai table consturction - final

After finishing the basic build the final step is the finishing, always the most telling.
No preliminary photos this time. From the finished job the process was sanding with successively finer sandpaper down to about 280 mesh. If you were much more serious you'd go on to 800 mesh but that's not for me.

From then you are then faced with basically two alternatives; stain followed by varnish or stain and varnish in the one product. The problem with the combined stain varnish product is that it is much more like a paint and after three coats any woodgrain gets lost. If you build with something like pine that will be fine but with a higher quality timber it is nice to retain the visual impact of the grain.

I wanted a good dark colour and so went for the Cabot's wallnut stain. On the test timber it had a little of the red tones as well as the dark brown. The mahogony was just a little too red.

To get the visual grain you have take the stain first route. Now the trick with staining timber is that in the construction you have to be very careful with the wood glue. Where PVA glue gets wiped onto the timber surface at a join it seals the timber surface and prevents any stain application from being effective in that area. So it is critical in the build when glueing joints that you don't use excessive amounts of glue and any that is forced from the joint be wiped off with a wet cloth before it dries. PVA is water soluble and so it can be removed from the surface when wet. This doesn't matter with the stain varnish but is critical when staining for later varnish.

I have a friend who like to finish with a oil product which needs a number of applications and lots of buffing. I find the oil finish to be a bit blotchy on coverage and have to say I perfer the spray on Polyurethane. It gives a repeatable certain finish and a good durable surface. I put about 5 coats on the table with a light sand after the third, very easy to apply and brings the stain to life.
Lots of hours to get this done but pretty rewarding in the end.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Post 164 Bonsai Table construction #4

    The first job for today is to make up and fit the little spacer between the undercarriage and the top. The second job is I really do need to work on those feet.

I made the little spacer out of a piece of timber routed into an L shape to fit on the inside of the rails. Here it is fitted up.

 The second picture is from the inside.

And then I got on with job two, the feet. I ended cutting off about 6mm from the inner faces and 3 or 4 from the outer curved surface. They've gone from plodding army boots to dancing shoes and lightened and energised the whole table. This sort of work is just the same as shaping trees or pots for that matter. You have to stop and look and assess form and proportion all the time and then work out which element you change and which you keep. Even small things can have a big visual impact that would be hard to put your finger on. Contrast this with the first shot on this post above.

I only have to fix the top in place now and it's done. Sand and finish here we come.