Although it may seem that the quality of the trees I produce are those honed over many years of experience … they are not. I am among one of the lucky few to pick up a hobby and excel at it. I have had many many years experience working with miniatures (wargaming and display) and with my hands at that level which primed me for this recent endeavour.
Even I struggle to believe I only started this adventure only 6 months ago when at a family meal and decided to play with the muselet from a bottle of champagne. Naturally the little metal cap would make a perfect “pot” to the “tree” I tried to create from the wire. (I wish I kept it!)
So the seed was planted and a few days later I purchased some galvanised steel wire, now if you don’t know this stuff is, it’s tough and sharp when cut. After nearly killing myself with the steel wire I did some research and discovered I would be better working with aluminium wire. I had decided I only wanted to make small trees, due to preferring the scale and also knowing it would be quicker to make. I got the wire and started the process. To the right is my very first tree! Pretty good right?! (sarcasm!)
Well being the sort of person that I am, obsessing over something for a period of time before typically moving on, I tried again and again. Before I knew it I was making a tree a day when I could fit it in and I started to improve. At this point it is worth noting there there isn’t any real way to learn this, no in-depth tutorials (with the exception of Kevin Iris on youtube) so I just started to find my own style. This is important because everyone will have their own way of doing things and it allows for creators to come up with styles different to their peers.
Making the basic shape of a tree in wire, after some practice, is actually quite easy however knowing the proportions of the tree you are making and the wire length you are using does need some concentration. After some time I had made about 30 trees or so and decided I should really create a website for them, to see if there was any interest from people to purchase them. Having a hobby of messing around with websites this was an easy feat and so Metalbonsai.com was born.
And then the day when I discovered copper! Copper was a lovely change to the aluminium I was using and was easy to adapt to. The thing about copper, especially raw wire is that it oxidises (which can be cool). Trees were then created with this and are currently oxidising I am sure. I have a wire tree in the garden currently going blue and cannot wait to share the results. At this point it should be noted that I started with wire around 1mm diameter and progressed down to a fiddly .3mm thick.
From here, knowing how I wished to proceed with my evolution, I started using coloured copper wire. Having been in the throws of this for a few months now I can say I am happy I discovered the coloured copper but there are a few cases where things… “got out go hand!” After a few crazy moments I found my groove and a large selection of trees made, some of which can be seen on the website still.
Composing trees to match mame bonsai pots ( note- my first trees were placed in soy sauce dishes!) is a really interesting process but was limited by the use of cheap import pots. At this point I decided to seek the quality of Walsall Studio Ceramics and this opened up my artist ability even further. From here it was only natural to obtain a pot/ container addiction! I eventually found the
talented Yoshiyuki Kawada, a Japanese mame bonsai pot sculptor who creates every pot from a solid block of clay. The price of his work is high, as it should be, and I am lucky enough to have a few of which some trees sit in.
Where to next you may ask? Well right where I am now, only 6 months in is to try mounting wire trees onto canvas backings. There have been a few failures and a few successes. I am very excited about the future because the world has been opened up to me. I always wished I had that natural talent to be able to draw but alas it was never to be, which is fine because I accept I am what I am. In wire creation I have found a way to express myself in a way I never even knew existed before.
What comes next? I don’t know at the time of writing this but I am sure it will be exciting.
PS- Evolution? Take a quick look back at the pictures, the first was at day 1, the next at month 2 and the last three at month 5 onwards. I’m pretty chuffed how far I have come!