I have made many sculptures that contain elements of Deadwood. I typically represent this with a thicker gauge aluminium wire or with drift wood.
In nature sharimiki (the traditional term for Deadwood) occurs when portions of a natural tree are stressed. This stressor could be grazing from: wild animals that strip the bark; extreme frost/snow or exposure to the elements or a lightening strike to the tree. If the Deadwood is on the trunk it is called “Shari” and if it is on a branch it is called “Jin”. If you search on the homepage for these terms you can see some wire tree sculptures containing these beautiful Deadwood elements.
In real bonsai the use of sharimiki provides an incredibly dramatic piece. Dead wood techniques are used on evergreen trees, Deadwood rots on deciduous trees and would not occur in nature. Sharimiki takes a high level of skill to successfully deployed. A living vein must be preserved to ensure sap is fed through to all living components. This is not a technique for a novice. Once the portion of the tree to be turned into sharimiki the bark is carefully removed. Jin is easier to achieve than Shari. For Shari a thin vein should be selected to start and carefully made wider/deeper over the course of many months and preferably years. The Deadwood can be bleached to a lighter tone using lime sulfur.
I have several pieces with Jin and I have also created wire tree scultures with Shari – typically wrapped Shari with a straight living vein. You can see a selection of sculptures I have created over the years in the gallery and slideshow below.