I started visiting bonsai nurseries and retail outlets that I’ve never even bothered to look at in the past and the trees they carried really inspired me. The people at these nurseries were really knowledgeable and offered me tons of advice that helped me start up my own collection. The most important advice I gained was how to recognize a bonsai.
In less than a year, my collection grew to approximately 80 trees and I used each tree to practice on extensively. Not many of those trees survived but the ones that did taught me a lot about styling and the importance of timing your work. I enjoy working on trees and I needed a way to keep busy during the winter months. I also needed a way to improve my styling techniques without having to spend too much on material. There were some vendors at a swapmeet selling wire bonsai trees, they weren’t very impressive as they were shapeless but the sight of these trees gave me an idea.
I made my first wire tree during Christmas of 2007 as a gift for my wife. The wire I used wasn’t very good and my shaping techniques weren’t worth talking about either. But my wife, as well as everyone else we showed, was thoroughly impressed that it was possible to make a tree out of wire.
In February of 2010, I made my wife a second tree for Valentine ’s Day. My technique has improved by now but I still didn’t have the right wire and I was desperately in need of an easier way to shape the foliage. That’s when I saw Kevin Iris’ work. Kevin posted his trees in a forum after seeing my work. I saw how efficient and how beautiful his trees are and I knew I had been shown a better and faster way to make the foliage.
I finally found the perfect wire for my needs and started making the trees in abundance. I always do things in abundance when I’m learning something. It was the same as when I first learned bonsai, I knew the only way to get better was through perpetual practice. I made a lot of trees and needed to get rid of some to make room for more so I started selling them.
I had no idea what to expect from when selling my trees, the first few went for next to nothing but the prices got better as I got more practice, this meant I was doing something right and that I’m getting better at it. I’m nowhere near as good as I would like to be with wire trees but I’m at least comfortable with the material now.
Just as it is in bonsai, it takes a lot of time and practice to understand the material and respect it. While my passion is still with live bonsai trees, these wire trees help me hone my styling skills and I never get bored learning anything related to bonsai.