American Elm (Down Florida Way)

Here’s the first of the two new trees I worked on at Old Florida Bonsai


It’s the one on the right.
It was collected by Richard on one of the Treasure Coast Bonsai Clubs digs at Adam’s Ranch.

It has a spectacular base.
Lots of branches to choose from too.

I guess I have to choose some now.
I won’t be needing these ones then.
Alright, that’s a little more like it.
A bit more easier to see the tree.
Now for the real reason I’m here. Why all these people paid all this money to watch me work.
The chainsaw…..
It was Dan Robinson who first used a chainsaw to carve a bonsai in a demonstration.
It was a Toro electric chainsaw he had modified with a handle.
I use a gas powered, 18″ bar, neon green colored, in-your-face, manly machine myself.

Grrrrrrrr……cough cough…..sorry.
Got carried away.
The reason I need a chainsaw is simple. The thinness of the blade and the power the tool has cannot be replaced with any other tool.
In order to hollow out this trunk (which is what I’m doing here, btw) there is simply nothing that works.
The bits that are used in die grinders are too wide and too short to remove the material in this big of a tree.
Well, to do it and still preserve the living tissue under the bark.
Now that the bulk is removed I can move to the die grinder with the trusty rotosaw bit I prefer.
The next few pics are for the ladies (or for those so inclined).
And to tickle my own vanity a little as well.
I think I’m changing my Facebook profile pic….swoon!
Such a mastery of power tools!!!!
And those strong, masculine hands and forearms!
Ok, that’ll do:
Aw, one more, why not?
I was obviously not impressing these guys at all-
Alright already, time for some wiring.


It’s amazing how flexible these branches are.
And, as is usually the case with a deciduous tree, the (un)finished demo tree:
The front is around here somewhere-


What I meant about a deciduous tree demo is that they usually finish off very sparse and, well, unfinished looking.
That’s why 80% of demos and blog posts involve conifers.
They make the bonsai professional look like a rockstar with a “magical” transformation.
Developing a deciduous tree requires more time and more work than a conifer to make it look finished.
A full time nursery/bonsai professional can’t realize a big enough return on the investment that developing a deciduous tree takes and therefore you won’t see them much used in the professional bonsai field.
It’s really left to the artists to work them, for the challenge and the pure pleasure of the techniques.

The sharp eyed readers will have noticed this one design “flaw” I left:
This is taller than my main trunk:
How do I justify it?
It will grow a new top from the red arrow, but, the question you’re asking is: “Shouldn’t the top be thicker than a lower branch?”
Remember, this is a deciduous tree, and, if traumatized this way (imagine the top being rippled out of a huge tree but a side branch survived, giving it a head start) it will push as many new apex branches that it can.
So my design is a tree with at least two tops.
Which is a more natural looking solution than just putting a mushroom top on this unfortunate block of wood with no taper.
There’s a story here of a tall tree that lost at least half of its height and is fighting back for its life and winning.
And that works for me.

The next post will be on the third tree I worked on that day, another podocarpus.
Stay tuned.

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
This entry was posted in branch placement, carving, goings, styling bonsai, wiring, yamadori and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to American Elm (Down Florida Way)

  1. Evan Luse says:

    Nice! well done!


  2. Great carving. Looks great!


  3. John says:

    How is the American Elm doing today?….after a couple of seasons.


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