Haunted hackberry bonsai

Well, being the unlettered man of toil I pretend to be,  I don’t have much to right to an opinion in some things but, I must say, what a gnarly old hag of an arboreal specimen I have before me. Scarred, beaten, majestic. Beautiful. This and trees like it are the kind of trees that make me poetic and wistful. They look old and storied. Maybe a tree from the dawn, a seedling at some pre history faerie wedding or Druid ritual. One can imagine the lost bones of a warrior brave hidden in the hollow trunk. Or a child sacrifice to the elder gods.

I picked it up from Cosette at the Multi-Club picnic and auction back in October 2016. I’ve been waiting until now to work on it. 

First step, weeding. 

That’s better. 

It’s been a long many months with me just looking, studying, sizing up the angles and site lines. I think I know now what the front is. 

This is how it sits presently. 

I kinda like this side for the movement. 

Not sure if the top supports it though. 

But if I choose that front, I’ll lose this branch.  

This side is cool. And, if I use this side…
…it removes the slingshot effect of the secondary trunk too. 

Let me ponder with an orange. Oranges make you think. They focus the grey matter, so to speak. 

Let’s get to work. 

Chop chop chop!First, it needs to be shorter. 


Then the crotch branches….

The multiples and, of course those growing down (you’d have thought that the tree would’ve gotten the memo about geotropism, right?) must needs be removed. 

I’m running out of daight tonight but let me point out the pointing branches. What is a pointing branch? Well, it’s one that is straight, and pointing. 

In bonsai, see, we don’t like straight lines much. That’s why we invented metal wire, actually. It wasn’t for the movement of electricity or industrial purposes. Or for jewellery or anything purty like that. No sirree, it was purely for the artistic pursuit of line and the aesthetic goal of aged, bent branching in Bonsai, that our metallurgic ancestors created copper and then, subsequently, aluminum,  wire. Indeed, invented and massed produced solely to make a straight branch crooked. Think about that amazing Factoid whilst partaking of your favorite cold beverage. 

“There was a crooked man….” 
Speaking of which, Guaracha and Dave repotted the tree for me. Say hi fellas!

Such gentlemen. Let’s see if I can make a tree here. 

It’s gonna be all about the wire now. I have to transform the branches for young straight things into old, bent ones. 

I’m not worried too much about the wire scars. That’ll make the branches even more mean looking. 

The main branches are done. Now to the twigs. 

First, I think that too needs to go. 

Better. 

Onward fearless soldier. 

As you can see from this (trees) right side shot, the structure I’m leaving is very non-traditional. Most bonsai stylists would remove that front “trunk”. I’m keeping it for two reasons. One, it’s an old branch, it adds to the eccentric nature of this tree. Second, it’ll annoy many people. Art, sometimes, should make you uncomfortable. The scars, the structure, the age of this tree should be off-putting. It should be hard to look at. The challenge is to make the structure cohesive, natural, and whole. This, ultimately, is what working on all those little trees is about. Practice. All those little trees are what artists call “a study”. It used to be that when an artist, be him a painter or sculptor or what have you, would practice on small details like a hand, or a tree, or a cow in a field. And when it was time to undertake a major work, the hand and the vision and the skill were already there to add to that work. Here’s an example on a small winged elm root cutting. I called it a “study in line”. 

It’s not the best example of an exposed root bonsai but it looks aged. Just from the movement of the branches. Btw, that finger is for the ignorant ass who didn’t know what a “study” was. 

Back to our hackberry. Sorry. 

Essentially, the tree will have two tops. This one in front. And of course the top, top. On top. 

And the parting shot of course. One can’t end a blog without one. 
Let’s see how it grows. Look for an update soon. 

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
This entry was posted in branch placement, Horticulture and growing, rare finds, redesign, refine and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Haunted hackberry bonsai

  1. reelwooly says:

    You are a gifted artist, can’t wait to see an update on this one!

  2. Kathy Barbazon says:

    Love this gnarled old tree. You did an inspired job with an unusual piece of material.

  3. Pingback: A matter of taste or, the past is prologue | Adam's Art and Bonsai Blog

  4. Brendan R says:

    Let’s see how it looks with a few leaves on?

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