Bonsai is a traditional Japanese art of growing miniature trees in small containers. There is a wide variety of styles in which bonsai can be performed with each having unique properties and characteristics. These specialised techniques are used to create miniature trees which closely resemble those growing in their natural habitat. Some techniques add to the miniature tree's maturity so it looks older and more sophisticated. Other techniques add to its simplicity to create look which adds to its spiritual beauty. Some techniques also focus on creating a very artistic and unique looking miniature tree. Overall, bonsai is a very sophisticated art which has made its way to other cultures because of this very reason.
The use of driftwood as a base in bonsai is not conventional yet encouraged for mainly two reasons. The first reason is that it is an excellent base for a living tree and allows it to grow and live for long. This is why driftwood bonsai is quite popular. Another reason why driftwood is used in many bonsai creations is because it adds a very nice contrast between dead and living wood. Driftwood is very natural looking and creates a beautiful and highly aesthetic look which is very different from traditional works. Those who use driftwood for their bonsai art don't stick with the conventional styles and often create dynamic and very effective art works.
In driftwood style, a really large portion of the bonsai work is dead wood. In other words, the amount of dead wood in the art is a lot more than other styles. The wood looks harsh, weathered, and rugged. This is used to enhance its age and create a more mature and spiritual effect. Many driftwood style bonsai works look like old and rugged remnants of the past. They are carved in shapes which enhance the apparent impact of time and nature on the life of a tree. The effect is very life like and can be superiorly touching, even more so than its more conventionally aesthetic and nurtured counterparts.
Naturally occurring driftwood can be found on a variety of trees and are different from each other in numerous ways. Some varieties are naturally more rugged looking while others take interesting shapes. Many a times, the artist adds to its rugged and rough look to enhance the weary effect. There are many ways in which driftwood bonsai can be created and all of them are quite interesting.
A very well known style for driftwood bonsai is tanuki. In this style, the driftwood is not a part of the growing tree. Instead, it is used just for effect and illusion. The real, living tree is just attached to driftwood to create an illusion of growth and make it seem like an actual miniature tree. This technique is also known as phoenix graft. The name is based on the legend of the phoenix which died but then rose from its own ashes and flew into the sky. Tanuki is not considered real bonsai art in traditional Japanese culture and is called merely a bluff. There is no patience involved in the art of tanuki when compared to growing a live tree on the wood. The traditional bonsai can take decades of work and patience but the result is genuine and astounding. Tanuki is a way to get similar effect but through deception. Upon closer inspection, a tanuki will not receive the same level of artistic appreciation and will be frowned upon.
To create your own driftwood bonsai artwork, you need to follow certain steps. These steps form the basis of any driftwood artwork and can be modified and improved upon for your work.
- The first step is to refine the driftwood you are working with. You need to make sure that the driftwood is perfect for your work and will form the best base for the living plant graft. Remove the branches which are too long, smoothen the unattractive and coarse bark, and give more shape to the deadwood you are using. You can make use of a metal brush to brush the wood in the direction of crevices. This will remove the coarse bark and make its texture smooth.
- Once you have refined the driftwood, you should now put your sapling on the surface of the driftwood to analyze how you want your bonsai art piece to look. Place it in a position which looks best from an artistic as well as a logical point of view. Mark this position and remove the sapling for now.
- Remove the barks of wood which form marked area on the driftwood. Now, place the sapling again in the marked location and attach it to the driftwood with brass screws. These will hold it in its place.
- Now, you will need grafting wax to complete the process. Apply the wax around the sapling so you can fix it in its place. Fill the gaps between the brass screws with the wax to secure the sapling in its location. Bind the sapling to the driftwood using a floral tape by wrapping it around in neat, filling circles.
- Now that the grafting of the live plant on driftwood is complete, you will need a plant dish to put it in. Get a shallow plant dish and place your driftwood and tree in it. Your miniature tree is now ready! Water your bonsai regularly and feed it fertilizers according to its type and requirements.
Bonsai Driftwood with a live plant needs care and nurturing. It can grow and keep growing for a long time if you pay attention and shower it with the care it deserves. Bonsai is rewarding and beautiful. With patience, care, and love, you can create something personal and powerful!