A jin and shari exercise

Bonsai Nut

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#1
Like so many of my projects, this one started with a dumpster full of juniper branches :) I have had this tree for years, but excess foilage was giving an illusion of a nice tree, when there were fundamental issues with it. As soon as I repotted and trimmed aggressively, I saw a tree that needed a LOT of work.



Unfortunately, I did not take any "before" photos (before I trimmed) so that people could have seen what it looked like. What it looked like after the trimming was a boring juniper with a great nebari and little else. There was an especially bad section in the middle of the trunk where there was no taper and the tree was missing a back branch. I decided to build on the strength of the tree - the nebari - by adding an interesting shari and a couple of jins.



Here I was starting on the long jin to the left, and I discovered a section of rotted wood. When you run into this on a tree, it is best to remove it all (if you can). I was to find several other pockets of rotted wood on this tree - old sections of shari that I didn't know were there.



Here is a big chunk of particularly ugly wood that looks like an alligator head. I wanted to reduce this dramatically, but wanted to get below the bark first so I could make the break look natural.



Here I am carving a deliniating line between the two jins and where I wanted the shari to end. I find it easiest if I carefully carve the shari borders first, then clean out the interior afterwards.



I didn't want the shari to extend too far up the trunk... yet. You can always make a shari larger, but you can't make it smaller. Future plans include a possible trunk chop or airlayer, so I wanted more live bark on the middle of the trunk to keep my options open.

 

Bonsai Nut

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#2
Here is my alligator friend! Talk about an ugly jin! I had to remove the "eye" and cut the chunk back - but it was important to make it look as natural as possible.



Examining the branch, there was a vein of live wood along the top with a dead hollow beneath. I knew if I broke the branch at the hollow, the upper part would project farther (because the live wood was stronger) and I could reduce the hollow further to make it look like a hollow branch.



I think it turned out nicely.



The ends of the left jin needed to be finished. So I crushed them with a set of heavy pliers.



A little peeling and carving and I ended with more natural ends. I may reduce this jin further depending upon the future design of the tree. But for now I left a longer jin for fun :)

 

Bonsai Nut

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#3
Here is how the jins & shari turned out. Front view.



Top view.



Back view. Note how the freshly stripped live wood contrasts sharply with deadwood that existed prior (that you couldn't see because it was beneath old bark). I carve all my jins and shari by hand without power tools. I think you can tell the difference (though if I had a BIG tree I would probably have to use power tools simply because of the time required). I will be applying lime sulfur after the wood dries a bit. I typically apply several dilute coats over a number of weeks (I will post photos of the results in a bit).



So here is the "after" shot. The tree looks marginally better, but needs a ton of work.



My future plans involve a graft in the middle of the trunk this Spring. There is always a chance that I might pop some buds there given the dramatic pruning. Once I get some growth I will let the tree rest for a year or so, then probably air-layer off the top.



P.S. Branch angles are NOT final in this virtual. Certainly the lowest branch on the left needs to come way down.
 
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#4
Very informative photo essay. What tools did you use to carve the jins? Creating jins is one of those things that seems easy in theory but is quite challenging in reality.

One of my bonsai resolutions for the new year is to become more accomplished in creating jins. This article was a great way to start.

Thank you.
 
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#5
Thanks for the pictorial BN. The finished jin, from the front now looks a bit like an elephant head and trunk....:p But a definite improvement on the aligator.

That first 90 turn in the trunk is a bit of an issue, isn't it? Have you considered replanting as a cascade?

Brian
 

Bonsai Nut

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What tools did you use to carve the jins?
I use X-acto knives and very sharp hand chisels. Also, at the very end you can use a dremel with a wire brush to clean everything up - the wire brush isn't strong enough to harm the wood, but it will remove any remnants of leftover bark.
 

Bonsai Nut

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The finished jin, from the front now looks a bit like an elephant head and trunk....:p But a definite improvement on the aligator.

That first 90 turn in the trunk is a bit of an issue, isn't it? Have you considered replanting as a cascade?
Everything about this tree is an issue :) I almost hesitated posting anything about it because I have not figured out how to bring out the best final bonsai. I didn't think it was that bad until I cut back the foilage :( I considered a cascade due to the first bend, but I don't really gain anything because I will still have to fix that long section of trunk. Plus, a jin would bury much of the nebari, which you can't really see in my photos but is really nice.

So I think I need to get a lot of back budding or else try grafts. Once I get some branches down below, I think I will try an airlayer. Here is a quick virtual. Cut in half you end up with two decent trees:



I am not happy with the final look of the jins yet. I think they both need to be reduced more. However sometimes when I am busy with the work of jinning, it is hard to step back and develop a clear vision of the final result. So I leave my jins long to start, rest a few days and look at the tree for a while (or do virtuals on the computer) and develop the final plan. The "stump" jin will probably lose the bottom half, even if I don't shorten it. It is still much too heavy visually.

Bonsai #2 would make a nice semi-cascade. A slight tilt to the right and just grow out the primary branch.
 

Bonsai Nut

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#8
Here's a quick shot of the base from a slightly different angle. The 90 degree turn is not as bad as it looks in my other photos (otherwise the tree would have been heading for the compost by now)

 
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#9
Hi BN,
Nice job!! What I would do now before the wood drys out is to take needle nose pliars if you do not have a jin pliars and pinch into the heavey part of the jins to get the wood strands and peel it like a piece of meat. It is still green and it should peel off in strands giving it a more natural look. While the wood is still green your strands will be longer. When the wood drys out it will be much harder to pull off strands and and if you can they will break off much shorter. Am I making any since?
This gives the jins a much more natural look and not so much smooth.
Just a thought.

A Friend in bonsai
John
 
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#10
This is what I was talking about Greg. See how pulling the strands of wood gives it a much more natural feeling?

A Friend in bonsai
John
 
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Bonsai Nut

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#11
Thanks for the photos John. I'm not sure if I prefer your method or mine (for junipers). I tend to like smooth sharis like driftwood on junipers, perhaps because the live veins are so smooth. However I like the way your approach looks - perhaps for yews or cedars. Personal preference, I guess. I will definitely have to try your approach on the next tree that I bump into with striated bark. I would love it if you could post a series of pics covering the whole process - then we could have a catalog of different approaches and different results for people to look at.
 
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#12
Hey BN,
Yes I agree some like it some don't. I actually do the same as you but I like to take it a bit further and pull the wood fibers in strips. Just like you said everyone has his preferance.

Here is a link to Cheng, Cheng-Kung site on silk carving, very talented artist:
http://sidiao.myweb.hinet.net/index_e.htm

I hope you don't mind? I messed around with your tree to see what I could come up with and this is what I am seeing, I know maybe not what you are planning for this tree but this is what I see.

I took the tree and tilted it 10 degrees to the left and took the 1st left branch and bent it back towards the trunk and grew more foliage. I then cut the top down to grow a new crown. Or you could bend the top back to the left and down and grow new crown. Then I moved the other branches down with more foliage.
I then continued the shari up and around the trunk and connected it to the jin on the 1st left branch.
Then shari ed the top right branch a bit to give the tree visual taper.

I know that you were going to layer it down and this would be good also. I hope you don't mind me messin around,,you can tell I am getting bored already this winter ;-)
I truly hope you don't mind.


A Friend in bonsai
John
 

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Bonsai Nut

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#13
Very nice! I like it a lot! I agree that one way to try to fix the middle trunk section is to run a shari up it. Eventually the trunk will heal and look naturally twisted. It is that first step up to the trunk bend that becomes problematic.

I was even thinking of trying a more dramatic change - splitting the trunk and twisting it down and forward to the left. It just seemed like a lot of work for this tree :) Perhaps when I see it in 6 months :)
 
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#14
Like so many of my projects, this one started with a dumpster full of juniper branches :) I have had this tree for years, but excess foilage was giving an illusion of a nice tree, when there were fundamental issues with it. As soon as I repotted and trimmed aggressively, I saw a tree that needed a LOT of work.



Unfortunately, I did not take any "before" photos (before I trimmed) so that people could have seen what it looked like. What it looked like after the trimming was a boring juniper with a great nebari and little else. There was an especially bad section in the middle of the trunk where there was no taper and the tree was missing a back branch. I decided to build on the strength of the tree - the nebari - by adding an interesting shari and a couple of jins.



Here I was starting on the long jin to the left, and I discovered a section of rotted wood. When you run into this on a tree, it is best to remove it all (if you can). I was to find several other pockets of rotted wood on this tree - old sections of shari that I didn't know were there.



Here is a big chunk of particularly ugly wood that looks like an alligator head. I wanted to reduce this dramatically, but wanted to get below the bark first so I could make the break look natural.



Here I am carving a deliniating line between the two jins and where I wanted the shari to end. I find it easiest if I carefully carve the shari borders first, then clean out the interior afterwards.



I didn't want the shari to extend too far up the trunk... yet. You can always make a shari larger, but you can't make it smaller. Future plans include a possible trunk chop or airlayer, so I wanted more live bark on the middle of the trunk to keep my options open.

@bonsainut ,
just found this thread, but the pics are not coming through, could it be its too old a thread, just wanted to go through it if possible...no biggie.
Thanks as always for this site!!!
 

Bonsai Nut

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@bonsainut ,
just found this thread, but the pics are not coming through, could it be its too old a thread, just wanted to go through it if possible...no biggie.
Thanks as always for this site!!!
This is an oldie... I'll have to take some photos of this tree to do a "before and after" comparison after 11 years. It looks pretty different today.

On older threads that were created using the old site software, if the images were hosted on an exterior site and were only linked to the forum, if those images were ever deleted from the exterior site, BonsaiNut is unable to display the images. At least in this case, I have all the originals and can repost them.
 

grouper52

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#18
@Bonsai Nut Would love to see any trees you have posted to @grouper52 thread. 5-10 year progression. This tree just may be perfect there!
I concur, @Bonsai Nut ... the description of the tree and techniques would really add to that thread. Are the old photos lurking in some file on a previous computer or elsewhere? And thanks for all you've done over the years to make this by far the best bonsai site I can imagine.
 
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#19
@bonsainut ,
Im in full agreement of the previous posts, would love to see the originals and if you are able the current progression as you mentioned.
I am doing a bunch of jin and shari currently and still gaining experience and learning, so it would be appreciated.
 

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