Hollow Trunk Coastal Redwood

Brian Underwood

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I worked with Jim Gremel as his apprentice over the summer, and have learned a great deal from the experience. The most recent trees we did were Coastal Redwoods (about 8 of them). This one started out as a boring, strait, single trunk collected tree, which is the way you find them most of the time. This is not the ideal collecting material because, as I said before, its boring. In order to try to create some interest, we decided to hollow the whole tree out, like those burned in forest fires. It took a few hours to empty the poor tree of most of it's wood, and do a little detail carving on the edges. We let it rest and dry out for a month, and in that time it grew quite a few new branches which is very promising. After it was nice and dry, we protected the live parts of the tree, and burned the whole inside (again to replicate those burned out trees in nature). A wire brush was used to take off some of the charred parts, and create a weathered look.
Overall I think it turned out pretty good. There is still a LOT of work to do in the future such as branch selection, wiring and ramification, but that will come in due time. It will also need more carving at the base when it is repotted, as it looks unnatural right now. The first pic is not the actual tree, merely a reference as to how this one looked before we started (I lost the before picture). The rest are just points along the way.
Hope you all like it! - Brian
 

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Brian Underwood

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Burn it...
 

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PaulH

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Nice work! I've got some of thos "boring" collected redwoods too. I'll have to give this a try.
Paul
 

Brian Underwood

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Thanks guys! I use a small butane torch to burn out the inside, then scrub it down with a wire brush.
 

october

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Hello Brian.. I commend you for undertaking a piece of material that requires so much time and effort..It is the best way to learn. Also, what do you think the final tree will look like..Maybe do a virt..

Rob
 

grouper52

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Very nice work! It'd be great to see what you could do with some material that is interesting to satrt with. Kudos.

G52
 

Brian Underwood

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Honestly, I'm not sure what the final tree will look like. It is growing LOTS of new branches, so when I re-style it next year I may have a better idea of the direction it's going (with guidance from the master of course). That is if Jim doesn't sell it first...
 

Brian Underwood

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In miniature!

Here is one I picked up earlier this year from MC Coast Bonsai. I liked it at first, and simply planned on wiring it out and doing no carving. Once I got into it a little, I started noticing flaws, dead areas, and decided to do something more drastic... Enjoy!
 

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JTGJr25

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Very nicely done. I like seeing people work on material that has no inherent character and then inducing that character from their own vision. There is no influence from nature and you can see the true style of the artist themselves. I definitely like your style.


Tom
 

Brian Underwood

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Thank you! But actually, the influence is ENTIRELY from nature. I always remember my parents taking me to Armstrong Woods when I was little, and I would play all day long in the hollow redwoods around the picnic area. Since then I have hiked and explored more remote redwood groves and always found the same hollowed trunks due to massive forest fires centuries ago. I only recently decided it was a great way to make some boring redwood material into something interesting and unique. Though these creations are not perfect yet, I imagine they will get better in design over the years. Here is a link to some interesting redwoods; http://www.google.com/images?q=holl...=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&tab=vi&biw=1680&bih=935
 

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JTGJr25

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Thank you! But actually, the influence is ENTIRELY from nature. I always remember my parents taking me to Armstrong Woods when I was little, and I would play all day long in the hollow redwoods around the picnic area. Since then I have hiked and explored more remote redwood groves and always found the same hollowed trunks due to massive forest fires centuries ago. I only recently decided it was a great way to make some boring redwood material into something interesting and unique. Though these creations are not perfect yet, I imagine they will get better in design over the years. Here is a link to some interesting redwoods; http://www.google.com/images?q=holl...=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&tab=vi&biw=1680&bih=935

Brian, what I meant was the piece of material you worked on had entirely no interesting inherent character created by natural forces. You are the only thing that caused the tree to look this way by using your image of other natural trees. So in this way your style can be seen because your material had nothing to it when you started it was all created by you.

Tom
 

Brian Underwood

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Ah, I gotcha. In that case, thank you for the compliment! It must have been a little past my bedtime I guess...
 

berobinson82

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Bump

Brian, since you're still around; is this tree still around? Redwoods can actually work out here in this climate and the nursery down the street has a couple they can't sell... meaning the negotiations have begun.

Thanks :)
 

Brian Underwood

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Yup, I'm still around and so is the tree! Actually the tree is looking pretty incredible after it's had a few re-wirings and made it into a new pot. I don't often make it up to Jim Gremel's place anymore, but the next time I do I'll try to snap a few update pics. Go for the redwood if you like carving!
 

rockm

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Bernard, be VERY careful about Redwood hereabouts. It is only marginally hardy in the ground in these parts (and not hardy at all this far north in the ground). In a container it could be even less sturdy and could require a cold greenhouse...even down Richmond way.

I've been considering this species for some time, but haven't pulled the trigger. Was told by Arboretum bonsai staff a while back that Sequoia is very cold hardy, but coast redwood can buckle in harsh winters here. I've never seen one in a landscape here or even down that way.

Did the owners of the nursery explain why they can't sell them?
 

coh

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Regarding cold hardiness of coastal redwood...here in western NY (zone 6a) I've managed to keep 2 potted coast redwoods alive. One I obtained as a seedling (less than 1" "trunk") from evergreen gardenworks in 2007. It's now got a 3" trunk base and has grown pretty well each year. The other is a collected specimen from Medocino coast, which I got in spring 2011. This one has grown OK, but doesn't seem as vigorous as the other. Neither tree has been styled yet, I'm just trying to get used to their growth habits.

Winter care - I keep them in an unheated mudroom that typically ranges between 30 - 40 deg F. Some light is available but not much sun. They seem to tolerate light frosts and the seedling has definitely experienced temperatures into the upper 20s without any apparent damage.

The degree of long term success in this climate remains to be seen...in Virginia and points south the limiting factor might actually be the summer heat as opposed to the winter cold.

Chris
 

berobinson82

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Bernard, be VERY careful about Redwood hereabouts. It is only marginally hardy in the ground in these parts (and not hardy at all this far north in the ground). In a container it could be even less sturdy and could require a cold greenhouse...even down Richmond way.

I've been considering this species for some time, but haven't pulled the trigger. Was told by Arboretum bonsai staff a while back that Sequoia is very cold hardy, but coast redwood can buckle in harsh winters here. I've never seen one in a landscape here or even down that way.

Did the owners of the nursery explain why they can't sell them?

Thanks rock,

I actually spoke with her today as I stopped by for lunch and to see if they got my shimps in yet... $40 for 3gals that look like they should be in 5gals.

Anyhow,

It seems they ordered them years ago for a customer that never picked them up. So they have been sitting in the corner of the outdoor nursery just taking up space. Both about 10 - 12 feet tall. I told her I'd take them off her hands for $100/pair as long as I can chop em there. Her price is a bit higher but the next time I see her I'm bringing chocolates. ;)

I thought you had one in your garden. Or was that a Bald Cypress?
 

Brian Underwood

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Update!!! 1/5/13

So, the one day I chose to drive up to Jim Gremel's place it was raining. I took a couple pictures as fast as I could so as not to ruin my camera, so my apologies for the bad photos, but here she is!

The branches have had 3 full wirings now, and have really started to lignify. Jim is growing a new top for it, which is close to 1/2" in diameter already. Enjoy!
 

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