Susquehanna Bonsai Club

The premiere bonsai club of south-central Pennsylvania


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Dinner and demo with Mauro Stemberger – Susquehanna Bonsai Club

Mauro Stemberger. Italian stallion and bonsai extraordinaire! Mauro’s demo on a Rocky Mountain Juniper for the club.

Following is from the club newsletter editor Ross Adams:

Mauro works as an architect and as a bonsai artist.  He became fascinated with the art of bonsai when he was fourteen and joined the local bonsai club in Feltre, Italy.  During his formative early years he was able to take workshops with, among others, Hotsumi Terakawa, Marc Noelander, Horst Crekler and Edoardo Rossi.  Meeting Alfiero Suardi and Enrico Savini inspired him to take his techniques to a new level.  In 2005 he founded the Italian Bonsai Dream Workshop with a group of enthusiastic bonsai folk so they could become totally immersed in the work and enjoyment of bonsai.  Go to Facebook or his website http://www.italianbonsaidream.com for more information.   
As Mauro worked on the Rocky Mountain Juniper demonstration tree, he shared the following.    The best time to work on Rocky Mountain Juniper is when it starts to point (tips of branches are elongating).  Mauro decided
to create a double trunk Bunjin style bonsai with the second apex low on the tree.   
When styling, first get rid of the parts that are not going to be used.  Also eliminate straight, horizontal and vertical lines.  Geometry, lines and spaces are of utmost importance in bonsai. If there are any decaying deadwood areas on the trunk, remove the spongy deadwood and treat the remainder with PC Wood Hardener.  If the tree is strong you can safely remove up to 70% of the foliage.       
Before any significant cutting of branches, however, It is important to find the live veins.  If you cut branches that are important to a live vein, l the live vein may die.  Equally important is to make a clean line between the dead and live veins.  Mauro uses a Swiss leather makers tool to do this (It resembles a scalpel).  He also uses a tool made from a chain saw blade bent into a u-shape (Scorp) to clean off the bark from he dead vein areas.    
For severe bends, use raffia.  Putting tape on top of the raffia will maintain moisture on the bend and the branch will recover more quickly.  Wiring is the language of
Bonsai.  Test the branch before you wire it to determine the size of wire needed.  Mauro prefers copper wire since it is stronger and you can use a smaller gage.  Start with larger wire on the base of the trunk and the basic structure of the tree, then wire the secondary branches with appropriate wire and finally the smallest branches with fine wire.  Keep the wire flow continuous and in contact with the branches to distribute stress to the trunk of the tree.  Wire so that the wire will become tighter after the branch is bent.     
Mauro loves to collect trees and to do the first designs of trees.  Unlike bonsai professionals in Japan who are specialized, Mauro does all stages of development and maintenance of trees.  
In Europe the collecting is done in February to the end of April at lower altitudes.  Mugo Pines and higher altitude trees are collected from May to June.  While collecting it is important to determine where the live 
veins are and if you can successfully collect roots associated with the live veins. Equally important is the trunk movement.  When you collect trees, mist and adjust the temperature up or down so that the tree continues to suck water.   
Olives are easy to collect since the base can be cut off horizontally and the tree will root easily.  Oaks in Italy grow in clay soil and after collecting, plant them in perlite and put a black plastic bag over them and keep completely dark in winter then change to a transparent bag when it starts to push in the greenhouse, then to  air in the greenhouse and then outside.  If yamadori trees are strong, you can style them after having been grown in a pot for three years.

(Click on first image to enlarge and scroll)

Thanks for reading 🙂

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