Boon on Styling, Part 1

Sashi-eda: Aside from preserving the tree’s health, what in your opinion is the single most important aim in styling a bonsai, and why?

Boon: The most Important aim in styling a bonsai is a creation of natural feeling.

Balance is the beginning and the end. The natural outline of trees in general is asymmetrical triangle. Or it could be round, such as a broom style. Width of the outline should be based on the trunk taper. A tree with a large base with fast taper, outline can be wider. A tree with a skinny and tall trunk, outline should be narrow. These basics help to start the styling process. The longest branch (key branch or sashi-eda) can be on either side of the tree.

Proportion makes a small tree look big. A good bonsai should have the same proportion regardless of the actual size of the tree. If you take a picture of two different sizes of tree and compare them, you should not be able to tell how tall or how large they are.

The foliage should be in scale with the size of that bonsai. A larger tree should have a larger leaves or needles. For a small tree, the leaves or needles should be smaller. There is an exception to the rule. A deciduous tree that is shown without leaves in winter, the leave size is not important.

Trunk is the soul of the tree. It is the most important thing in bonsai. All trees are not created equal. Different species of trees has a specific look. Maple should not have Jin and shari on the trunk. Open wounds can be infected with disease. Dead wood rots easily on maple. A good pine has rough bark and good taper. Collected junipers should have curves and twists. Natural dead wood make collected bonsai more valuable. A heavily carved trunk may devalue the tree.

Each tree is unique. Individuality is in the trunk. You have to bring out that beauty. Understand the focal point and then make the focus on that part of the tree.

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