Sculpture and bonsai tend to go hand in hand and it is an opportunity to create something that is unique and unusual whilst still maintaining a living bonsai tree and Simon has been perfecting techniques like this over 30 years developing his experience, he is now sharing it with us.
One of the examples was a collected Privet stump, which he dug up and placed in a wooden box and started to hollow out the trunk. The initial process was to carve with a knife windows on the trunk and then chisel the bark off these.
He again gave it s couple of years to recover and during this time the other trunk had rotted and so he removed this and started to carve from this point using a 7-8mm standard diy power drill to drill hundreds of holes into the main trunk inside the windows he has carved on the bark initially. He then chiselled out the inside of these hole and used hand tools to clean out the drilled wood areas. Privet wood is vulnerable to rot with the heartwood exposed especially at soil level so you need to keep it dry and clean as if kept dry it tends not to rot.
The balance between the living and dead elements creates the impression of a fragile living bonsai and Simon has been experimenting with heartwood removal which is less essential for bonsai as bonsai can be fed artificially as well as given structural support more easily than mature trees in the wild even though this is not impossible either.
Simon again left the wounds to seal and compartmentalise but Privet is very slow to do this and then he used a toilet seat bolt to pull trunk together as it needed to be closer for the image to work and also the 1st year after carving it grew well but some bark areas died back as they dried out and cracked. It is still work in progress and Simon has yet to decide on a pot that will be suitable but the image currently is very aesthetically pleasing already and it reminds me of a shaped tree image which was created by Axel Erlandson.
A second Privet Simon has been working on has stones embedded into the trunk and due to the slow bark growth the stones take some time to embed fully. Simon originally started this project around 6-7 years ago and he used hematite and originally stuck them in with araldite but this prevented bark growth so don’t use.
The second time he set them by carving them in and creating holes that the stones fitted perfectly into and in 2 years grown the bark has calloused around them well. He is looking to continue to develop this tree and is still deciding on a pot to suit!