Wiring 101, Basic Techniques

Lee Cheatle

I feel that more bonsai enthusiasts would be less intimidated by the wiring process if it were broken down into easier to digest segments. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. For that reason I have segmented the wiring techniques into three categories; 101,102 and 103. Beginning, intermediate and advanced. 

Like anything else it gets easier the more you practice as Nike says, “Just do it”; try, try and try again. At the start, do not worry about how good it looks just get in there and get going. Remind yourself of the priorities of wiring:
#1 the wire is there to bend branches and trunks so they stay in the desired position you want
#2 winding the wire at a 30 to 45 degree angle consistently
#3 doing it effectively with the least amount of wire
#4 doing it artistically

A quick tree term primer for wiring:
Trunk; the main body of the tree, trees can have multiple trunks
Primary Branch; any branch that is directly attached to the tree trunk(s)
Secondary branch; any branch that is directly attached to a primary branch
Ancillary Branch; all other branches that are attached to the secondary branches

• How thick should the wire be? A general rule is 2/3rds the size of the branch being wired
• Start with the trunk first if you are going to wire the whole trunk, if not then you can choose to use the trunk as an anchor as needed when wiring the branches
• Bottom branches first; working from the bottom to the top of the tree
• Wire from the inside to outside of the tree
• Wire with large wires then smaller wires as you move out to the smaller outside branches and up towards the top of the tree
• When ever possible use 1 wire to wire 2 branches; this creates an anchor effect
• Wire branches at an angle a bit more elongated than 45 degrees: do not create springs by winding the wires close together, this will not keep a branch in place
• Your first wires need to extend to the next secondary or ancillary branch for a full turn; that extension is the anchor point for the next series of wires
• A TIP wire each set of branches before setting them in their final placement. If you fully set them as you go, you will only have to repeatedly reset them as you will be bumping them while wiring the other branches near them.