Copper (CU) is a metal that is well-known and widely utilized because of its soft, ductile structure and its high conductivity. Ever since 8000 CE, copper was used by humans in several geographical regions, thanks to the fact that it is one of the few metals that occur naturally.
In the world of tiny trees masterpieces’ cultivation, knowing how to use copper bonsai wire is one of the foundations of training the miniature trees in order to achieve appealing, mesmerizing shapes and appearance.
Pros and Cons of Copper Bonsai Wire
Both copper and aluminum wire is applied when training and shaping bonsai trees. None of these types of wire should be considered superior, though, as both have certain pros and cons.
Copper wire tends to be more expensive than aluminum wire. It is also fairly heavier, which is further related to the fact aluminum comes with only 30% of the total weight of copper while possessing 61% of copper’s conductivity.
Being naturally heavier than aluminum, copper wire is also much stronger. Because of this, copper wire can hold thicker branches than aluminum wire with the use of a smaller diameter wire. That’s one of the reasons why many bonsai practitioners refer to the copper wire as looking more attractive than aluminum wire.
When working with copper, the wiring isn’t that visible as aluminum so contemplating your bonsai might feel more pleasing.
What’s more, unlike aluminum, copper does not change its color as time passes by, thus, eliminating the chances of unwanted nuances that can further affect the appearance of the bonsai tree when gazed upon.
On the downside, it’s more difficult to bend copper wire, so a heavier gauge and more efforts are generally needed when working with copper wiring your bonsai. But the final results can be well worth the endeavor at the end.
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Using Copper Wire to Shape your Bonsai: Step-by-Step Guide
Image Credit: @bonsaitopic
For a start, it’s good to keep in mind that copper wire works excellent for conifers but may not be the best choice for tropical bonsai varieties. That’s due to the fact conifers grow much more slowly, as opposed to their fast flourishing tropical bonsai counterparts.
When it comes to deciduous trees, newbie bonsai enthusiasts find the aluminum wire to be easier to use. As far as broadleaf evergreen varieties are concerned, aluminum may be the better option because of the ease of making your way through confined spots with otherwise hard-to-tame foliage.
Whether you are about to single- or double wire the branches of your bonsai, make sure to follow the step-by-step instructions below to achieve the best results. Nonetheless, don’t forget to listen to your tree and shape it in the most suitable way that will complement its natural beauty; there is no use to rush and fall into extremes, for it is a practice that makes perfect.
Step 1: Select the branches and start wiring
Above all, your wisest move is to use wire that is about 1/3 of the thickness of the branch that you are about to train and shape.
If wiring thick branches, start by soaking raffia (palm fiber derived from raffia palm) in water and wrapping it around the branches to protect them from damage when it’s time for bending.
In the case you plan to wire the entire bonsai tree, always start from the branches located at the base of the trunk. Wire secondary branches after wiring the primary ones.
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When you have selected the branches to be wired, you can start wrapping the wire at a 45 degrees angle.
Step 2: Cut the wire and proceed with wrapping more branches
Using an appropriate tool (in this case, a wire cutter), cut off the wire.
Now, you can proceed with wrapping more branches. Do make sure to carefully line the new piece of wire with the wire that you have wrapped when accomplishing step 1 of the process.
Also, don’t forget to select a suitable size of wire based on the thickness of the branch. To illustrate this better, you may have used a 2 mm wire for the first branch but then need a 3 mm wire for the next one.
Step 3: Keep Wiring Precisely
Finally, keep the wiring patiently and precisely. Interestingly, Japanese bonsai masters’ tiny trees often look more refined than the bonsai masterpieces of Western artists involved in the ancient practice of cultivating miniature trees. The secret “ingredient” is the world renowned precision of the Japanese – the same precision that made “Shuudan koudou” go viral.
Instead of completing the wiring process when the twigs are reached almost all the way out, Japanese bonsai masters keep wiring out to the very tips of the tiniest twigs.
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Step 4: Bend the Branches
Once fully wired, you can start bending the branches of your bonsai. You can apply a hook with a suitable wire and attach to a strong root or the very pot of your bonsai. However, you can also use your fingers in repositioning and bending the branches, as long as the stage of your bonsai tree’s development allows you to do so.
At any cost, do not keep bending and repositioning a branch repeatedly. Remember, patience is crucial. Or else, you may easily damage the branches. If you notice straight sections, it is a great idea to bend these moderately so that they look more natural.
Step 5: Aftercare for your Bonsai
Once wired, bent and positioned, your bonsai tree’s branches will gradually attain the desired appearance. Aftercare is essential, so do not underestimate it.
Monitor your bonsai closely as to be able to remove wiring on time. If removed later than needed, wires will cut into the bark and grow into the branches, creating unwanted, artificial-looking scars.
Always cut the wire at every turn as trying to recycle or repurpose it by unwinding can damage the tree, too.
Avoid exposing your wired bonsai to direct sunlight. Place it in a shady spot where it can peacefully rest instead.
There are words apply to learn how to use copper bonsai wire. As long as you skip the rush and enjoy the precious moments with your bonsai tree, wiring and training can turn into a celebration for the senses – it is all a matter of perspective. Embrace bonsai and let it flow into your heart.