Technique: Four Tips for Better Wiring

I can’t say that I’m the best bonsai artist out there, but I can certainly wire better than when I started. I’ve read a lot of advice and worked with several masters about getting better at wiring over the years. Some advice has been very helpful and some advice just hasn’t worked for me. I want to share just a couple of tips that have helped me improve, particularly over the last four or five years.

Wired Many Branches

Wire all branches

1. Wire a lot.
How much is a lot? Malcom Gladwell says its takes about 10,000 hours of doing something to become an expert at it. So the more you do it every day, the faster you’ll get good. In 2004, I attended my first private lesson where I nervously showed the artist I admired around my collection and work in progress. My instructor recommended that I work to finish wiring a tree a month, at minimum. I did just that, several months over, and was amazed at how quickly I progressed over that time.
2. Slow and Steady.
Especially when learning to do small branches, go slowly. It’s just like practicing a musical instrument. You start as slowly as you can without making mistakes, then you speed up. Go as slowly as necessary to have control over what you’re doing on the branch. This is particularly important when trying to wire secondary and tertiary branches. While it’s best to wire two branches with a single wire with a quick stroke, I’ve never seen an artist I admire tertiary branches that way. Most will carefully and deliberately chunk out the branch and carefully reduce wire thickness with smaller controlled wiring.
Wired Branch Detail

Wire all the way to
the tips of branches

3. Fix it until it’s right.
When working on a difficult branch, rewire it until you get it right. Especially if you’re starting out, I recommend never crossing wires, equaling spacing of wires and a good clean look. When you review your wire and come to a point where you feel it is crossing or too sloppy, you can re-work and readjust until you get it right. Set a high standard for yourself and work to achieve that with every branch. Look at your wiring from many angles to reveal problems in the wiring. Don’t take this suggestion too far. If you’re really hitting a wall, abandon the branch, and start another. It’s more important to wire a lot than get stuck on one branch.
Yuji Yoshimura

Yuji Yoshimura Book

4. Study the Fundamentals.
Study the best books and videos on bonsai. I like the resources found at Go to You Tube and search for bonsai wring, weekly, if possible. Go to a nursery every week and look for material that you can improve with wiring. I highly recommend reading The Japanese Art of Miniature Trees and Landscapes: Their Creation, Care, and Enjoyment by Yuji Yoshimura. The sections on proper wiring technique alone are worth the price of the book.