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  • Writer's pictureTom Lau

Golden Touch of Travis Goldstein

We were blessed to have Travis Goldstein be our guest demonstrator for the month of July. We know how hot and crazy July can be, but we had a full house of club member show-up for this talented young man. Travis is the owner and master bonsai artist at California Bonsai Studio in Thousand Oaks, California. If you still don't recognize him; all I have to say is Masakuni tool man! Travis is one of the official supplier Masakuni tools outside of Japan.

Travis brought a California Juniper for the specimen for the night. His plans for the night was to do some detail carving and some rough wiring into a Han-Kengai or Semi-Cascade style. The reason for this type of treatment is because the majority of the mass of this juniper is dead and most of the living tissue is a mass of growth on one side on one branch.

Travis started out about telling us about safety when carving any wood material. He stressed the fact one of his friends had a piece of wood splinter go into his eye while carving. After that incident Travis has suggested everybody wear safety googles while carving. He also had on a dust mask; same thing here. You do not want to breathe in fine particle of wood into your lungs.

During this demonstration, Travis brought several type of carving tool. The main tool to carve all the rough cuts was the Makita die grinder with a flex shaft connected to it. Travis loves to use the flex shaft because it gives the user a better control of the tip verses holding onto the heavy grinder. He also brought a smaller less powerful Dremel tool. The main purpose of this tool is to do the detailed work.

As Travis continues to carve away, he gives us some idea what he is doing. The major point I got from this demonstration is that if you are carving any hardwood you need to carve in the direction of the wood grain. It gives the final product a more believable realism. He also says that you can spend hours adding detail into any deadwood, but the key is to accentuate what you have to compliment the live vein.

After you have completed with your carving you will have to seal or preserve the deadwood you have just exposed. In most cases you can use Lime-sulfur which is the preferred method of most bonsai artist. Also, Travis says you can't really substutite what mother nature can do; so let it sit in the sun for several weeks will help it add some age to the process.

As the time rolls to the end, Travis had some time to rough wire the live branch. He states that it was not a detailed wiring and the winner will probably have to go back and finish off some of the wiring when they get home. But as you can see that deadwood looks like its been through years of tough living.

Of course the lucky winner of the night was Greg Kathol! He slowly amassing a nice collection from just coming to all these demonstrations! You too can have a collection like this if you show up! Again, we have to thank Travis Goldstein for being an awesome presenter on a hot summer evening. I'll post field trip report to his studio during the fall time. Until September, stay cool and be safe!

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