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  • Tom Lau

"The Italian Stallion" Mauro Stemberger


Wow "The Italian Stallion" strikes again! We wish a speedy recovery to Al Nelson our scheduled demostrator for the night. But, Mauro was available to be our very special guest artist for the night last Thursday night. If you have not seen Mauro in person you are missing out. He has tons of charisma and has a full vision for the tree from the beginning.

Lindsay Shiba had a special tree for the night. It was a California Juniper dug 12 years ago with his dad. This tree was no joke easily 5-6 feet tall from all the new shoots. The trunk was roughly 5-6 inches across and already have broken through the bottom of the 15 gallon pot with its roots. Goal was this tree was have it roughly styled by Mauro and be auctioned off with a reserve at the Winter Silhouette Show in January.

This tree has some challenges to overcome. Unlike most California Junipers, this particular one had not movement. It was a classic Chakkan style tree. As Mauro put it, "Classic straight tree, you do not have major bends in the branches." Another words, you want to make the tree look as natural and as believable as possible for a bonsai.

As Mauro trimmed alway any "Bar Branches" and any other defective branching. The basic silouette of the tree began to form. Mauro explains, "with the bar and cut in wire branch on the right side of the tree. We are going to setup this tree its first rough styling." He also make sure to save most of the inner branching to force new adventurous backbudding in the future.

His next step was to determine the apex of the tree. He did say from the start that the tan-jin (apexal jin) was a major feature of this tree and should be shown off. The issue now is to find that new apex that would work for this tree. Like many bonsai amateur artist. I have an issue in picking an apex. Mauro explained it in a short and sweet way. The apex should always point or bow toward the first major branch. In theory its giving you that hugging feeling and not the pull away look.

Next, Mauro started with the shari (deadwood in the middle of the tree) and jins (deadwood branches) for the tree. He sculpted the bark to emblazon its subtle curves and movement in its straight trunk. He expands the jins and shari to have almost a vertical eye lit shape.

There is Greg photobombing while Mauro uses a die grinder giving that shari some more dimenson. The video below shows Mauro at work with that die grinder.

Mauro being an architech has a systematic way approach in wiring. Its almost like watching an artist paint. He is an actual technician and dictator when it comes to wiring! He will make you rewire a tree if its done improperly or incorrectly. In the 1 minute video below he explains it beautifully.

Here is Mauro with the tree all laid out with the future branches in place. He explains that with the current branches it has the tree will respond by sending new backbudding near the trunk and those branches will need to be selected for the future pads for this tree. I have to say that this tree looks awesome from the giant tree that we started with during the night. He really brought out the potential of the tree out in roughly 2:20mins but hey whos counting?

Well, actually this Mauro is hilarious during the demo. This guy here "Alex" was caught napping during part of the Mauro presentation and was called out for it. Poor Alex had a long day in the shop. But, I have to admit it got us all laughing and energized for the finish!

Thanks Mauro! Move over Rocky! You are the true, "Italian Stallion" in my bonsai books!

#MauroStemberger #CaliforniaJuniper

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