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  • Writer's pictureTom Lau

Tomorrow's Bonsai with Tom Vuong

We have the honor of having a relative new bonsai artist at our last bonsai club meeting. Tom is no stranger to the Southern California bonsai culture. I have seen Tom's tree at many different display around for several years. But, Tom is relative new on the demonstration circuit.

Tom brought in a Prostrata Juniper for his demonstration of the night. He had this tree for roughly 5-8 years and had been growing it since it was a 1 gallon sapling. He has already been training this little tree by rough pruning the leader and nothing more. So tonight's styling will be this tree's 1st!

Tom is a self taught bonsai artist. He has no formal teacher or sensei; he has learned by watching and studying other people works over the years. It does help that he was a former auto repair guy and just like Mauro he is the ability to visualize what potential is there and finds a way to execute that vision.

Tom did not waste time ripping into the tree. He already stated he has main trunk line he was aiming for and was removing most of the large branches not used in his final product. He did state that do not more too many of the branches because you can use them for jin or part for shari later. So Tom within 15-18 minutes already had the main trunk and 3 branches exposed and ready for wiring. This also included the jining of 2 branches. This man works super fast, no hesitation at all!

As you can see from this picture. The main structures are already built in. He continues by using heavy gauge wire to wire apex and 1st branch. Then continues to detail wire the 2nd and 3rd branches. All in all the wire took under 30 minutes. He almost finished the demonstration under the 1 hour mark.

He did share with us that keep jins long because once you make them short you cant make them any longer if you wished. So take your time when you start jinning or making shari because you only can make them shorter.

Ok everybody is going to ask what about the crossing jins?! I asked the same question and Tom's responded by saying, "its ok because as the tree fills in the jins will just be poking through the canopy and will not be a distraction as it is currently with its 1st styling." He also said in the same breath, "well if the winner if this tree does not like it, that person can always make it shorter!"

Many of the audience was able to come up and inspect Tom's work up close and personal. It was really nice that he finished 90% of the tree and some deeper conversation could be made about the tree's next steps.

After the short break. Tom gets right back to work on the fine detail wiring of the apex. Tom's explaination of apex formation was easy to follow. Use what is left on top to make the apex look full! Instruction I can follow!

Tom suggested to add some shari to the main trunk line to add some age to the tree. He also stated, "the old apex cut will not heal and will make an easy point to start the shari." With the extra time we had, Tom went ahead started the shari on the main trunk line.

I have to say it does make the tree look older. Amazing what small details can do to a tree. Well, Tom's a great supporter of bonsai! He donated the demonstration tree and his fee right back to the club. This man has a heart of gold and really wants you to enjoy the art of bonsai. He even join the club the same night! This guy is a class all in his own. Thank you Tom for the time and skills for this night and we hope to see you present a tree at the Winter Silhouette show.

The tree lucky new owner is......Farn!!!!! Again, I can not thank Tom enough for his gracious dontation and time. I hope to see some of you people at the next meeting! Frank Goya is our next presenter!

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