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  • Writer's pictureTom Lau

Michael Jonas on Ficus

As the stunt double for Travis Goldstein, Michael Jonas was gracious enough to help fill in Travis's role for the month of May. Michael gave all of us at the meeting first hand knowledge working on Retusa Ficus. Not, a ficus that I'm familiar with so lets go over what we have learned that night.

That monster of a ficus next to Michael was the demo tree for the night. The tree is a multipe trunk with 5 very straight trunks connected nicely at the base. While, there was not much surface roots showing, Michael assures us that we can slowly build it while developing the trunks.

Here is a better shot of this monster. This type of pre-bonsai could be easily acquired from florist shops or even big box stores. Just always, keep an eye out for good material.

Before, even starting on which branch to start on. Michael suggested that we defoliate the tree before even beginning. This way we get to see the entire structure of the tree deciding how to proceed.

With all the leaves removed, the main structure of the tree is shown. Michael figures out the best front of the tree while, understanding that 3-4 of the trunks will not be used in the final design of this ficus clump.

Like all artist, Jonas begins by marking up the areas where it will be removed. This "drawing" acts as a guidelines for making his cuts. Also, if you make cuts now there is no way you can glue them back together.

Jonas, starts using a specialized bonsai tool called an Arbortech mini grinder. It is basically a modified grinder with wood grinding extends on it. The machine really does quick work with all the wood in the trunks. The limitation of the Arbortech grinder is that it grinders away layers verse cutting.

So this tool is best served grinding big sections away.

With that limitation in mind. Lindsay happens to have a sawsaz in this SUV and gave it to Michael to help the demonstration along. As you can see from the photo, the Arbortech does eat into the wood but starting off cutting with a sawsaz will give a better final result when the Arbortech is used in this case as rough grinding tool.

With most of the sawdust settled we can see how the final product should look like. Michael suggest we seal the cuts with cut paste just to stop the drying out process, which in turn helps the callusing over process down the road.

Michael told us that he is not much of a drawer but, we made him give us an idea what this finished tree would look like. It is much to look at but it gets the message across.

Thank you Michael Jonas for your support of the club to May's demonstator of the month. We learned a ton from you. Until next time all.

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