Wire Trees make the perfect gift. All the beauty of Bonsai without the worry of water and sun.
How long did it take you to make that?
Without a doubt, this is the most frequently asked question and often the first question from gallery visitors. It is also probably the most difficult to answer. I do not punch a time clock when I create a piece. I can construct simple pieces within a few days. Larger, more intricate trees can require many weeks to months of effort. It is certainly not a lucrative labor, but a labor of love.
What kind of wire do you use?
I purchase all of my wire through a jewelery supply house. I've found that I prefer either 22 or 24 gauge.
What kind of finish do you put on your pieces?
None. The wire comes with or without a protective coat. I use nylon jewlers tools to work the wire, so I do as little damage as possible to the pieces. The wood is in as natural a state as it can be to be aquarium safe -- meaning no chemicals or insecticides.
Are there any special care instruction?
Use a blow dryer to remove dust. The curly ends of each leaf is the end of a single wire that began in the roots. This open ended curl can be snaged and unravel a leaf if a duster is used.
Keep indoors to slow oxidation if you like the original finish, but all metal may eventually oxidize to a deeper color. If you like the oxidized look, by all means display your trees outdoors.
Due to the weight of some of my bases, lift your trees by the base, not the trunk. The bolts and screws that hold them are tough but can strip with abuse.
On the whole the trees are very sturdy and can withstand the touch of curious children.
How do you mount your pieces?
All of the trees are mounted through the base into the trunk with (depending on the size of the trunk) a bolt, or screw, or brad. In some cases metal glue has been applied to reinforce the connection. I have recently made a few trees that are actually achored to their base by root and branch (see "Seeking Sun"). My art (like a tree) is in constant growth. As previously stated, it is best to lift your trees by the base and not the tree trunks. A few pieces are anchored within a container by colored stones or pebbles and then the container is filled with clear craft glue and allowed to dry. Mosses are generally anchored by the roots of the tree, but some are anchored with craft glue.
How do you design your pieces?
I am constantly looking at trees, and downloading tree images. That being said, I never seek to duplicate an exact form, but rather I try to capture the general beauty of the shape.
How did you learn to do that?
I have always loved trees and have been working live Bonsai Trees for close to 18 years. For the last 7years I have had a wonderful Bonsai instructor. It was an internet search for Bonsai wire for some of my saplings that led me to this art form. Many wonderful artist have instructional videos posted on youtube and I even purchased a book from Amazon. I learned, combined, and came up with a style of my own.
Do you ever make a mistake?
I guess a better way of phrasing this would be: Do you ever flounder? Yes. Sometimes a trees shape is not going in the direction I'd hoped. When this happens, I've found that it's best not to fight it. A few extra twists or bends, a mild reshaping and the trees always appears in the end. I never know what the finished product will be until the last leaf is curled and the tree is mounted.
How do you choose you bases?
I have a cabinet full of driftwood, pottery, trays and wood blocks. When I am finished with the wire work of the tree, I trot out my supplies and place the tree on various bases until I find the perfect match. The the tree gets a final shaping and is mounted. Lastly I tweak the root system to join the base.
What are your favorite wires?
Definitly 22 gauge rounded wires. The flat wire I sometimes use is brutal on my hands. Wires come in flexibility strengths from soft to hard. Too soft and the branch won't hold it's position. Too hard and the twists and wraps are not tight enough to become bark and leaves. Most of my wires are of medium strenght. The exceptions were "Live Oak with Moss", "Moonlight" and "Starshine". The technique for "Moonlight" allowed for a softer wire that gained position strength from the interlocking weave of the branches. The number of wires I used for "Starshine" added enough thickness to the branches for them to hold their positions.
What tools do you need?
I recommend an assortment of nylon tipped jewelers pliers from flat to needle nosed, several different sizes of wire cutters, and a jewelers table vise, I've also created several different types of jigs for turning the bundles of wire that become the trees. That being said, there are techniques that can be completely created with bare hands once you've cut your wires.
What is your favorite piece?
Hard to say. When I completed Aspen, copper and silver were my favorites. Then Twisted's dark trunk and rich folage spoke to me. Now, I wonder how any combination of wires could improve on Moonlight's cool beauty. I have a mind full of trees yet to be created. They are children of my craft.
Who takes your pictures?
Some of my earliest photo's were professionally done, but for the most part, I do. The demand in the galleries was conflicting with my photographers availability, so I began to take my own photos. At first, my photos were taken using natural light during the early morning on my lanai using a cardboard tri-fold and a material drape. This summer I purchased two photo box lights and a professional drapping system. I've also added a small turntable for videos. Obvioulsy my talent is trees not photography. I hope to improve with time and practice, but this area is not a true love.
Do you do direct commissions with client involvement?
Yes. Sometimes a client sees one of my pieces, but prefers something similar in a different size or perhaps using a different combination of wires.
When commissioned for a specific, real world tree, I make a mock up to be sure that I've caught what the client recognizes as their tree. We then discuss wire types, bases and price; and then I get to work.
Dealing directly with a client is a more fulfilling and enjoyable experience compared to a gallery sale to an unknown buyer.
Do you ship internationally?
Yes, through Saatchi Art. I am listed with this online gallery. This website store can only ship within the continental US, but if you purchase through Saatchi Art the piece can be shipped internationally. Contact me and I will make sure the piece you desire is listed on their website for your purchase.
How are the trees packaged for shipping?
We zip tie the base of a tree to the bottom of a tripple strength cardboard shipping box. This box is secured within a second larger box with ample packing material to insure minimal movement and maximum strength.
Are the trees guaranteed?
Only for shipping. Once a tree has safely arrived there is no guarantee. That being said -- the sturdiness of these trees will surprise you. Only the willows need to be handled with care.
However, if you should injure your tree, I will make repairs for a small fee and the cost of shipping and handling.
All sales are final.
Why a sales tax?
The state of South Carolina requires that I collect a 7% sales tax on all internet transactions