Azalea carving starts

Azalea – carving by Lee

In our October newsletter, Lee has provided an excellent article on the principles of good carving and how to get started. Follow the amazing transformation of her subject, an azalea, where one side of the trunk and branches had died and badly needed to be naturalized.

An ability to carve realistically can serve a bonsai artist well. It can also become an interesting facet to working with bonsai by utilising carving skills on different media to enhance an appearance of age or minimise an unsightly part of the tree.

Major reasons to carve, beyond the sheer fun of it, would be to:

  • Minimise or beautify damaged areas on the tree
  • Minimise or beautify branch stubs
  • Increase the character of a tree
  • Eliminate a fault, such as reverse taper
  • Moderate the direction of jin so it flows with the tree.

Three rules for carving

  • Rule one – the work must be natural. It must never look man-made
  • Rule two – It must tell a story. You don’t carve to carve but to enhance some aspect of the tree and that aspect must be in line with the individual tree as well as the natural environment it would live in and possible damages it would incur.
  • Rule three – You must remove all traces of your work so the carved areas look weathered by wind, rain and other elements. Any trace of man’s hand and it is wrong. This includes round holes, straight lines, symmetry and other aspects that simply would not happen in nature. Read full article here
azalea - carving
Azalea – The trunk of this azalea has been carved to naturalise two large branch stumps left when large branches died.
12 Comments Add yours
  1. I am going to Europe for 6-weeks in late September 2023 – I have an azalea which must be soaked every 3-days. Are there companies who can take care of Bonsais while owners are on vacation?

    1. Hi Evette,

      I know for sure that Bonsai South will take care of trees. Normally, this is for people with sick trees, or trees that need styling, but no doubt they would be happy to do it.

      Alternatively, you could bring it along to one of our club events and I’m sure someone you’d find someone willing to water it for you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.