Saturday, October 6, 2007

Marco Invernizzi Demo

Marco Invernizzi is an absolutely amazing individual. Not only owning to his apprenticeship in Japan under Kimura (sometimes known just as "The Magician"), but also a history in art both in training and through his family, Marco has an eye for bonsai that is clearly well trained and intuitive combined. A friendly, charming and most importantly, humorous man, he brought a new level of workmanship and knowledge, turning the evening into a fun and informative event.

For more Marco's webpage, please visit:
There is also a profile and interview with him hosted at the AoB forum. Art of Bonsai Profile: Marco Invernizzi

The stock was brought in by one of our members. Paul actually found this tree on a junk heap left over from landscapers, and rescued the tree, potting it and letting it recover. Now showing vigorous growth, it was clearly ready for its first styling. The tree is a Chamaecyparis obtusa, Hinoki Cypress, in an unknown dwarf variety.

I admit now to having a difficult time photographing Marco. He simply didn't stop moving!After passing around two albums and sign up sheet for his mailing list, Marco dove right into the tree. He showed us some of the most desirable details, especially in the lower trunk, as well as pointing out some of the flaws that are inevitable in collected material. With great taper up until the top portions of the trunk, some wonderful natural shari and deadwood on one side of the nebari, and an unsightly grafting line that was visible from one side, we had a pretty clear idea of what the strengths and weaknesses of the tree were.

There had been a dieback on the trunk due to the natural deadwood on the one side of the nebari. Several branches had died back and been removed. Though the bark still clung to the trunk, it was brittle and dead, ready for a shari up much of one side of the trunk. Marco let us know that as it would be a nearly necessary part of the end design, we would clear that section first, and then choose a front based on the different angles of that shari.

As he worked he talked about life lines on the tree, pointing out several that could become shari at some point in the tree's future if so desired.

Only the roughest base of the shari was completed, just enough to give us a clear idea of the shape. Details could be decided later by the eventual owner (this tree will be raffled off at our Christmas event). There was a challenge in choosing a front, as both possible sides had pros and cons. One side, featuring more elegant, almost literati lines, was marred by the bulge and line of the graft and a poor removal of a dead branch, the scar remaining prominent and unworkable at the moment. The other side showed the shari and the deadwood nebari to better effect, making that view more dynamic rather than elegant. The first branch however was coming directly out from the front on this view, and would have to be dealt with.

Though both sides were viable options, and after each member was given a chance to explain why they had a preference for each side, the side with the better view of the shari was chosen. The club was split right down the middle on preference, and Marco's deciding vote was cast due not to the positive aspect of the side, but due to the graft mark on the other side. There was nothing that could ever be done to mask that, short of radically extending the shari, and that was the deciding factor for the front.

Though Marco would be removing a bit of foliage, he assured us that it would not be "too much" for the tree to handle. He still left enough foliage for the tree to flourish, and as we've had (and are slated to continue having) a very warm and mild autumn, there should be no risk to the tree. He stressed that he only touched what he was going to prune. Something he learned from Kimura was that trees "don't like to be touched." Touching of foliage, especially buds can slow their growth."Touch the tree as little as possible."

After the pruning and the addition of two small, but well placed jin, Marco started wiring. He always works in an order, finishing one job before starting on the next, rather than jumping around. As the shari and pruning had been finished, he moved on to moving the position of the front "eye poker" branch. Rather than anchoring the wire to a higher branch, he wired the branch and then secured the guy wire that would pull the branch back to the wire already at the base of the branch, eliminating any unsightly wires hanging all over the tree.

Marco wired each and every branch. Every last single branch. This was the longest portion (for obvious reasons) and he opened it up to questions. Few were about the tree itself, rather focusing on his training with Kimura (difficult but eye opening), his favorite material to work on (Larch), his time in Japan, among others. When we did talk about wiring, he showed us how to keep it not too tight, but tight enough, as well as some other little tips and tricks especially for wiring small branches. When the whole thing was finished, when viewed from the top you could see just how well spread out all of the branches were, how much work and detail he had put into separating the foliage pads. Due to some of the larger bends he'd put into the branches, he'd also been very careful to make certain that all of the foliage was facing up. Cypress (and most other trees for later matter) are sensitive to light on the underside of leaves, and having the bottom of the leaves facing up is a recipe for leaf burn.

I was pleased to see no "instant bonsai" in this demo. The tree still clearly has a long way to go, but the groundwork has been laid for a truly beautiful bonsai at some point in the future. Between good stock and a great artist, this Hinoki Cypress, often considered one of the more difficult types of trees to work with and keep beautiful, will make a stunning addition to one of our member's collections this Christmas. Marco went over with us all some of things that could be done in the future with this tree, different options, some work that will need to be done, but enough that the next owner will have a strong hand in the continued shaping of this tree.

We offer sincere thanks to Marco Invernezzi who took the time to work with our club on this piece. It was a learning experience for the club, and one we won't soon forget.Thank you Marco. Your friends in Bonsai. -The Bonsai Society of Greater New York