The surprising inspiration for Mauro Stemberger's yamadori pine.

Text and photography: Farrand Bloch

It was late summer last year when I was invited by Enrico Savini to go to his studio in Italy for an article about his itoigawa juniper (see issue BF 2-2014 March April). After the work with Enrico, his close friend Mauro Stemberger was next in line for a demo. He arrived with his group of students and a huge pine. 'I call it the Pole dancer,' Mauro explained while showing me the tree. 'It has a long straight trunk with just one cascading branch which, just like a pole dancer, winds around the trunk.' I didn't really get that image, but after Mauro showed me a picture of a pole dancer I was convinced!

Armada of hands

There's always an 'armada' of helping hands when Mauro does a demonstration for Bonsai Focus. Last time he did one for us everything was accompanied by lots of noise, jokes, music and theatrical gestures. It was no different this time, only with even more pairs of helping hands.

Tasks are carefully assigned to each individual. This makes recording what is happening a real challenge for me because things happen in every corner. Not a problem for Mauro because he is a real champion in multi tasking, managing his students, correcting and teaching them, making jokes and at the same time texting on his phone or adding new photos to Facebook.

Massimo starts working on the ugly stump at the base


The whole team works together on this project, with Mauro supervising of course. Mauro inspects the stump at the top while Matteo concentrates on wrapping the branches with textile netting

With a marker Mauro sets out the borders where the shari will run.


Milan Karpíšek cuts the textile netting into long strips.


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