Valentin Brose works on a small sabina juniper

Text and photography: Bonsai Focus Studio

Valentin Brose is an up-coming artist from Germany. He has spent three years as a so-called Deshi, or apprentice, with Kunio Kobayashi. Here he shows off his skills on a medium-sized sabina juniper.

Best part of the trunk is situated here. Interesting shari and jin

This work was carried out in November 2011 during the first visit of Valentin to our studio. We selected this juniper because it was elegantly shaped and not too big. However, all its foliage grows at the top. All this combines to make it an interesting case study. The aim of Valentin was to create a compact tree; to reach this goal he had to use the technique of branch splitting. After this it should be possible to bend the top part so that the foliage comes closer to the lower section of the trunk, which has an interesting shari. That was the challenge.

Analysing the tree

The quality of the trunk lies mainly in the zigzag shape and the deadwood. The top needs to come down to the left

Good news and bad news: it has much foliage, but it all grows at the top Positioning the tree at the angle at which I am going to work. Note how the movement of the tree improves

Seen from this side the downward facing jin is very dominant and there is less movement in the trunk

Cleaning out the rotted material and loose bark from the deadwood with tweezers

Then I use a copper brush to clean off more dead parts of bark from the deadwood

Helped by a Dremel I am carefully sanding off the rotten layer of wood; I don’t use too much force lest I carve into the grain and spoil it


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