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Bonsai stands, impressed by nature


Cedar. The design of this stand flows from the attribute downward droop of cedar foliage. The sting of the tabletop curves towards the ground, and the cloud-lift brackets cling downward additionally.

Synopsis: Most woodworkers make furnishings from bushes; Austin Heitzman makes furnishings for bushes. Bonsai bushes, to be precise. Whereas the artwork of bonsai seeks to form the tree in particular methods, Austin shapes the stand that each helps the tree and enhances its design. Right here, he explains the philosophy behind his work.


Woodworkers typically let the tree encourage their work; I produce work for bushes, particularly tables and stands for bonsai.

Bonsai (pronounced bone-sigh) is the artwork of evoking the chic in nature by rigorously cultivating bushes. These are common tree species, saved compact by rising them in small pots and progressively trimming, bending, and carving them. The aim is to form the tree to seem historical and weathered, as if plucked from the wild. Any woody plant generally is a bonsai, although some species take to it higher than others.

bonsai tree on a limber pine stand
Limber pine. This pine’s curvy roots and Chinese language pot made Heitzman consider American bomb  furnishings, which can be Asian in origin. Sculpting massive curves from thick lumber, he created a seamless bomb  define in a easy but refined stand.

It’s a posh and time-consuming artwork, and bushes usually take a long time to succeed in a “completed” state. The Nationwide Bonsai Museum in Washington, D.C., has a tree from Japan that has been in its pot for nearly 400 years. The origins of the artwork date again to Eighth-century China, the place it was referred to as penjing. The Japanese tailored the thought, added their very own model, and referred to as it bonsai, that means “tree in a tray.” In the present day the artwork is practiced world wide.

Bonsai tree on a Ponderosa pine stand
Ponderosa pine. The cabriole-inspired entrance legs replicate the movement of the tree and the acute mountain forces that formed it.

To be able to survive, a bonsai tree have to be grown exterior year-round. They’re introduced indoors for only a few days at a time to be proven as artwork, historically on a stand or slab and accompanied by a small potted accent plant and typically a scroll. These different components are chosen to offer a way of the place the tree is rising and what will be discovered from its historical expertise. High bushes generally fetch $30,000 to $50,000 in the USA, and as much as $1 million in Japan.

I used to be first uncovered to the artwork of bonsai—and handmade furnishings—whereas rising up in Indonesia. When my spouse and I moved to Portland, Ore., to pursue a profession in craft, I discovered myself within the epicenter of America’s rising bonsai group, and determined to see if there was a marketplace for distinctive, rigorously designed stands. I’ve since carved out a distinct segment for myself crafting show tables for bonsai lovers and professionals world wide.

In formal Japanese show, the stand serves as a body of kinds however isn’t thought-about a part of the creative tableau the best way the tree, pot, and different accents are. For me and my purchasers, nevertheless, integrating the stand extra absolutely into the tree’s story and panorama permits for a extra attention-grabbing show.

How to attract inspiration from Asia

bonsai tree on a low stand
Winter hazel. This can be a widespread Japanese desk design with just a few deviations. Heitzman made the inside line thinner so as to add femininity to the massive stand. The tiny spindles add power and evoke the visible noise of deciduous branches.

My earliest influences had been American Colonial. The extra I explored them, nevertheless, the extra I found their roots in Europe and past, main me out of my consolation zone. Bonsai stands have proven me find out how to mine Asian furnishings for design components, and inspired me to make use of curves in my work.

Like many fashionable furnishings designers, I’m not a lot trying to faithfully recreate a selected interval piece as appearing as a historic pillager, digesting as a lot inspiration as potential and utilizing elements and items as I see match. I encourage you to let your individual influences wander. You’ll advance your craft, develop your creativity, and maintain your follow contemporary and new.

I start any design with a collection of fast sketches. I like to determine form and motion earlier than getting too choosy about proportions and scale. Additionally, I deal with only one or two central design components, like a foot element or skirt, and let these inform the remainder of the design. Solely after I’ve settled on the final look do I determine the logistics. For the massive hemlock under, I embedded metallic brackets within the stand to assist the miter joints face up to the acute leverage of the 150-lb. tree. For 3-way miters like these within the winter-hazel stand at left, I exploit a method outlined in FWW #169, which delivers clear appears to be like with fashionable manufacturing strategies. For the limber pine stand, I did cove cuts on the tablesaw to take away waste from the within curves, roughed out the outer curves with bevel cuts on the tablesaw, after which refined their form with handplanes.

bonsai tree on a hemlock stand
Hemlock. This can be a conventional stand design Heitzman turned on its facet to place extra air below the tree’s excessive overhang.

From Tremendous Woodworking #295

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