#BonsaiNews: The art of Jin and Shari, an expert's technique at illusion of age [UPDATE]
DEADWOOD or more respectively known as Jin and Shari techniques, is the art of removing evergreen bonsai bark to create a truly characteristic look and feel, making any young tree (or old) look as though it as withstood the test of time.
An example of Jin and Shari:
(IMAGE SOURCE: YouTube)
In terms of definition - Jin is the stripping bare of branches whereas Shari, is the removal of bark from a tree.
Although some apply this technique to deciduous bonsai, I would advise you not to do so as it won't last - the deadwood often rot and fall off and, at times, even looks unpleasant and unnatural.
In an earlier article titled: #BonsaiNews: What's so great about Juniper bonsai? Simply; Everything! I highlighted that Jin and Shari can be applied during (and treated) both winter months and spring.
It is best to avoid doing this during summer.
In nature, these effects are often found in areas where severe weather patterns occur however, they are able to be recreated over time using a few simple, however tricky, techniques.
Most commonly, lightning strikes cause similar effects on trees - severe periods of drought can do the same, as can severe cold weather, which may cause death in branches. The sun then over a period of time 'bleaches' the damaged or dead piece of wood - creating this marvelous feature.
Jin pliers can be used to create an aging or deadwood effect on a bonsai tree by stripping the branch to create a Jin (This tool is not cheap).
(IMAGE SOURCE: www.easternleaf.com)
Continue to remove the desired amount of bark from the tree and thereafter use some sandpaper to smooth it out. (Jin can be utilised all over the tree).
Now, continue to bleach the Jin and apply lime sulfur so as to prevent the tree from rotting and leave it to stand over night.
Previously, @romanolsamuels highlighted that I had been careless (and rightfully so) in not mentioning that this should only be done by experts, as lime sulphur can kill your tree if it comes into contact with the roots of the tree.
Experts use this technique to create a truly marvelous look on their bonsai as well as to create the illusion of age however, creating the perfect Shari or Jin takes a real steady hand, a lot of patience and many failed attempts as it is one of the most difficult feats to create a truly natural looking Jin or Shari.
Now, before you start, it is very important to know where your work path will be as one error could cause major damage to the tree, especially if you end up preventing the lack of nutrient flow due to over application of Shari.
Another important point, is to bring us back to 'patience'. Do not attempt to do everything in one simple go - this practice takes years and there is a reason for that.
Start small and gradually, over a period of time, widen the application until you have reached your desired result. It is very important that you continue to apply lime sulfur with each gradual peel (once you have completed the set amount of work) as this will prevent infection.
@romanolsamuels previously also highlighted that inks can be used in this regard as well, so as to avoid a 'too white' look however, I personally love the bony look - at the end of the day, it is about what you prefer taste wise.
It is also very important, in order to create the natural look, that you allow your Shari to run into the soil below the surface.
With regard to Jin, elongated or short branches which you prefer not to grow, may be twisted and bent as preferred (you literally want to damage these branches to create a very dramatic impression however, be careful as you do not want to break off the branch and waste months of work.
After quite some time has gone by, generally a year, you may note that the Shari and Jin may have turned a shade of green - simply use a toothbrush and some water to remove this before again applying lime sulfur.
The best, and safest way of applying lime sulfur is through the use of an artistic paint brush - generally, the smaller the better.
Now, one of the best trees to apply both Jin and Shari to just so happens to be the Chinese Juniper - have a look at the post I mentioned earlier toward the top of this article.
Junipers are able to withstand copious amounts of work in one go and can more than handle several applications however, know your limits as well as that of the tree. (for a prime example of the torture a juniper can withstand, go visit: INSTANT REWARD WITH BLAAUW JUNIPER
A tip you can take home with you: If you do not know how to do this, get an expert to do it for you - especially if you have an old, valuable tree.
Have you applied Jin or Shari to your bonsai? Share your progress by commenting on this post.
That's a wrap.
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