In this post, we will be talking about raffia and how you can use it to bend branches in o your bonsai tree. Do you know how to bend a bonsai branch?
What is Raffia?
Raffia is essentially a natural current fiber that comes from a palm tree.
What we’re concerned about is protecting the cambium layer on our branches. So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to use this to wrap it around the branches to protect the layer when we do heavy branches.
Raffia starts out looking like this:
Usually, you can buy it like this. It comes in the big roll pack; so once you get it, start separating it into strands.
We’re going to take out little strands like this one by one just like this and the goal of this is just to create a thicker strand that we can wrap around the branches.
What we do is (depending on the thickness of the branch and how heavy the bend is) we’re going to make the grouping.
I’ve got 4 or 5 strands here together, but it is much too thin.
I’m going to add some thin ones one by one. It’s going to get a little bit bigger; to about 15 strands. If you’ve got a thicker branch that you need to bend, you’re going to have to go a little bit thicker. That way you can really protect the branch that you’re wrapping it around that you’re planning on bending.
It’s really strong when put together. If you have only one, it’s going to tear; but if you got a grouping of them it’s going to be really strong.
What we’re going to do is to tie them together. Take one strand and wrap it around the end and we just tighten it up. We make a tight double knot because we want to make sure that doesn’t slip away.
Now, I cut the excess with my shears. Now it looks all nice and organized.
I’ve got this whole strand so what I’m going to do is I’m basically going to wrap this around the branches I want to bend.
The first thing I have to do is soak this because the raffia is much stronger when it’s wet. So, I’m going to put my little bundle in water for a few minutes.
The raffia has soaked for a little bit so we can take them out and it shouldn’t tangle. Now, I’m going to lay them on the table
You don’t want them fully soaking when you’re working on it so let’s let this drain.
I’m going to apply some raffia to a branch just to illustrate I use it and how to bend a little thicker branch that maybe you wouldn’t want to do with just wire and you want to protect it so you want a little bit of insurance.
With raffia, you can bend a branch without worrying that you’re going to kill the branch. I’m going to apply it to this one just for illustration purposes so you guys can see how to use the raffia once you prep the raffia how you can use it on your branch
Make sure that you have a very tight wrap around the area you want to bend. So start the raffia on that side just go around the branch.
Take the whole strand and go around the branch what you’ll actually do is you will end up wrapping so if you pull the whole strand you’ll be wrapping it over the raffia the end of the round so that way it keeps a thing and then you just kind of wrap it so once it’s locked in place.
Continue to move up a tree really tight. You will get dirty during this process. Since we use the full strand then we use the bundle here it’s got a really wide sort of surface area for you to wrap the branch. Now we’re going to find out where that branch is and weave through some of these branches; the ones we aren’t concerned with.
I’m basically creating a flat flattening out the raffia and just going around it slowly and I’m only concerned about that one branch. Now, this is actually a thinner branch you can use this technique on very thick branches.
At this point, I can stop. I will take two strands and spin them around each other and tie a knot.
Once it is nice and tight, cut off the excess.
Now if you’ve got your knots properly, there won’t be any slips. Now, the branch will be tight and properly protected. There won’t be any breaking points.
I’ve got a giant seven-wire that’s pretty thick so you want to make sure that you use when you use them somewhere that you have a very verygood manner that means that will not move will not budge at all applying this sometimes you gotta break out some other tools here so that you can get this anchor down really jin pliers are avery good way of doing it
I am now putting the wire around the breaking point. You can use raffia to create a bit of a barrier. Set it in the position and with time, the branch will be in that position.
I have seen a lot of people use different materials to do this. I’ve seen them use burlap rope or grafting tape, but, the overall goal is the same; to protect the cambium.
If you protect the cambium and you accidentally break the branch while doing the bend they’ll prevent it from chewing a bridge.