Analysis of what 'works' and what 'does not work' in the creation of bonsai: Branch Rules.

As in all arts, bonsai usually conforms to a set of conventions, guidelines, or 'rules'. Rules is probably the worst word of the three to describe what most artists do to create bonsai, but it is the word that most people serendipity, as well use.

These rules are not cast in stone and are frequently broken as the situation demands, but they are excellent guidelines for the creation of beautiful bonsai, and are invaluable to persons learning bonsai. They simplify what otherwise would be a bewildering set of decisions.

These rules mostly come from the Japanese culture of bonsai over the last few centuries. They are an analysis of what 'works', and what 'doesn't work' in the creation of bonsai. Almost anyone can create a decent looking bonsai by following these rules, whether or not one has any native talent. That is the beauty of this distillation. Of course, very good bonsai will still depend upon talent, experience, inspiration, and serendipity, as well as a general conformity to the rules of bonsai.

In addition to the trunk, the branches play a very important role in the overall appearance of the Bonsai, as you will see from the rules listed below:
• Branches should not cross the trunk.
• Branches should not be crossed.
• Any branches poking out should not be pointed toward the viewer’s angle.
• All branches should be on the outside of the curves.
• The first branch should be located about one-third up the height of the tree with any succeeding branches at one-third the rest of the distance to the top of the tree Any branches should be on the outside of the curves
• The first branch should be to the left or right and then the next branch, on the opposite side. In other words, the branches would be left, right, left, right, etc.
• The branch caliper must be in proportion to the tree trunk.
• Any branches that are thicker than one-third the caliper of the trunk would be considered too thick.
• There should be no parallel branches, only visually alternate.
• Branches should reduce in size and caliper, as they ascend.
• The branches should have space between them to give the visual that birds could fly through.
• The first and second branches should be forward of the midline.
• There should be just one branch per trunk position. In other words, no whorled, bar, or wheel and spoke branches.
• The first, second, and third branches should be 120 degrees apart, making sure the branch at the back is not directly behind the tree.
• Any secondary branches should alternate left and right, following the rules of the main branch placement. This will help create foliage pad.
• The branches should create a scalene triangle with the apex, which is a representative of God, the middle corner is man, and the lower corner is the earth.
• The branches for the Cascade style will typically follow the same rules as that of the Upright style, with the exception that the trunk will move down.
• The goal with Bonsai is to make the tree look old. To do this, you will need to wire the branches, training them in the style you want.
• With twin trees, you do not want branches between the trees to cross the trunks.
• Make sure no Jin is hidden in the foliage

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