Cheap and easy to use alternative for Raffia.

Bending a branch or a trunk with the help of aluminium or copper wire is one of the most important and commonly used techniques when styling raw material or Bonsai. Hard to bend and easy breakable branches or even trunks are often tightly wrapped within water-soaked Raffia before the wire is applied to protect them from cracking or breaking. when that is done properly the change of breaking while bending is reduced to a minimum! But the appliance of a bundle of these sometimes 1.5 meters long and socking wet strings of Raffia on a good ramified or smaller tree with little room to move and breakable branches and foliage is not that easy! No fare from it, because they get stuck behind every little branch or foliage and more often than not small branches are broken when applying wet Raffia, especially on deciduous trees! So A couple of years ago to avoid that risk of damage, I started to use regular household 5 mm Sisal rope that you can buy all over the world in any good household store. A long enough cut off piece of Sisal rope is so much easier to hold, handle and apply than those heavy wet sticking to everything strings of Ravia! When the branch/trunk is enough protected with tightly wrapped Sisal, I will wet the Sisal thoroughly with water and then seal it all tightly with electrical tape. This way the Ravia will stay wet for many months preventing little cracks that might occur from bending to dry out! The necessary wires to bend the branch or trunk are applied over the tape and then bending can be done safely!

Below: A thumbs thick Prunus mahaleb yamadori trunk is safely heavily bent with a minimum of wires. The branch on the left side still needs to be soaked and tightly wrapped with tape.

Below: Taped, wirred and bended with out any damage or problems!

Below: Late summer the tape is cut with a sharp hobby knife and removed! Without any harm or damage, the Sisal rope is very easily rewound to get it off…so much easier and safer than with Raffia!!!

Give it a try the next time you have to protect a branch or trunk on a difficult to reach or fragile tree!

Cheers and stay safe!

Hans van Meer.

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