Construction of Metal Stand for Juniper

Though this little Juniper has already made a cameo or two on the blog, this post is a photo essay of the construction and thinking behind its new metal support.

Enjoy the photos!

A few of our elements for this project: A Rocky-mountain Juniper (collected courtesy Backcountry Bonsai), grafted about 10 years ago with Itoigawa shimpaku; the original nylon slab (lower right); the new 3D-printed slab (lower left); and part of the metal structure where the tree will be attached.

This was amazing. Collaborator Kevin Bennett made our 3D-printed slab, which is plastic. What was so cool was he found printing material that had fine iron dust in it. Which meant we could patina it and have it blend in with the patinated metal support. That’s the marvelous earthy-toned thing we’re looking at here, rusted plastic. Erich, my other collaborator, is making wiring holes.

Siting the juniper on the 3D-printed slab. The root mass needed reduction to fit on this smaller slab.

This is where the slab will attach with bolts.

Attachment of the new 3D-printed slab to metal structure.

Here’s the metal slinky-like support, about 3’ long.


Here is one tangle we tussled over. This is an earlier shot of the support. The bouncing slinky seemed simpler if—as a visual story—it bounced onto the table and then rebounded into another arc. One bounce in, once bounce out. But here we thought we needed the structural support of the third metal strip in the middle, but it looked busy. And Erich said he’d try to take it out. Like the wizard he is, he succeeded. In short, the first try was overly complex, and to make a clearer visual story we simplified it by taking one metal strip out.

And here’s the Juniper on the slinky stand. The thinking behind this one is time. How a tree changes, with the slinky-like bounces of the metal support (hopefully) giving a sense of passage of time, setbacks, advances—the usual life stuff. Like a lot of visual art there’s no expectation someone would “get” that looking at it, but the idea serves as a scaffolding on which to create. Content can be mysterious, even if successful. Which is why we keep looking at art, I think. There’s often an unanswered question there. 

This Juniper will be on display at the Pacific Bonsai Museum through September 2023.

For the first post on this Juniper about styling and placement on the nylon slab, try A Juniper Orchid

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  1. Ryan says:

    What a fantastic intersection of form and function! Thanks for sharing your process on this one Michael.

  2. phil harden says:

    this is way cool!!!!!

  3. TPeterson says:

    I am intrigued by the 3D printed slab having iron in it, such a simple addition really transforms the material into something different than a slab of plastic!

  4. Ayla Baha says:

    Absolutely amazing! And what an incredible idea to execute.

  5. This metal stand construction for the Juniper is truly a blend of artistic vision and technical ingenuity. The use of a 3D-printed slab with embedded iron dust for patination is a stroke of brilliance, seamlessly harmonizing with the rusted metal support. The collaborative effort behind this project is evident, with careful consideration for aesthetics and functionality. The evolving story depicted by the slinky-like support adds a unique dimension, reflecting the passage of time and the journey of the tree. Moreover, this project highlights the significance of Aluminium Fabrication in creating intricate structures that marry form and function, demonstrating the versatility and craftsmanship of this material in artistic endeavours.

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