First wiring attempt

I started wiring a young common juniper (my first wiring!). I didn’t get far (it’s too cold!), but it gave me some idea of where I still need to learn more. So I have some questions.

The tree was quite young, and the trunk perhaps only 4mm thick. The branches were thus really thin, and difficult to handle. My idea was that it’d be easier to shape from young, but did I try wire too early? I used 2mm copper wire for the trunk, and while it went on mostly alright, I kept introducing gaps between the wire and trunk; Ryan says no gaps - where do you think I might be going wrong? I also found I was sometimes wiring over the branches, especially the lower ones.

I made one attempt at wiring the branches, but because they’re so thin it was tricky. I switched to aluminium for the branches, as I don’t have thin enough copper wire - was this a mistake? It was difficult wrapping the wire around the tips of the branches.

Lastly, I had a brief attempt at pruning a branch to obtain bifurcation, but I noticed the juniper sort of almost already does that?

Lots of questions, but my idea going into this was to have a small taste, come back to learn, and iterate. Would appreciate any help, as always!

Practice, practice, practice:)
I cant compare my work now to when I started almost 5 years ago:)

Learn from your mistakes now. Ryan also says it needs to be functional.

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First do you have a picture?

A rough rule of thumb is the wire needed is 1/3 of the thickness of the branch.

There is no real issue switching the type of wire if you don’t have the size you want in the same metal. Or at least that’s how I see it! It does look neater in all the same and I will not lie I do prefer to do it all the same myself.

I’ll try take a pic this afternoon after I’ve done a bit more work on it. For the meantime though, here’s the tree before any wiring:

Is it better to use wire that’s too thick or too thin if you don’t have the right size?

I just noticed the trunk tapers, so what wire thickness do I pick? Do I go by the base of the trunk?

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What do you do when you’re wiring a branch and realise its too short?

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I am assuming you have watched the videos on wiring.
The technique for no "gaps’ is achieved with how you use your fingers to hold the wire tight against the branch/trunk.
Try using pipe cleaner for practice, it will help with learning the motions for your hands and fingers.
It is inexpensive and you can use it over and over.
Practice Practice Practice


Here are the results of my first attempt. Critique welcome!

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Yes, I watched the beginner + 2 more advanced videos where Ryan wired cuttings clamped to a bench. I think I kind of got the hang of it. It was easier with aluminium wire I used on the branches, whereas the challenge I had was using copper wire on the trunk. I’ll try pipe cleaners, thanks for the idea!

Also, there were a few times I felt I was crushing the needles a bit. I kept fine tuning my grip and I think I got better, although the thin branches kept getting snipped off at the end no matter how hard I tried avoid it. Is that OK?


Here’s the beginning of styling my 2nd one, this time a Chinese Juniper. I’m trying to get a cascade effect.


I dont see the trunk-wire as bad, a few gaps, yes, but it gets the job done. You will get better with more wire. The pipecleaners will help getting the layout of things correct, it wont help getting stronger ^^

The bends I see are far to nice, they can be alot tighter. As you bend left, watch the right side of the trunk for a slight tear. Then stop.

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Some adjustments

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I agree the wiring is fairly good for a first attempt. I would put much stronger curves into the tree. The last image looks a bit like a question mark.

Stronger curves in the trunk, branches, or both?

Here’s another attempt. I don’t know if you can clearly make it out without the depth, but I tried making two steps and then winded the apex to the left. I’d like to sharpen the bends, but I’m nervous about breaking the trunk. So I’m considering letting it grow and iterating on the bends next year?

Chopped off a letter in that link, sorry

Definitely better curves in the new version. I would try to get some more in the lower trunk as well. Remember to get some front to back curves and that the curves will mellow out as the tree grows - it puts more girth on the inside of the curve than the outside.

I would also suggest taking pictures against a plainer background if possible - I use a piece of black poster board or the side of the house for routine pictures. It is also fairly easy to use the link that looks like a picture to directly post the picture to the Mirai forum.

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Currently the trunk curves are front to back. Do you mean to add ones coming forward, or to the sides? Sorry a bit confused by your comment.

I’ll see if I can find a plain background. Nothing I have jumps to mind now, but I’ll give it some more thought. I usually reply via email from my phone when I’m outside; I’ll start using the web app when I want to share pics.

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I agree with the others. The wiring looks good. Keep practicing. The size of the wire on the trunk doesn’t look too bad.

With the choice between too thick or thin a wire it really depends. You need to ask what are you trying to do. If you are putting a lot of heavy movement in to something can the smaller wire hold it? Ask yourself if the wire is functional. Ryan mentions this often in several videos.


I was finding it difficult to tighten the wire onto the secondary branches of the Chinese Juniper I’m working on. I think I was using 1mm aluminium wire. It felt like thicker wire might have done too much damage. I wonder if copper wire of the same thickness (which I don’t think I have) would work better?