Based on a play on scale of the well-known Japanese horticultural art form called Bonsai, this piece reflects the 1920’s during the great depression, leading into the industrial revolution. The fabrication process pays homage to the craftsmen of this time and the build materials were manufactured during this time period as well.
The Bonsai is fully handcrafted with an oxyacetylene torch and steel beams riveted together rather than welded. All of the steel has been sourced from railroad bridges, building demolitions, and miscellaneous reclaim yards across the country.
Bonsai starts with a large-scale traditional bonsai planter, made of salvaged steel and hardware. The exterior of the planter is weathered and fastened using hot rivets to reflect an industrial revolution/empire state building feel. Along the top edge of the planter is a three-foot catwalk that can be used for performances.
The center of the planter houses a dozen large real granite boulders. The Bonsai’s trunk, clad in a bronze mirror and glass mosaic, rises out of the center and branches out into three large inflatables representing the organic foliage or canopy of the Bonsai. The storyboard for the inflatables is a mix of airships representing the time period of the Hindenburg, and mylar weather balloons.
The lighting for the project consists of ground lighting around the perimeter of the planter, up lighting from atop the planter is nestled in the granite boulders, and a high-powered cluster inside the inflatables creates a canopy glow. The lighting storyboard during the building process was supported by Edison bulbs, old movie spotlights, underground speakeasy’s, and candle light.