Origami Willow Bonsai 1 - the Trunk



Introduction: Origami Willow Bonsai 1 - the Trunk

This is the first of four videos that describe how to create an origami willow bonsai tree.

This video demonstrates creating a wire frame, covering it with paper mache, leaving an inch of bare wire from each branch, then applying a layer of fine brown paper as tree bark.

See the other videos in this series:

Also see the Origami Rose Bush Bonsai, for another origami bonsai project and more helpful information about creating a range of tree designs.

Origami Willow Bonsai
The following is a list of materials needed for the entire project, and the steps taken to create the origami willow bonsai.


You'll need to gather a few materials, roughly in the order you'll need them:
-20 Gage copper wire (or some other soft flexible wire)
-50-100 1 inch strips of news print
-1-2 cups of paper mache glue (1:5 flour:water, Stirred briskly, brought to a boil for a minute or two, then cooled before use (add a tsp of salt to prevent mould)
-*Green, and brown tissue foil (you'll need to make this this: tissue, heavy duty kitchen foil, white glue)
-Fine brown textured paper for the trunk of the bonsai (or some brown paint)
-Small bonsai pot
-Small piece of foam for flower arranging
-A cup or two of coloured aquarium gravel
-A small handful of sheet moss (optional)

*for details on naming tissue foil, see:
Origami Rose Bush Bonsai 2 -Tissue Foil

Small pair of pliers for shaping the copper wire frame
Sharp scissors
Box cutter or razor knife
2" paint roller (for making tissue foil)
Pencil & ruler
1 inch paint brush
Thin, blunt stick for shaping

Step 1
Find Examples of bonsai trees
Create a wire frame frame for the trunk and branches your bonsai tree.

Use a thin flexible wire. I use 20 gauge copper.

Step 2
Cut some foot long one inch strips of newsprint

Make your paper mache glue. Two cups should be enough for one tree.

1 part flour
5 parts water

Bring four cups of the water to a boil. Mix the remaining cup of water with the cup of flour, and stir briskly to break up lumps. Stir the flour/water mixture into the boiling water, stirring constantly. Bring it back to a slow boil for a few moments, or until the thickening glue is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool. Done.

Add a teaspoon of salt to prevent mould when storing the glue. Store in a refrigerator. Optionally warm the glue in a microwave oven when reused

Step 3
Apply paper mache to the wire frame.

Wrap 6 or 7 layers around the trunk base, 3 or 4 layers around the mid sections of the tree, and 1 or 2 layers to the outer branches. Try to rub out as many bubbles as possible as you are going along, and shape the paper on the outer branches as cylindrical as possible during the first application of paper mache strips. It may be the last layer before the bark is applied.

Wait a day for drying, or until it dries hard.

Step 4
While you're waiting, Make flowers and leaves

The videos describe how to make the flowers and the leaves for the the Origami Willow Bonsai. There are many other possibilities for flowers and leaves with a Google or YouTube search

Apply another layer or paper mache if you want the trunk thicker. Every day or two
apply another 6 or 7 layers to the base of the trunk, and 3 or 4 to the mid section.

Step 6
...more paper mache

Step 7
...make more flowers an leaves..

Step 8
Apply the bark paper to the trunk with paper mache glue.
There are lots of options for finishing the trunk. The video describes applying a fine wood-grained paper, but you could also paint the trunk, if you can't find a bark-like looking paper.

I found mine at the Paper Place:

Step 9
...more flowers and leaves while things dry

Step 10
Apply a second layer of fine brown paper to the trunk

Step 11
Affix the leaves (white glue if necessary to keep things solidly affixed).

Step 12
Press some flower arrangement foam into the bonsai pot snugly. Feed the wire through the foam and out through the holes in the bottom of the pot and tie down the bonsai with the excess copper wire.
White glue the trunk into place around the base of the trunk and around between the foam and side of the pot.

Step 13
Cover the foam with gravel, and add a little sheet moss for character.

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