Climbing Clematis Ikebana

First things first, I’d like to apologise for the relative radio silence this week. There’s been an unfortunate confluence of events; injuries to both my hands combined with more insufferable heat and humidity make it very hard to do things like work with textiles or review tea. I’ve also been in a bit of a bad mood today, dealing with some tech issues. I decided it was time to slow down and focus on something that would improve my mental state and not exacerbate my hand injuries – time for ikebana!

I knew going into it that I wanted to feature this awesome Tawami aluminium vase by AlArt that I received recently, and I wanted to keep the arrangement very minimal so as not to compete with it. I knew our clematis was blooming, and then I remembered I still had some curly willow branches lying around that would work as an excellent structure to wrap them around. Clematis vines are very thin and fragile, and if I’d just put them in alone they would have flopped over and looked very sad indeed. It feels very organic and balances out the sharp, modern lines of the vase perfectly.

Putting this together was exactly what I needed. It made me stop and focus on something other than the issues that were frustrating me. For half an hour, all that mattered was the plant matter between my fingers. Ikebana can be  a wonderful form of meditation, where you have to slow down and “listen” to what the flowers have to say, and how they want to interact with each other and the vessel you’ve chosen. If you find yourself going at top speed constantly and find that traditional “sit down and think of nothing” mindfulness techniques don’t work well for you, I urge you to give something like this a try!

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Sweet Creamsicle Ikebana

During the summer, I really do try to work with flowers from the great outdoors but when I saw this marked-down bouquet at the grocery store I felt an overwhelming urge to rescue it. I realise that the flowers were dyed by tinting the water orange, but come on, they look like a creamsicle!

The bouquet was a little past due and a fair number of the flowers were beyond salvaging, but I managed to rescue the large spider mum and the carnations which were what drew me to the bundle in the first place. I didn’t have a lot of length to play with so I focused on a small, tight, rounded shape with a little height for drama.

The oranges and creamy peach tones got a bit lost against the backdrop but then I remembered I had this awesome shibori-like fabric which provides great contrast.

Overall, this might not be the most dramatic or stylish arrangement I’ve put together, but there’s something undeniably charming and happy about it, and we could all use a little more happiness in our lives right now.

Nageire Crabapple Ikebana

As I mentioned a while back, the climate here in Montreal isn’t exactly ideal for sakura, but you can bet that as soon I saw a crabapple tree with these ruffly pink blooms on it on public land by the side of the road, I convinced my father to pull over so I could go cut some. Yes, I do keep a pair of pruning secaturs in the car for just this sort of situation. I have no shame at this point. Don’t worry though, I definitely don’t trespass or take flowers from private or manicured gardens!

These blooms are so lovely and have the perfect textural balance of rough bark and soft petals. I knew that I wasn’t going to include any other type of flower or vegetation to make sure they stayed the focus of the whole arrangement. I wanted to do a nageire (thrown-in) style ikebana, just relying on a tall vase and the natural inclination of the branches, rather than the more structural moribana style with a kenzan that I seem to gravitate towards most of the time. I was also thrilled to finally be able to use this vase; I received it as a surprise in the mail a while back. Whoever sent it (I’m going to take a guess that you read this blog), thank you so much. It’s so beautiful!

A couple of blossoms fell off as I was arranging the branches and they felt so pretty and natural and emblematic of the short-lived beauty of spring that I decided to leave them where they were. And yes, I used my new screen again. Sorry not sorry! I think it may become my default setup for my ikebana posts. I also couldn’t resist taking a couple of close-ups. Should I include detail shots of my arrangements more often? Let me know in the comments!

Vibrant Poppy Ikebana

More beauties from our garden – this time it’s these stunning, vibrant poppy blossoms! Poppies hold a special place in this household, for multiple reasons. My mother’s name is Poppy, and my parents met in the Canadian Armed Forces, so the poppy also represents remembrance. There are poppy-themed items all over our house, I have poppies incorporated into one of my tattoos, and of course my mother planted some in our front garden.

I really wanted this piece to be a very simple and clean arrangement with no clutter. I went for a traditional format inspired by what I learned of the Sogetsu school style at the workshop I attended a few months back. A plain white vessel and black pedestal serve to anchor the whole thing while ensuring that all the focus remains on the blossoms themselves. And look, no screen today! Don’t worry though, it’ll definitely be back soon.

Bountiful Garden Ikebana

Today’s ikebana is inspired by our beautiful, bountiful garden. I love this time of year. It’s not oppressively hot or humid yet, but it’s warm and sunny and there are flowers blooming everywhere! It’s not great for my allergies, but they’re so pretty I can deal with it.

Everything in this arrangement came from the garden. Irises are one of my favourite flowers of all time, and my mother planted these gorgeous rich purple ones for me. I managed to catch them at the perfect time, freshly bloomed and vibrant. The lilacs are reaching the end of their life cycle, but I still liked the soft, textural quality they brought to the arrangement, helping to balance out the roughness of the wood. The leaves are from a huge ligularia plant. It’s nowhere near blooming yet, but I do hope to use some blossoms off it when it does.

I’m still riding the wave of motivation I got at the ikebana display last week. I was particularly inspired by the use of driftwood in several pieces there, as well as in one of those charming books Naomi sent me.  I put my smaller kenzan in a little glass dish and nestled it into one of the natural curves of the wood. Funny story, this piece of wood is actually an old decoration from our aquarium. Our plecostomus likes to chew on them and smooth them out so we’ve got a bunch of old ones lying around.

Of course, I had to make use of the screen I made last week. I’m so pleased with how it looks, and it has an added bonus of helping diffuse light which makes the photos look much more even. I’m certain you will be seeing a lot more of this screen! I’m tempted to make one in black as well but I have lots of other things that need to be finished first.