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.

Gentle Vintage Mood

I received this absolutely gorgeous piece yesterday, from a friend who was clearing out some of her collection. I am slowly turning into the kimono equivalent of a crazy cat lady, but I’m fine with that. I love how soft and subdued this piece is, and I wanted to emphasise a very gentle vintage mood with the coordination.

It started with this breathtaking haneri I posted on Instagram recently. I won it back in late October or possibly early November, and I had entirely given it up as lost. I got it at quite a bargain so I didn’t even bother pursuing the issue, since I suspected it was Canada Post’s problem. not the sellers. So imagine how thrilled I was when it showed up unexpectedly earlier this week! I thought the two pieces would complement each other very well, since the haneri has a bit of a vintage feel to it despite being a modern piece. I was really taken by how well the lilac tone matched the brown of the kimono and thought it would be a good opportunity to use my repaired lilac bird obi.

Some days, the actual physical act of dressing the mannequin goes very smoothly. Some days, every step is a struggle, almost as if the mannequin herself is fighting me. This particular outfit was somehow both! Putting on the collar and kimono went off without a hitch. Smooth lines, clean v-shape to the collars, flat and even ohashori. But then came the obi. This obi is gorgeous but my god it’s a nuisance. It’s floppy and slippery, the pattern is laid out very oddly, and it needs to be pressed again as it’s somehow turned almost puffy. No matter how many different ways I tried to tie it, I could not get birds to show up on the front and the back. Eventually I realised it would be an excellent opportunity to feature this stunning brooch I got from Pinto Pony Productions and use it as an obidome. Rather than fret about the lack of interest on the front of the obi, I worked with it to make it a canvas.

I know I say this a lot, but I love how this finally all pulled together. It’s such a soothing combination, and looking at it just makes me content.

Items used in this coordination

Shifuku and Usagi Houmongi

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve technically already seen this particular kimono, when I wore it out to the park (and then subsequently dinner, but I did not take photos of that) a few weeks back. I finally had some time to take proper catalogue photographs, and it’s a piece that really needs to be appreciated in detail.

The kimono is a subtle pastel gradient. I honestly did not even notice the gentle lavender at the shoulders until I hung it up to take the reference photos. The gold is also really soft and gentle. I don’t typically like large areas of gold leaf on a kimono, but on this one it’s not in-your-face.

However, the real magic is the embroidery on the front panels. I was informed that they are shifuku, or silk pouches used to protect items used during tea ceremony. The embroidery is done entirely in french knots, a technique known as saraga nui. I cannot imagine the time, patience, and skill required to do this.

The most special shifuku in my eyes is by far the one with the adorable white rabbit on it. It’s the sole reason I bought the kimono. He’s just so charming and quirky, on what is otherwise a very subdued and mature kimono.