Birthday Pastels

Today is my birthday! I’m now officially closer to 40 than I am to 30. Ack! My initial plan for today was to dress myself in the blue Cinderella furisode and take pictures, but this week has been a very long and exhausting one and I knew when I woke up I was not going to have the energy to do it. I might try on the weekend, but until then I decided I would at least redo the mannequin.

This obi was an entirely unexpected surprise; I was discussing my collection with a customer at work and she told me she had one of those “belt table runner things” and she’d bring it to show me one day. Imagine my shock when she showed up with this stunning springy green fukuro obi with flowers and foliage all over it and insisted I keep it. It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s also got a really nice sage green fabric with gold pinstripes on the reverse, and I’m looking forward to using that side of it sometime soon. It felt like the ideal thing to do a birthday outfit with. It pairs so perfectly with the pink takara houmongi that Naomi’s husband Arian got for me years ago. They feel so classic and elegant together, and subtle pastel accessories finish things off. The obiage is kind of a mess but let’s all ignore that and focus on the beautiful kimono and obi instead.

I’m still holding out hope that I can put the furisode on this weekend but if that doesn’t happen at least I did something productive today!

Shape and Colour Ikebana

I bought this set of bud vases at everyone’s favourite enormous Scandinavian home goods store a while ago, with the intention of doing something with them, but I hadn’t decided on what. When I found a rose that was a very pale celadon green while out running errands today, I knew I’d found my project. I loved the idea of focusing on shape and colour here, and having three very balanced separate units forming one cohesive and harmonious grouping. I did debate using three different flowers to coordinate with the three different textures of vases, but in the end I felt that using the classic and neutral shape of the roses had the most impact. Thankfully, finding the pink and white ones was a breeze after the stroke of luck that was finding a greenish tinted one (I will be honest, I have no idea if it’s natural or if it was dyed for the florist’s, but either way it worked out quite well for me!) I think the soft, organic roses contrast the tactile and architectural quality of the vases perfectly, and the seeing the three of them together is like hearing three distinct notes coming together in one lovely chord. I arranged them simply on a dark surface to ensure all attention was on them without any background distractions, and I love the way they pop, pop, pop!

Aurora – Disney Princess Kitsuke Project

🎵 Once Upon a Dream🎵

Aurora, the lovely Sleeping Beauty. While she may certainly not be the most progressive of princesses, speaking less than any other princess and spending a large chunk of her movie unconscious, there’s no denying that as one of the original three she helped pave the way for what came after. I was initially quite stumped on how to coordinate her outfit, since we don’t really get a huge sense of her personality from the movie. Pink seemed obvious, but then I thought back fondly to the scene where the fairies are arguing over the colour of her dress. When I found this beautiful pink kimono with blue accents, everything fell into place.

I paired up the pink kimono with this beautiful white and platinum obi with tiny pink details. The design is of an abstract flower motif but with a little imagination, the round shapes are reminiscent of the spinning wheel upon which she pricks her finger, bringing Maleficent’s curse to fruition. Since Aurora seems like a fairly traditional, demure, romantic woman I decided to keep this coordination fairly straightforward too, sticking to appropriate accessories and tying the obi in a nice, stiff niijudaiko obi.

I hope you’re enjoying seeing these coordinations as much as I’m enjoying doing them! We’re more than a third of the way through, and I can’t wait to share more soon.

Lush Peony Ikebana

It’s been incredibly hot and muggy and rainy out here lately. While it’s not particularly fun for me it’s been fantastic for the garden! I managed to catch this vivid pink peony at the ideal time; it’s blousy and open without a hint of decay on it yet. I knew I wanted to balance it out with some foliage, and decided to keep it all to things I could get from the garden. The hosta leaves provide a sense of grounding, and the little white flowers feel sweet and fresh. I will be honest, I don’t know what they are. The vessel is one I found at a thrift shop a few weeks back, and felt cool and refreshing, perfect for a heady, humid arrangement.

Rough Magnolia Ikebana

As I’ve progressed along this journey I’ve focused on the shin, soe, and hikae of a fairly straightforward moribana-style arrangement, and the low natural shapes and textures of a rougher natural arrangement. For this one, I wanted to focus on the concept of “unbalanced balance”, weighting something off-centre while still evoking a feeling of pleasant balance.

Magnolias are one of my favourite flowers. Honestly, I’ve never met a flowering tree I didn’t love. Magnolia, dogwood, cherry, plum, forsythia, lilac – you name it. If it blossoms on branches it’s more than fine with me! The magnolias in this arrangement were taken (with permission!) from a huge tree in the front court of my local library. They did look at me a little strangely when I asked, but we have to make sacrifices for our art, right?

I wanted to emphasise the raw, natural forms of the branches and the visual repetition of the blossoms, so I chose a fairly simple but interestingly textured little glass vase. I then coaxed the branches into shape slightly, but I preferred to work with them rather than against them, and let their curves and lines guide me. I actually arranged this and let it “settle” for a day before taking the photos, both to encourage the blooms to open slightly and to ensure that the branches were in a natural and pleasing shape. The fact that they ended up looking vaguely fan-shaped was an unintentional but happy occurrence. I placed them on the mantel, leaning towards the window as if to soak up the warm spring sun and they look quite at home here. Overall, I think this was a  fairly successful arrangement. I’m not entirely sure I got the balance ideal, but I will continue to practice and read and learn as I go.