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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Fudangi First Friday – Funky Punk Yukata

We’ve got a true first for this month’s Fudangi First Friday – I’ve actually never put a yukata on the mannequin until now! This coordination is actually something I had set out to wear to an event. On Wednesday, the lovely folks at Kimono Vintage Montreal organised an outing in yukata to the Montreal Jazz Festival, and what better place to wear something funky and non-traditional?

Unfortunately, the whole province was in the middle of a lethal heat wave (which has thankfully broken now).  Even when I was younger I never handled the heat well, and my chronic health problems only exacerbate the issue. I decided to be prudent and stay home, and thought it would be a good opportunity to feature the outfit on Friday instead.

I love this yukata so much, and I’ve worn it out to a street festival before. It’s got a really unusual pattern of flames, skulls, handcuffs and snakes, amongst other things. The obi came with it and from a distance looks like it’s just got butterflies on it, but up close you can see that there are skulls in their wings. It seemed like the perfect thing to wear to a big outdoor music festival.

Rather than fight against my figure and try to bind my chest in this heat, I’d already decided to use a coordinating cotton tank top underneath and wear the yukata in a loose, open fashion. I stuck with that choice on the mannequin, as well as hiking the hem up shorter than standard, and I love how it looks! I was also inspired by Nichole and her epic kimono style to use a belt in lieu of obijime, and I really love how it all looks together. I think I will make a point of finding somewhere to wear it out like this, because it seems a shame not to!

Items used in this coordination

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!

O-Hanami & Taiko at the Montreal Botanical Gardens

On Sunday, a few members of the Montreal kimono club got together at the Montreal Botanical Gardens to have our own little O-hanami. The climate here isn’t ideal for sakura, but we’ve got lots of crabapples which look almost as lovely and are almost as transient and ethereal.

I had a blast. We met lots of awesome people, posed for a bunch of photos, and generally had a great time. Although it was slightly marred by me tripping at one point and pulling the hanao out of my zori. I spent the bulk of the day walking in tiny awkward steps, gripping my shoe with my toes to prevent falling off. Eventually I just gave up and walked around in my tabi, since they’d gotten dirty when I tripped initially. A bit gauche, I know, but better than spraining something. Especially since I’m still recovering from falling down the stairs a few weeks back.

This post is going to be incredibly image-heavy, because everything was lovely and also we’re a bunch of silly people who like to ham things up. Click through for kimono, taiko drumming, and a lovely ikebana show!

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Kannon Ikebana

This ceramic figure of Kannon (観音,  Guanyin, Kwan Yin, more) belonged to my grandmother, who I’ve mentioned on this blog many times before. She was always an inspiration to me. I’ve never been a spiritual person of any ilk, but I can’t help admire and respect the bodhisattva of mercy and compassion. My grandmother and father always referred to her as Guanyin, which is her Chinese name. The Japanese refer to her as Kannon, so for the purposes of a Japanese-inspired arrangement that’s what I stuck with today.

A while back, Naomi sent me some great little vintage floral books, including one published by Coca-Cola, of all things. In it was a very pretty arrangement using a nearly-identical figure of her, so I knew I was determined to create one of my own at some point. My first thought was peonies, but I found these plush chrysanthemums and felt that I had to use them. The small pink ranunculus add a little touch of colour and the small rounded shape of them combined with the large ruffled kiku are reminiscent of peonies in the end, I think! To balance the soft organic qualities of both the flowers and the statuette I arranged them in repeating triangles, and then I anchored the whole piece in a shallow white vessel that also belonged to my grandmother to bring it all full circle.

Something I’ve had floating around in my head for months always has the possibility of going very awry and not turning out how I’d envisioned it. That would have been frustrating on a normal day, but while still dealing with a concussion it would likely have pushed me over the edge and resulted in a rather epic sulk.Thankfully, that was not the case this time. I’m really happy with how it pulled together.