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!

A Promissory Note for Spring

I am utterly, completely fed up of winter! I am tired of the cold and the snow, and I am tired of this awful ear infection/sinus/flu situation I’ve been fighting off since the beginning of December. I really needed to remind myself that this will come to an end eventually, and spring is on its way.

This kimono always feels good for this time of year, since it’s got multi-seasonal flowers and the colour scheme is pretty subdued, but with the right accessories it can really pop. I got the obi from Lyuba of Strawberry Kimono and I suspect it’s going to be come a fast favourite. I love the bold pattern, and it’s really nice and soft, but textured enough to hold well against itself. I tend to dislike overly soft formal obi because they can also be slippery and don’t hold a nice shape, but the slightly rougher fabric of this and the fact that it feels more casual means it’s great for relaxed, natural-looking obi musubi.

Soft leaf-green accessories helped reinforce the spring vibe of the outfit, and a pink haneri helped to emphasise the pink bits of the outfit. Of course, since I got the obi from Lyuba I had to tie the obiage in a bow shape that always reminds me of her kitsuke.

After the winter-heavy efforts of the 12 Days of Kits-Mas, it felt good to do something more transitional and bright. It was tiring working through being sick to do this, but I’m glad I did!

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!

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.

 

Rebirth and Renewal

I have always tried to keep this blog apolitical. It’s a hobby, a place of beauty fun and a bit of a distraction from the “real” world. However, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that in the modern political climate, remaining detached is essentially an impossibility. This is not to say that I’m suddenly going to change the focus of things here, but I am having a harder and harder time keeping my mouth shut about the state of things. Syria, Brexit, Trump… we are living in a world that is increasingly on the defensive; cold and closed and unwelcoming.

So with that in mind, I needed a subtle reminder that there is always hope in the world, always a chance for rebirth and renewal. I bought this obi along with the hawk obi from my last coordination, and had intended to pair it with my leaf-green iromuji from the get-go. The obidome and obijime were bought at the same time, and seem like the perfect little complement. I’ve always had a soft spot for pearls, and they draw the eye to the silvery buds on the obi that otherwise blend in and nearly disappear. This felt like the perfect time to tie everything together.

The outfit feels as though it’s looking forward to Spring, but also looking forward in general. In a time when everything seems uncertain, at least we know the leaves and grass and first buds of the flowers will be back soon enough. It may not be much, but at least every time I see it I will be reminded that after every hideous, frozen, deathly winter there will inevitably come a spring when everything is reborn.