Silk Peony Ikebana

Last year, I made an origami ikebana arrangement as a gift for a friend. This year, I wanted to make something for my aunt that would coordinate with her decor and last a long time.

Everything here came from Michaels. I started with the gorgeous, bold red peony that I knew would be the focal point of the whole arrangement. Typically I’m not a huge fan of faux greenery, but these monstera leaves had way more substance and punch than most fake foliage, and since real monstera leaves are quite shiny and waxy anyway, these look much more realistic than most. All I needed after that was a something with height and airiness to balance the earthy, heavy quality of the flower and leaves. My father actually found these very thin branches with pretty silver beads on them that work as the perfect finishing touch.

Of course, I needed some sort of vessel, and I spent a fair bit of time rummaging around in a few different aisles until I found this one and fell in love with it. It’s an almost-perfect match for my aunt’s wall colours so I knew it would coordinate well and while it’s simple enough not to compete with the flower, the bit of texture makes it very earthy and interesting.

Typically, ikebana needs to be done with live, fresh, seasonal flowers. However, there are always acceptable reasons to deviate from the norm. Overall, I think for a silk flower arrangement this was very successful. And my aunt seemed to like it, which is the important part!

Autumn Rose Ikebana

I finally had the time and money to stop by the florist’s today to see if anything inspired me. After a bit of browsing I came across these gorgeous miniature roses that reminded me of autumn foliage. It’s actually been snowy here for nearly a week already, but I’m determined to ignore that for as long as possible, and I thought they’d make a beautiful farewell to the season.

Alex, the kind and friendly owner of the florist shop, suggested the stem of large, shiny green leaves as some contrast foliage, and they look great. I’ve sadly forgotten what they’re called. I also wanted to practice forcing a curve in a stem without breaking it, and I think I’ve finally got the hang of it! The branch was originally perfectly straight, but I managed to get a nice, natural-looking curve to frame out the roses perfectly. It was feeling a little bit empty so I picked up some of this fluffy yellow plant at the flower counter in the pharmacy to fill it in a little bit, and it feels much more balanced now.

I’ve missed practicing my ikebana, and I feel like things generally weren’t flowing as well as they used to because I was rusty. But this turned out very much how I’d envisioned it, and I think it features the flowers perfectly, so I’m quite happy.

Fukiyose Ikebana

Fukiyose (吹き寄せ) is an autumn motif comprised of wind-blown foliage, pine needles, and other vegetal vestiges. From the very beginning of my ikebana journey, I’ve known I wanted to attempt an arrangement based on fukiyose. Unfortunately, Japanese maples are exclusively a prized and well-guarded ornamental plant here, so it’s not as though I had easy access to one, and it felt vital to the composition.

However, my aunt now has one in her garden and was kind enough to allow me to liberate a small branch. Once I had that in hand, getting the other bits was much easier. The neighbourhood where I live has planted ornamental ginkgo trees in a lot of public areas, and I’ve been assured in the past that so long as I’m careful and respectful of the plants I’m welcome to harvest a branch or two. So I grabbed a couple of those on the way home, and then used some of the pine boughs from a tree in our yard.

I have to admit, arranging branches in a way that looks natural but still intentional and aesthetically pleasing is more difficult than I’d anticipated! It’s hard finding that perfect space between “unruly and messy” and “overly forced”, and I’m honestly not sure I accomplished it as well as I’d like. But I’d been dying to do this arrangement for so long, and didn’t have easy access to different maple branches, that I wasn’t going to give up. A few leaves fell while I was arranging them but I think it adds to the wind-blown feel so I left them there, and it helped with the balance. There’s a good circular fluid motion to the whole composition, so it feels finished and cohesive to me, at the very least.

This may not be my favourite ikebana ever but I persevered and got it done, and I am proud of that. I do know that lately I haven’t been posting as many ikebana arrangements as I used to, but unfortunately my access to blooms from the great outdoors is over for the season, and I’m in a situation where my budget for things like fresh-cut flowers is basically zero for now. But there will be more whenever I can splurge a little!

Elemental Basics Ikebana

A very clean and modern arrangement for today. My initial plan was for a few flowers anchored in a fair bit of water, but then I found this beautiful dense white mum that I knew would fit perfectly in this glass cube.

The stone at the bottom helps ground everything but makes sure the focus remains on the bloom. I really like how uncluttered the whole piece is, and I realised as I was assembling it that I had nods to all the elements working in tandem. The water is self-evident, and the stone clearly echoes the earth. The glass is transformed by fire, and the flower is balanced between water and air. I don’t normally post so many photos but this arrangement looked neat and unique from different angles, and I couldn’t resist it.

As this is the last weekend of the month, August’s #monokimono outfit should have gone up today but I’ve had rather a long week, I’m having a bad pain day, and I don’t have the energy to wrestle with the mannequin. It will be posted tomorrow!

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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