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!

Day lily Ikebana

The Japanese concept of mono no aware (物の哀れ), or the sense of beauty that comes from the awareness of the transience of all things, is most often exemplified by the beautiful but short-lived cherry blossom season. However, while I was going through our garden looking for inspiration recently, it struck me that these gorgeous fire-like day lily blooms are another flower that is perfectly suited the concept, having as short and vivid a lifespan as they do.

I wanted to balance the modern, sharp, nearly abstract shapes of the lilies with something much softer and more delicate, and the gentle sweeping lines of our grapevine seemed like the perfect contrast. I then chose a very organic and vintage-feeling container and paired it in turn with a clean-lined and almost harsh pedestal. I aimed to create an arrangement that seemed as timeless as it was fleeting, things with a sense of age framed against things that have existed only for a moment. I love how they come together to form both visual and emotional balance, something I am working on as I continue my journey into ikebana.

Fresh Green Ikebana

The rainy season is here, so of course it’s time for a lush ajisai (hydrangea) ikebana.

I actually did this one while I was in California last month; I’d had the bamboo-shaped vessel mailed to my friend there to save on shipping costs. I actually found the hydrangea while we were grocery shopping. I loved the refreshing pale green colour and the dense texture of the blooms, and thought they would be an excellent contrast to the stark white of the vase. I stuck to one plant material for this one to emphasise texture, contrast, and simplicity. It feels well-balanced and evokes a cool feeling to counter-act the summer heat and humidity. I do like the restraint of one type of plant material and suspect I will do more arrangements focusing on one type flower at a time.

However, I’m not sure this was as successful as I’d like it to have been because from a distance I think it looks like a bunch of cauliflower! I will have to try something different with this vase in the future.

Architectural Ikebana

Most of the arrangements I’ve done so far have been fairly loose and natural in feeling, working with the shape of the flowers instead of forcing them. I really wanted to try something more sculptural and geometric and work with straight lines and the very linear quality of lucky bamboo (which isn’t really bamboo) seemed like an excellent starting point. While I was at the florist’s I saw these gorgeous miniature purple calla lilies and I knew I’d found the perfect counterpart for the bamboo.

I focused on the diagonal lines to draw the eye from the top of the arrangement to the bottom. Initially I’d just wrapped the vase in the faux banana leaf but the colour balance felt off. I found this ribbon while packing for vacation; it’s actually the belt from a dress I have. The mauve was a perfect match for the calla lilies, and it really helps to anchor the whole arrangement and make it feel much more balanced. Overall, this one turned out very close to what I’d initially had in mind, and I’m very happy with it!

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.