Sho-Chiku-Bai Serendipity

As some of you may know, I’ve been wanting to do a sho-chiku-bai (歳寒三友. Three Friends of Winter) pretty much since I started learning and practicing ikebana. Unfortunately, plum branches are very difficult to find around here. They’re finicky, they’re expensive, they’re fragile, and most florists just don’t bother stocking them. So I shelved my plans and moved along.

Last week, my favourite local florist posted some photos of some, so of course I made a beeline for the shop. Unfortunately, they were put aside for a big contract project, but the owner said he’d keep any leftovers for me.

Today I made a detour to the walk-in clinic (nothing serious, just a weirdly swollen painful toe), but frustratingly, they weren’t accepting walk-ins anymore. However, the clinic is right next to the florist so I figured I’d duck in just to see. Lo and behold, he had a container full of freshly budding branches on the counter. It was meant to be! My trip to the clinic may have been a gigantic waste of time, but at least the trip wasn’t. I chose the one with the most appealing curve to it, and then three branches of lucky “bamboo” (it’s actually a variety of dracaena, but close enough…) to balance things out. I knew I could get pine branches from the park near my house. Funnily enough, when I got to the park, there was one large, perfect branch lying right in the middle of the path. I didn’t even need to cut anything, it was like it was waiting for me. Truly serendipitous!

The only thing that didn’t just click right into place was the actual photo, sadly. The lighting just wasn’t working out in this nook, and the arrangement is too big to fit unobstructed anywhere else. I might try again tomorrow before work, while the sun is higher. If it works out, I will update the picture. *Photo updated 02/23/2019

Mature Elegance

Isn’t it funny how the older I get, the more my tastes gravitate to the bright and youthful? I’m turning 37 tomorrow and somehow I keep finding myself accumulating boldly coloured furisode and things. When I was younger, I was drawn to more shibui styles, and now I guess I’m making up for lost time?

This gorgeous bamboo houmongi is a lovely exception, I think. It’s yet another of my purchases from the kimono bazaar last month and I thought it lent itself quite well to a more elegant coordination that would still allow me to express myself through pattern and colour. The bamboo leaves are in a lovely range of blues, reds, oranges, and purples, which gave me a lot of selection to work with.

My navy and gold tiger’s eye tsuke-obi is making yet another appearance here. For a silly impulse purchase I made, it’s turning out to be one of my most weirdly versatile and beloved items. It tied in very well with the kimono, and I decided to pull out the warm maroon for the rest of the accessories. The beautiful obidome from Pinto Pony Productions worked well against the ivory backdrop here too, rotated onto its side for a little more drama.

This definitely feels like a more traditional and elegant sort of outfit, appropriate for a woman my age. But it’s not boring or quiet, it’s still got some lovely impact and personality, which is exactly what I was aiming for!

Items used in this coordination

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!

Two recent komon – meisen and BUNNIES!

My track record of “adopting” things from other folks once again rears its head today. Both of these were inherited from prior owners.

Sythetic hitoe with BUNNIES!
Bunny Hitoe Komon

Bunny Hitoe Komon

I’m sorry, I’m just far too excited by this piece. It’s just so cute! Jaclyn bought it and another komon with bunnies at the same time, and decided that the other one was more to her liking. I’d mentioned how cute I found this one, and she knows how difficult it is for me to find kimono that fit me well, so here it is! This thing is a whopping 171cm/68″ long, and 140cm/55″ wide. It’s enormous, and the only kimono I own that fits me properly. It’s unlined but not summer weave, so I should be able to get a fair bit of wear out of it in this climate.

Purple geometric meisen komon
Purple Geometric Meisen Komon

Purple Geometric Meisen Komon

Naomi got this in a large bundle, and kindly gave it to me when I was down there visiting a while ago. It’s just about long enough for me to fudge a tiny ohashori out of, and if need be I can wear it without one due to how casual it is. The colour is so rich and lush.