Dried bamboo, roses, fabric with gold threads, pine, Christmas balls.
Christmas is getting nearer. As every year my teacher prepared a Christmas themed workshop in her studio to round of the year. This is one of the ikebana arrangements from there. The idea was to use tall Anthurium, but I just couldn't get any. You don't get the same movement with roses but it works in a way. Anyhow I hope it brings some inspiration for your own Christmas ikebana. What is it going to be this year?
Mass arrangement. Gypsophila, red roses, red tinsel, Taxus.
It's a bit early for Christmas ikebana, but I know that many people have started their Christmas preparations and are looking for ideas. Why not try a simple mass arrangement with a lot of snowy feeling to it? If you like you can add a line as a contrast to the mass. In this case I think the room between the vases is enough to create the needed contrast. I also don't want too many materials since that often makes the arrangement less peaceful.
Red, white and green are the Christmas colours also in ikebana. Add a little glitter for a more festive feeling - and there you are! Interestingly enough, Japanese ikebana artists tend to use more sparkle and bling in their Christmas arrangements than Westerners do. Maybe it comes from being more minimalist the rest of the year and needing to let loose for Christmas? Who knows?
I regularly browse YouTube for interesting ikebana related videos. Recently I came across this video documentation of the latest exhibition with the Hong Kong Branch of Sogetsu Teachers' Association. The exhibition was held in November and was titled "After The Typhoon".
It's a quite long amateur video, but it gives you a nice opportunity to explore this great exhibition. I especially like the avant-garde arrangement with tree trunks and branches flying in the storm and the large bamboo construction work. There are several other really nice arrangements too. Which one is your favorite?
When choosing materials for chabana use flowers that "speak to you" in the moment. Put everything aside and be prepared to meet beauty in unexpected places. Then use the opportunity to create something from what you discover.
Chabana, Lythrum salicaria/Purple loosestrife?, Red clover, Marigold.
The glazed pottery vase makes this an semiformal chabana. As you can see I have chosen to use two old wooden planks for dai, instead of the prescribed lacquered board. In many situations such expressions of creativity are appreciated, as long as the change is adding to a harmonious whole.
In chabana no props are used to keep the flowers in place. You can use a stick in the opening of the vase if it's necessary, but absolutely no kenzan. Ideally you visualize the chabana as you pick your flowers in the garden. That way you don't cut any material that you won't need. Then you very quickly trim and arrange them directly in your hand to get a simple and natural look. The flowers are ready to be placed in the vase, and that's it. After they have been placed in the vase they are not to be altered in any way. It sounds simple, but to get a good result you have to practice a lot. It's all in the details and in being in the moment. As in all Japanese art forms the many years of working and practicing is what pays off.
Chabana, or tea flowers, is an integrated element of the Japanese tea ceremony. Chabana is a spontaneous type of flower arrangement, naturalistic and extremely simplistic. It's not even called an arrangement - the ideal is a natural "undesigned" look. On the one hand there are no rules for how to place the flowers. They are presented the way they grow in the nature and in a way that highlights their natural characteristics. On the other hand the chabana must always be in harmony with the tea ceremony as a whole and must therefore follow the season and the occasion of the ceremony.
Maple leaves is a beloved symbol of autumn in Japan. In this chabana I have chosen a single, rather tall branch and displayed it in a traditional metal vase. The idea is to show the natural beauty of the slanting maple branch and its fiery red leaves. Chabana with branches are most often smaller in size, so this is one is somewhat uncommon. Also, when arranging maple leaves the most popular way of showing off the leaves is to group them in a mass to get a strong colour effect.
According to the book "The Art of Chabana: Flowers for the Tea Ceremony" by Henry Mittwer, the vases and boards (dai) that the vases are placed on can be classified by grade of formality in the following way:
Shin: Bronze vases and Chinese or other porcelainware. Lacquered black board with the edges routed in a V-shape. Gyo: Glazed pottery. Lacquered baord wtih the edges tapered to a point. So: Unglazed or semiglazed pottery and basketware. Unfinished cedar or paulownia wood (wet with water to make it appear fresh), or a round board with tapered edge.
All vases should be without decoration. Containers made from bamboo stalk are considered either gyo or so.
Ikebana is the Japanese art of arranging flowers. More than being decorative, ikebana is thought of as a path of life or a kind of meditation.
I'm studying Ikebana with the Sogetsu school, and currently I hold a teachers certificate of Sankyu Shihan (teacher, third grade). My flower name is Senju 泉樹.
This blog is for networking and inspiration. Comments are appreciated. You can also contact me directly.
e-mail: lennart (at) nordiclotus.com
"Ikebana is the art of space - the space between branches, the space between flowers and leaves and the space between masses. In other words, the space between the branches and flowers comes alive. This space is a plentiful void projecting tension and power."
"I regard myself as a creator of shape who uses mainly flowers as his metier, rather than purely as an arranger of flowers."
“Ikebana is a form of sculpture that exists only within a limited time span, transforms from moment to moment, then perishes.”