Monday 28 February 2011

Playing with Vases

Tubular ceramic vase with tilted top.
Isolation materials, green Carnations and an Aspidistra leaf.

One thing that fascinates me in Japanese flower arranging is the attention that is given to the vase or container. There always has to be a harmony between the vase and the plant materials, but this is more than just finding a vase that looks good with a flower bouquet. The container is considered an important and integrated part of the arrangement, or even the starting point of the arranging and the first thing to look at when standing in front of the completed ikebana.

Boat shaped porcelain container.
Aspidistra leaves and blue Hyacinths.

These two ikebana arrangements are exercises in focusing on the shape of the container as the starting point when creating. It doesn't have to be a very special container. Every vase has it's own character, shape and texture.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Inspired Fingerworks

Have a look at this new video from the Japanese group Utsurawa-ba. So-sen Imai creates sophisticated simplified ikebana arrangements in dark glazed ceramics by Taketoshi Ito. Music is by Koyu.

I love the fingerwork capturing the inspiration before getting started, and the contrast between the weightless small white flowers and the compact ceramic vase.

Iemoto Akane Teshigahara 10 Year Celebration

This year the present iemoto of the Sogetsu School of ikebana is celebrating her 10 years as headmaster. Akane Teshigahara is the granddaughter of Sofu Teshigahara who founded the school. In 2001 she succeeded her father as headmaster.

The first exhibition marking the celebration has already taken place, but there will be several more events throughout the year. The official Sogetsu website has a blog section with updates from Akane Teshigahara, called "A bunch of thoughts", where you can follow her celebration year.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

A Hint of Spring

Window display: A Hint of Spring
cellophane rolls, two wooden containers, old hemp string,
blue Hyacinths, yellow Roses and green Carnations

Frozen layers of winter are still covering spring. It's all silent and cold - but not for long. Life is coming back!

Monday 14 February 2011

eBay Iemoto Class

The Sogetsu School was started a little more then 80 years ago and have since then had four iemotos (head masters), all from the same family. The iemoto is leading the organization of the school and is also responsible for the artistic development - so it's a complex and difficult task. 

If you are lucky to be in the right place at the right time you can take ikebana classes, referred to as iemoto classes, held by the present iemoto. My favorite iemoto is the late Hiroshi Teshigahara, who died in 2001. I started my ikebana studies in 2005 so I have never had the chance to experience him in person. Still, I feel that I know him from books and from his legacy that is still highly treasured by many ikebana teachers and students.

A few weeks ago when I opened my mail box I found an envelop with a preowned card book that I had bought on eBay. A card book is a paper back book that can be taken apart, so that the thick pages can be used individually as studying cards. This particular card book is quite rare and consists of 20 cards with photos of ikebana arrangements by Hiroshi Teshigahara. On the back of the cards the arrangements are explained. I felt so privileged to be able to follow this "iemoto class" card by card in my own pace. Reading this book I really am in the right place at the right time.

by Hiroshi Teshigahara
Paperback, 20 colour cards
Diane Pub Co, 1986
ISBN-10: 0756750849
ISBN-13: 978-0756750848

Saturday 12 February 2011

Born in a Broken Heart

"Ikebana is an organic training in gentleness...
Flowers are vulnerable - that is their strength."

In this thoughtful short film, "Born in a broken heart: A smile mixed with tears", ikebana teacher Stéphane Bédard is discussing the role of a teacher and how ikebana practice can give a more direct relationship to art and to our life. He also gives an interesting introduction to a philosophy of gentleness and fearlessness. It really is worth seeing if you would like to understand more about ikebana. Being an ikebana practitioner I feel that this video deepens my appreciation of the way of flowers.

Stéphane Bédard is trained in the Sogetsu School of ikebana and he also teaches the Shambhala art program. You'll find two more videos with Bédard on the website of Shambhala art in the Resources section, Media Library. It's the two videos from Shambhala art Ottawa.

Friday 11 February 2011

Flowers for Valentine's Day

"Spring Cleaning" - unconventional materials
Dusters, branches, pink roses and table wiper hearts,
in two wooden containers.

Using unconventional materials was one of the new ideas in ikebana introduced by Sofu Teshigahara, the founder of the Sogetsu school. The underlaying idea was that ikebana is mainly about form, lines, colour and space, and that ikebana can be made by anyone, anywhere and with any materials. Using objects from everyday life helps develop your creativity and also grounds your ikebana practice in life "as-it-is".

"A Secret Sign" - surfaces of lines and leaves
Dried bamboo/some black painted, pink rose and Aspidistra leaf,
in a wooden box with a sign.

When creating ikebana for Valentine's day I have focused on the unexpected love message that brakes through the repetitiveness of continuing everyday work, a secret message that is at the same time hidden and visible.

I have no idea what the sign on the wooden box means. I've used it as an abstract pattern with a hidden message. Still - if you now the true meaning I'll be glad if you let me know.

Thursday 10 February 2011

Knitting a Vase

The young ceramicist Laurence Laurent is knitting the structure of her creations before painting them with several thin layers
of white porcelain. The knitting yarn burns away in the firing process leaving an interesting pattern in the fragile vases.

Last month Laurent exhibited her vases and objects in the well known ceramic centre Vallauris-Golfe-Juan in South of France. My local friends took me there on an exhibition tour that I will not forget. I love the way the light passes through the porcelain and the familiar knitted pattern.

"Today Laurence Laurent has found her way, her mode of expression and continues her journey", the exhibiton organizer says. Let's hope we'll see more knitting porcelain from Laurence Laurent.

Photo © Svein G. Josefsen

Tuesday 8 February 2011


"A process of making is the point of it. This needs to be a kind of ballet."

This clip is the official trailer for the documentary "Between the Folds". It is not about ikebana, but it's fascinating and origami is also a Japanese art form.

I found this video on the Collage Diva blog. Thanks Kathryn for sharing!

Monday 7 February 2011

The First Day of Spring

Spring branches and a pink rose in an icy glass container.

It's snowing again - this really is a country made for winter ikebana with naked branches. Even so, today I'm posting an early spring arrangement, in honor of the Japanese first day of spring "Risshun" that was February 4th. Slightly curved lines signalizing that nature is coming back to life, and a pink rose to remind us of the first blossoming branches in the snow - I can't wait.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Utsurawa-ba Again

Ikebana artist So-sen have posted some inspiring pictures from the January Utsurawa-ba event. This month features contemporary Japanese ceramics by Katsumura Akito. I find the simplicity and balance of these small size ikebana arrangements very to the point. The ceramics is beautiful too and reminds me that i should make a post about the relation between Japanese and Scandinavian ceramics - it will be on the blog soon so please come back if you'd like to read it.

Have a look at the Utsurawa-ba pictures on this page.
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