My study of Ikebana

One of the cool new things that has been taking up my time is my study of ikebana, traditional Japanese floral arranging. Ikebana focuses on form, line and shape and often has a minimalist aesthetic. I’ve always loved flowers and blooms and the study of ikebana seemed like a nice compliment to my husband’s interest in bonsai and suiseki.

We tried to take an ikebana lesson when we were in Tokyo but we couldn’t make the timing work. After we got home I decided to see if there was anywhere local I could take lessons. I found the Ichiyo School. Ichiyo is a modern school that has many international branches. Founded in 1937, they are celebrating their 80th anniversary this year.

For my first set of lessons I am working through the Ichiyo basic forms. Here’s my first attempt (with lots of guidance from my instructor) — Moribana Upright Form. Moribana refers to the shallow flat dish or vase used. Flowers are supported by a kenzan, a metal spiked floral frog.

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A couple of weeks and a few lessons later the Atlanta chapter had their annual luncheon and workshop. We had a special presentation on using bamboo in arrangements. We were able to make our own original arrangements using bamboo and other flowers. Since I was so new, rather than trying to freestyle, I did moribana upright form.

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I was very pleased with the arrangement and received many compliments. I also really enjoyed seeing what the other members came up with.

Soon after that I participated in a group exhibition to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Ichiyo school. I was super flattered that my instructor invited me to participate as such a young student. I think they needed a couple more exhibitors honestly but it was still a flattering treat! I was one of two students exhibiting right at the beginning of our studies.

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I ended up doing two smaller displays. The one in the back is Nagiere slanting form. I’d actually never done this form until the exhibition. The nagiere is a narrow vase. You don’t use a kenzan. You get the angles by bending the stems, gravity and lean. It was really frustrating because ever time you move or add something you have the potential to topple everything else. I used quince as my main stems. The other arrangment is a free form using bark from a pecan tree in my front yard and freesia. I’m super proud of these.

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There was a small reception for the exhibition so I took the opportunity to wear one of my vintage kimono. I went for modern kimono hime look versus a super traditional style. My kitsuke wasn’t the best but I’m new at kimono also.

With the big 80th Ichiyo anniversary celebration in Tokyo coming up my instructor will be traveling a lot in April so I won’t have many lessons. After a burst of ikebana activity it will be quiet for a bit. I’m really having fun with this, and flower arranging in general. I practice sometimes just putting stuff in western vases and seeing what I can come with. I love having cut flowers around all the time too!

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