ikebana and life in japan

a blog about ikebana and life in japan


Spring Ikebana Exhibit -- scouring rush in a cool summer breeze

Recently, I have been very interested in zokei ikebana. Being able to create a totally unique and creative work is exciting to me. Trying to find new materials to work with, show a material in a new way, or creating an expressive work are what I most enjoy when creating a zokei arrangement.

This year, for the spring exhibit, I wanted to use just one material, to really showcase the beauty of it. I chose scouring rush. They are often found near the waters edge of a lake, stream, or river, but can also be found in moist, dense forests. They can grow to be quite tall, and when a cool summer breeze hits them, they bend playfully in the wind.

I went to the local hardware store/DIY center to look for something I could use as a base for the piece. I chose a plastic fencing material in a black color. I thought the black would go well with the green of the scouring rush, but it could also be painted if I wanted to change the color or finish (I was thinking a metal finish would also be interesting). The mesh of the fence was also the perfect size for each frond of the rush to fit into. I used some black zip ties to hold the fencing together and made a tall column. I had my base for the piece.

I played with the fronds for several hours, trying different ways of arranging them in the mesh. Some were very planned out, and others were more organic. "Playing" with the materials is an important step in creating a zokei work; it enables you to find the best way to show off the natural beauty of the material in a new and interesting manner. I finally chose on a combination of planned and organic. I arranged the fronds along one line of the fencing, extending out to the right, but the angles and length of the scouring rush were arranged in an organic way, making them look as if they were being blown in the wind.

scouring rush

slightly from the left

looking into the fronds, from the right

Can you feel the cool summer breeze?

Let me know what you think of the piece in the comment section below!


Mother's Day Flowers

It has been over 15 years since I have had the pleasure to wish my mom a "Happy Mother's Day" in person.

I always call to wish her well on Mother's Day, but it just isn't the same -- being able to give her a big hug and see her smile. I know she feels the same way. I usually get on the Internet and try to find something interesting to send her. This year, I couldn't find anything that I thought she would like. I got a card in the mail to her, but I didn't send a gift.

Instead, I thought I would make an arrangement for her. Ideally, I would love to make it for her in person, but being across the ocean on the other side of the earth makes that a bit difficult!

I chose her favorite color, yellow, as the base of the arrangement, and mixed in a little orange and red -- all happy, vibrant, strong colors, just like my mom. I also added a couple of white anthurium thinking they would like nice in the mix of colors. Of course, I also had to mix in some green to give it a fresh feeling.

I know that she will love it, and immediately download the picture to use as her screen saver. She can enjoy the arrangement for weeks to come, which is just what I wanted!

It was such a beautiful day that I decided to take a few pictures outside.

Happy Mother's Day to an amazing woman who inspires everyone around her with her strength and love for family and friends! You inspire me to be a better person, and I am thankful and proud to be your son.