Ikebana: Arrange your Life by Arranging Flowers
Looking for an affordable way to spruce up your home– why not try Ikebana? The Japanese phrase for “arrangement of living material in water,” Ikebana is the ancient Japanese art of flower arrangement that has been around for over five hundred years. Nevertheless, Ikebana remains one of the most distinctive Japanese arts to this day. Not only are there professional schools that are centered on Ikebana, but also it is integrated into Japanese popular culture as it is demonstrated on daily TV. As Chinese Buddhist missionaries first introduced it to Japan, the concept of Ikebana centers on the achievement of finding harmony, beauty, and balance. This art is all about subtlety, and natural beauty that will most definitely give you home a nice change without letting your visitors put a finger on what that change exactly entails. In learning the technique yourself, you can hold onto your wallet and learn how!
The great part about Ikebana is that it isn’t a high art form meant for only a skilled few– it has plenty of room for amateurs. Sure, the creations by highly skilled experts may look a little more professional, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t try. But before you begin, make sure you have all the necessary materials. The first obvious thought is, well what kind of flowers? Since many different plants are traditionally used, you pretty much have free rein when choosing plants. However, you should keep in mind that the main focus of Ikebana is to give prominence to leaves, flowerless branches, and blossoms. Next you need a pair of scissors, some paper towels, and a “Frog.” Though known as a “kenzan” to true Ikebana enthusiasts, it is a small, round metal disk with many sharp spikes coming out of it. The spikes are what you secure your plants into which enables you plant to remain perfectly at gravity-defying angles. In order to secure the Frog into your chosen pot or tray, make sure you also pick up some Florist Puddy. To find these items, be sure to check your local arts & crafts or florist stores.
Even if you go so far as to define yourself as artistically inept, you can still master the fundamental techniques that will make your arrangement downright gorgeous. Whether you are aiming for a classic style or a more contemporary style, the first fundamental technique of Ikebana is to keep the materials fresh. Secondly, allow the materials to be cut easily, and then to support materials in the container. After choosing what kind of plants you are going to use, the first step is to cut the stems, but be sure to cut them underwater as it keeps them fresher for a longer period of time. It is then important that you make sure that your plants, and flowers are clean. Take a few minutes to gently wipe them off with a moist paper towel. Now look for a solid, thick branch that is not as susceptible to breaking, and then define this line by gently bending the branch from the center down to the ends. In addition to trimming the other thinner branches, make sure you trim off any excess leaves. Trimming any excess leaves is especially important where the plant meets the water as this is where there is a lot of bacterial growth.
Now that you are ready to cut the branches and flowers make sure that you are cutting them at the right angle. Whereas you cut the branches diagonally, you will cut the flowers straight across it makes for better stabilization for each. Setting the flowers aside for a minute, make sure you take time to secure the Frog with some of that handy Florist Puddy at the bottom of your tray or pot. Once you get the Frog secure, don’t worry about the angle in which you stick the flowers or branches into it as you can adjust them afterwards– just take precaution as the spikes are super sharp. With the hard part finally done, make sure you adjust the flowers and branches that are pleasing to the eye. But some general rules of thumb are leaning the longest branches or flowers near the top left of the Frog, and then the medium-length branches or flowers toward the bottom left at a sharper angle. For the most flattering angle, make sure you adjust the branches or flowers to the bottom right side. Remember that empty space is a key aspect in Ikebana arrangement, so less is more. Your final task is to take a step back and enjoy the beauty of your Japanese work of art!