Hello Janine
The art of Ikebana
The art of Ikebana

The art of Ikebana

Less can be so much more


Flowers have the ability to lift your mood, add a graceful presence to your home and even change the entire perspective of space as it is. Flower arranging is the use of emptiness, with dual principles of motion and stillness to create an arrangement filled with individual freshness, deep emotion and skill. It is also the power to transform a flower's momentary spark into an artistic creation. 

 While living in Japan, I discovered the art of IKEBANA flower arranging. It originated in Kyoto, dating back to the sixth century. The word comes from IKERU : living or to keep alive and BANA or HANA: flowers. It is the art of seeing beyond the flower, an exercise of sadness and joy, side by side, vital components of their fleeting nature. It is a sacred act which is the essence of Ikebana, derived from Shinto tradition and the Buddhist concept whereby the elements of the divine can be found everywhere in nature or "animistic polytheism", a spirit found in wind, earth, as well as every stone, tree or flower. The sparse beauty of the arrangements symbolize the view that the whole universe is contained within a single flower. The arrangement should deepen the awareness of the seasons, their transience and evanescence. It should bring on the ability to see beyond the flower and bring a moment of reflection on nature itself.

There are many forms of Ikebana that exist today. I studied Sogetsu style, a more free school of following established forms. Sofu Teshigahara founded the Sogetsu School in 1927, teaching Ikebana as a creative art, using any material. The basic principles of placement still apply. Using a container, the three main elements or flowers are placed . One at a 15° angle. It is called Hikae (meant to symbolize earth). The second, Shin (to symbolize Heaven), at a 45° angle. The third is Soe (to symbolize Man/Human) at a 75° angle. From those 3 placements, one can fill the space creatively all while respecting the order of 3 placement angles. There is no particular order of direction: it can be back to front or vice versa. 

The advantage of doing these simple arrangements is you don't have to buy a lot of flowers, which is sometimes necessary for western style bouquets. It makes you tap into your creative and imaginative side, step back and look at it with new perspective for each addition. I am only able to delve into an arrangement if I can eliminate all distractions, conversations and be alone with my thoughts. My ideas stem from the choice of container first, the subsequent purchase of what I decide to fill them with next and the time looking at the display of stems, flowers and whatever other material before beginning to cut or arrange. It helps to sketch out your ideas first if you can. Once you have made a cut, you cannot bring the length back but there are many ways to "cheat". You can find available, in any flower district, tools that can assist with placement, stability and even elongate if need be. From foam to give height in your container, to flower wire for placement and stability, there are unlimited tools for the trade. Most of the time though, you should not have to resort to them if you are careful. Here are some very simple examples of mine, which I am happy to share with you.




 Here is a step by step method, for you to create your very own arrangement:


A tall container is best suited. Add some "chicken wire" (available at floral suppply shops or online) at the opening of the vase. 

You will need 2 ranunculus, 2 (branch) viburnum, 4 strands zebra grass and 1 monstera leaf. Lay them out on the table next to the container.




Start with the flowers. Set the tallest at a 15° angle, then cut the next flower and place it at a 45° angle, in whichever direction you like.


Next, place the viburnum. Try not to cut it down too much, as you will probably want to switch it around a bit.


Then add the Monstera, a variety of palm leaf. Hang it to the side, it will be the 75° angle you need. 


 The zebra grass simply enhances the movement of the design. You can bend the strands in a "loop" shape using thin floral wire. Try to place the grass to define the shape, it should underscore your design, not take it over. 

Here is the finished bouquet! 

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have or lets hear your ideas to contribute!  

click here to see the photos
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Hello Janine