Friday, 7 December 2018


Hello all,

Vicky Kalokathis, my little sister and my very first student has embarked on a new venture. She has launched her fashion label, Love Kiki.

Vicky has been making clothes for herself for many years and was constantly complemented and asked from where she got them. This was the impetus to start her line. Her clothes are smart and comfortable and  very easy care. Made from versatile and forgiving jersey, they are great for travel and can be worn casually or dressed up. I'm extremely proud of what my little sister has achieved and I wish her great success. I have included just a small number of her pieces but if you'd like to see more click on Love Kiki.

And now for something completely different. My ikebana colleague, Robyn Unglik, put on an exhibition of Ikebana in metal containers that were made for her by her husband, Harry Unglik and their friend, Marcel Mittelman. These two, very creative artists met some years ago and realized that their families originated from the same small town in Poland. They share a studio/gallery, which they call 'Landsman', a Yiddish word which means 'Coming from the same area'.

In late October they, together with Robyn, put on an exhibition of their works, which I was fortunate to go and see. I was quite impressed, not only by the quality and artistry of the work but, also, by the variety of mediums. Harry is a GP by profession and, when he is not working at the practice, he is at the studio. Marcel started out in jeans manufacture. In those days he had imported machinery for his business from overseas, for which there were no mechanics to service them. Marcel had to learn how to do that himself, which led him to engineering and, later to sculpture.

Robyn's Arrangements -

Sculptures by Marcel Mittelman -

Works by Harry Unglik -

This is a very talented and creative family. Robyn's mother, Helen Novic, has been an ikebanist since before I started. She is now in her nineties but you wouldn't think so to look at her and the quality of her work has not diminished due to age. It is still interesting and modern.

Bye for now,

Friday, 23 November 2018

Hello all,
Above is the photograph of a New Year arrangement I made for the last Ikebana International meeting for the year. I had, actually, prepared a much larger and more involved arrangement for this occasion, however, it would have been difficult to pack into the car and carry all the materials to the venue. So I quickly put together this simple arrangement using two of my favourite containers, sprayed strelitzia reginae leaves and 'Mr Lincoln' roses. For more photographs from our meeting please go II Melbourne.

Below is the original arrangement. The branch material is from the date palm after the fruit have fallen. The leaves were still attached, so I covered them with paper whilst praying the branches silver, then covered the branches whilst spraying the leaves gold. I used pine, ornithogalum and hippeastrum. The container is an asymmetric lacquered suiban, which Lucy brought back for me from Vietnam.

You may remember  on a previous post that I mentioned the Box Hill Floral Art exhibition. My student, Nicole McDonald is a member of the group and took part in the 'Glass with Class' competition. I'm very proud to announce that she won first prize. Below is a photograph of her piece. She used weeping willow and strelitzia reginae.

And now for class.

Shaneen's piece, below, is of the theme 'Emphasizing Straight Lines' and she made it in her self made ceramic container

Bull rushes and green Goddess lilies

Close-up of the container. . Shaneen used crushed glass in the
depression but is not visible

At a recent class I wanted to challenge the advanced students so I provided containers for each one that they had not used before and three different materials, at least one of which they had not used before. I, also, wanted to be challenged, so I asked Lucy to pick a container and materials for me to use.

 Lucy chose Japanese maple, New Zealand flax and a succulent,
the name of which I don't know. The container is one I made
at the Sogetsu kiln

This is how I arranged the quite disparate materials. And, yes
it was challenging!
Nicole used Japanese maple, spuria iris and aspidistra leaves
in one of my self made containers
Vicky used mahonia, spuria iris and euphorbia

Bredenia used stripped fern, leaves and flower of what I
think is curculigo and roses

Lucy used gymea leaves, green Goddess lilies and yucca
flower stem

Strelitzia reginae and variegated

Two views of the same arrangement.
I think it works well as an example of an
arrangement to be viewed from all sides

I made this next arrangement because I had a number of these Siberian iris flowers which are very short lived but which I love for their vivid blue colour. I used the citrus yellow container for contrast.

Bye for now,

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Weeping willow, tall bearded iris, helleborus and Japanese maple

Hello all,
Every spring I like to make this type of 'pond arrangement'. I mainly use this suiban that I made many years ago, on the bottom of which, I laid crushed coloured glass, which melted during firing. The result is a water-like surface, well suited to  this type of arrangement.

I've included a close-up of the stunningly beautiful, tall bearded iris that I used here. The rhizome was given to me by my student, Shaneen Garbutt but she doesn't know its name. I consulted my Irises book and it looks like it might be 'Houdini'. If anyone knows otherwise, please let me know.

Close-up of the bottom of the suiban

Another spring arrangement using my much-prized vases, which were a gift from my daughter and son-in-law.
Japanese maple, roses, euphorbia characias, tall bearded iris and ornithogalum
The foliage of Japanese maple is usually so dense that we have to thin it out considerably to lighten it and to reveal the stems and to create space. For the above arrangement I removed as much material as I had left on the branches. See below

We had considerable frost damage in our garden this year and one of the casualties was my monstera deliciosa. Once the danger of further frosts was over, I gave it a very hard pruning. Much of the material went into the compost bin but a number of interesting cuttings simply could not be discarded. Hence the arrangements below.

Both arrangements lasted for more than two weeks despite the fact that their stems were not in water. However, the fruit started to peel away and become messy, so had to go. According to a You Tube video, this fruit (also known as Fruit Salad Fruit) is edible but only where the outer skin has peeled away by itself. If you try to hasten the peeling process and eat the underneath you might regret it. I have many of them growing, so I will put it to the test and let you know.

In my last post I included a photograph of an arrangement using three strelitsia nicolai flowers. These are quite striking but the white petals are fragile and brown easily. In contrast the dark 'casing', if I can call it that, is very strong, making it physically quite difficult to ease out the delicate and fragile new petals from inside these tough exteriors.

Also, the weight of the flowers caused them to droop downwards after a while, so, after removing all dead material and dividing the flowers, I re-arrangement them into two new arrangements.

Original arrangement

Finally, I leave you with this cheeky little arrangement. The ornithogalum had this interesting stem and required nothing more that a container in which to display it. I bought this little ceramic container in Athens in 1988, long before I started learning ikebana in 1991.

Bye for now,

Sunday, 28 October 2018

This arrangement of viburnum opulus is over a metre tall and wide. It addresses three
different themes - 'Using only one kind of material', 'Mass and lines' and
 'Floor Position Arrangement'
My strelitzia nicolai has many flowers but, unfortunately, they are too high to reach.
These three were cut for me by my husband who climbed to the very top of the
ladder to reach them. The vine is wisteria with the leaves stripped off.

Hello all,

I am, currently, enjoying (or suffering) the embarrassment of riches. With spring, the plants in my garden seem to be trying to outdo each other and I have more materials than time or containers to arrange them all. I know that this will not elicit much sympathy for me from those of you with small or no gardens, but, in fact it puts pressure on me to arrange as many as possible. Mainly because I can't bear to let some of these gorgeous seasonal materials be wasted.

With the abundance of materials in mind, I set a double themed exercise for the advanced students - 'A Variety of Materials' and 'Seasonal Materials'

Vicky used Japanese flowering quince, cottage gladioli, viburnum opulus'
magnolia, green Goddess lily and lilac
Bredenia used iris, euphorbia, mollis azalea, lilac and cherry

I used wisteria, viburnum opulus, crab apple blossoms,cottage
gladioli and cymbidium orchid

Lucy used Mahonia berries, clivias, banksia rose,viburnum opulus and aelstromeria
psitachina leaves
My wall arrangement is also on the same theme.

Shaneen's arrangement of 'Using Two or More Containers'
She used smoke bush and roses
On a previous class I had set the theme 'Floor Position Arrangement' from Book 5 for the advanced students.

Lucy used gymea leaves, New Zealand flax and arum lilies
Vicky used kiwi vine and oriental lilies
Nicole used willow and green Goddess lilies
Bredenia used a dried piece of unknown material and green Goddess lilies
I used pine, clivias and strelitzias under the curved staircase 
Bye for now,