I arrived on Monday and have been trying to set up house in the tiniest apartment imaginable. The process has been exciting, frustrating, exhausting and exhilarating. Unfortunately, I arrived feeling quite sick with a chest infection and heavily medicated. I'm happy to say, though, I am well on my way to recovery.
I visited the school yesterday and met with Ms Takahira, who went out of her way to be kind and helpful and showed me around the school and introduced me to a number of people in the organization.
This morning I set out, all rugged up against the cold and rain, nice and early to go to my first lesson. To say that I was excited is an understatement. I was met, again, by the lovely Ms Takahira who introduced me to the flower vendor and the two assistants in the classroom, who also act as translators for foreign students. It was a delightful surprise when I recognized Tamae San, whom I met in Sydney during Iemoto's visit. I also had the pleasure of meeting her during my visit here in 2010, when, again, she translated for me. It was like meeting a friend.
In the foyer of the third floor, outside of the classroom there are two rows of materials: on one side are bunches of branch type material and on the other bunches of flowers. With each lesson, we are permitted two bunches of material and we can choose the combination.
Today's theme was 'Me in Ikebana'.
As I looked at the choices before me, I noticed pussy willow branches and amongst the flowers, a small bunch of tulips. They triggered a memory of a demonstration by Norman Sparnon. It was one of only two of his demonstrations I was privileged to witness and in one arrangement he used pussy willow and tulips. I remember him vividly with his beanie and his hands trembling with the effort required to bend the rather thick stems of pussy willow. So, there and then, I decided that my first arrangement would be a tribute to the late, Great Norman Sparnon. I could never hope to emulate him but I can certainly learn from him.
My arrangement, as seen in the photograph, is made using the bent pussy willow to emphasize curved lines - on one side they are heavier and longer than the other and between them is the accent of flowers. I was pleasantly surprised when bending the pussy willow that the catkins stayed on. In fact removing them took some effort. The variety we have at home needs great care not to lose too many catkins while handling.
The first photo shows the front view, the second is from the side. The instructor, Samura San liked the lines and made two corrections. She felt the depth was too long and, although she liked the placement of the branches, she wanted me to remove the catkins from the bottom part of the pussy willow to emphasize lines at the base. Below are three photographs of the same arrangement after a very hasty redoing..
Sayonara until next time, Emily