Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Hello all,

Well, spring is in full swing now and we are enjoying some glorious sunny days. My garden beckons as there are many chores to be done in preparation for summer but a chronic back problem is preventing me from getting stuck into it.

However, my sore back is not stopping me from enjoying ikebana, using spring flowering branches and flowers.

For our previous class I set a double theme - 'A Freestyle Arrangement in a suiban without a kenzan' and 'Using only one kind of material'.

This was quite challenging as I expected the students to avoid resting the stems against the container and balance the work to stand freely. I'm happy to say that they all rose to the challenge.

For my arrangement below in a large class bowl, I used 'Prunus Elvins' stems. I planted this little tree two years ago and this is the first time I cut it.

The branches for this next arrangement are from some type of eucalyptus with creamy white flowers growing along the stem as well as some interesting gum nuts. It grows in my neighbours garden and I'm sorry to say, I've not been able to find out its name.

I had mentioned in a couple of my previous posts that we were to participate in the Box Hill Floral Art Exhibition and we did so on the 13th & 14th September. This was a very successful exhibition, which featured a 90 minute demonstration by Mary Sweeney, a very experienced and world travelled demonstrator. She did many arrangements, my favourite of which is the one below, using apples and coat hangers on pieces of wood.

My students and I put some arrangements in the foyer. Unfortunately, a number of my students were away traveling and could not take part. Those that did are as follows:

Marcia Lamrock did this arrangement to be viewed from above, using loropetalum and camelia.

Aurelia Dong, who has just started on book 2, did this variation number 4 upright style moribana, using bamboo which she treated to make it last.

Vicky Kalokathis worked on this unusual material removing a lot of the branches to create this creature like structure. She then added cymbidium orchids and aspidistra leaves. Unfortunately, it does not photograph well but I've included photos from two angles to get a better perspective.

Lucy Papas made these two glass arrangement, cleverly linking the inside of the container with the outside. In the first, she used palm leaves and a stem from umbrella grass. In the second she used a philodendron leaf, which she stripped and a waratah flower. They were much admired by the public.

I did the next three arrangements, two of which I photographed after I brought them home because the background in the hall was too distracting.

In this first one I used a large branch of weeping mulberry which I rescued from my neighbour's wood pile fighting his dog the whole time. This rusty old container seemed perfectly matched and was the only one large enough to carry the branch, which measures 1.5m X 2.0m. I used large Green Goddess lilies coming forward and at the back I used white calla lilies, which are hidden in the photograph.

The silver birch in this next arrangement was lying around in my garden for some years and developed these fascinating fungi. When I stumbled (literally) across it, I couldn't resist making an arrangement to showcase it. After I brought it home and set it up, Lexi, my cat, claimed it and would not come out. So, here she is part of my arrangement.

As they are difficult to see in the main photo, I've included a couple of close-ups of the fungi below. I find them absolutely fascinating.

My Strelitzia Nicoli flowered, very conveniently, just in time for the exhibition and had to be used. The smaller part was actually attached to the larger piece but I separated them and used them in two containers with this copper coloured fabric. This strelitzia is very heavy and has a short stem thus limiting the ways it can be used.

On the stage of the hall, 3 ikebanists and 3 floral art members were given the task of making an arrangement to complement a painting of each one's choice. We all enjoyed this challenge and with permission from the Whitehorse Council, who own the paintings, I am able to feature them here.

Jan Keppie

                Norma Bathie

Glenda Nielsen

Betty Karanikolopoulos

Toula Karanikolopoulos

Emily Karanikolopoulos

Just as I was reviewing this post in readiness to publish, I received the very sad news that CARLYNE PATTERSON, my ikebana teacher for 15 years, has passed away after a protracted illness. Carlyne devoted herself to Sogetsu ikebana for decades and her passing is a great loss to the ikebana community.

I am very grateful to Carlyne for her teaching, constant encouragement and support. It was at her insistence that I began teaching and to make it easier for me, she offered her studio for my classes, which I used for a short time.

Carlyne was a dedicated teacher and I am, by no means, the only one to have benefited from her tutelage. There are a great many people who are enjoying ikebana because of her and who are, I'm sure, just as sad at her loss. May she rest in peace.


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Hello everyone. Well we've returned from Bali having spent all our time at the resort doing absolutely nothing but relaxing by the pool. Now we're back to our busy lives, the trip is a distant memory.

In my previous post I featured a photograph of an arrangement I did at the resort using tropical materials from the gardens. As the time passed and the leaves I used aged and changed colour I rearranged them and below is the result.

Then, on the day we were to leave, I played with the crabclaw heliconia before throwing it away. It was still very fresh and provided a rare opportunity to 'disassemble and rearrange' it. The photographs below are just some of the arrangements I made using the one heliconia and what few resources were available in our suite. I think you can guess I had a lot of fun.

So, back in Melbourne, spring is in the air, albeit a little late but it is a welcome sight anyway.

In one of my recent posts I featured arrangements I made using prunings from my garden. Three weeks ago my neighbour, Robert took out his chainsaw and put it to very good use in his overgrown garden collecting all the cuttings into a huge pile.

This was an opportunity not to be missed, so, with his permission, I climbed over the fence and started rummaging through the 'pile'. I found some treasures buried deep and struggled to pull them out but I was determined to have them. My biggest problem, however, was fighting off his dog that was convinced I was there solely for her benefit and jumped all over me the whole time, bruising me with her claws and pulling threads on my top.

With an abundance of pussy willow in a bucket, I set the class theme for my senior students- 'workshop with pussy willow'.

Below are a couple arrangements I did before class.

Amongst Robert's prunings pile I found a beautiful branch of this conifer with fronds that lay flat against each other. Together with the Strelitzia from my garden I made the arrangement below. It's been sitting on my island bench for three weeks now and still looks as fresh as when I first placed it there. Very versatile material for exhibitions.

We've had some very severe weather the last couple of days that did quite a lot of damage in the garden, the worst of which was the scattering of the petals of my magnolia soulangeana tree. It was looking magnificent but now most of the petals are strewn all over my lawn. I did, however, manage to cut some branches and arrange them before the storms hit.

At our recent Ikebana International meeting one of our members provided a bucketful of daffodils from her garden to sell at the stall and I bought three bunches. Their delicate beauty epitomizes spring but they are not easy to arrange. So I placed them very naturalistically in this trough, which I set on my windowsill where I can enjoy them each time I walk past.

I leave you with this last spring arrangement for which I used my Stachyurus praecox and the first flower and a bud from my Magnolia liliiflora 'Nigra'. The container is one I made many years ago and was inspired by the pipes in the ceiling of the domestic terminal of the Sydney airport. I'm including a side view to show the beautiful curves of the stachyurus.

I bid you all a good night as I'm off to bed. The next two days I'll be very busy preparing for the Box Hill Floral Art exhibition, which will be held at the Box Hill Town Hall on Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. Some of my students and I will be exhibiting in the foyer and my two sisters-in-law and I will be exhibiting on the stage together with some Floral Art members. We will each have a painting, which we will reference with a floral arrangement. I hope o see some of you there.