Thursday, 28 July 2016

Hello all,
On the second of July, Lucy and I ran a workshop with our group with the theme from the proposed book 5 - 'That which cannot be expressed by Plants'. We gave a great deal of thought to this theme because we have not as yet received any guidelines from headquarters. We looked through past Sogetsu magazines that have exhibition pieces which are made by man-made materials only and came up with our own take on the theme. That is, we were to use metal, plastic, glass, paper, fabric and even wood that has gone through some kind of manufacturing process. We did not eliminate all organic materials such as paper, fabric, wool or cotton yarn etc. We only eliminated all plant materials whether they be fresh or dry. We will, of course, rethink all of the above if headquarters advises us differently.

Lucy and I enjoyed this exercise so much that we had difficulty stopping at just one or two examples.  As a consequence we went a little overboard. Lucy made the eight pieces below.

Sheets of aluminium with copper coloured cardboard
Particle board and cardboard with wire legs
Steel reinforcements and plastic strips
Aluminium and glass

Glass with metal triangles, topped with crushed glass
Wire, paper and Christmas bauble in metal container

The seven pieces below were made by me.

Plastic and cords, aluminium strip and wooden board

Aluminium and copper

Plastic on chrome base and crushed glass

Partly rusted steel, wooden balls
Wooden balls sprayed silver
Plastic tube, metal ring and glass filled with crushed

3 different types of plastic

The above piece used in a wall arrangement with carex leaves
and green Goddess lilies
Some very good work was produced by our members and I recommend that you visit for the photographs. We have Christopher James to thank for all the photographs, including the editing of mine and Lucy's.

Bye for now,

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Hello all,

A very significant event took place a fortnight ago - our little Aria's Christening. It took place at St. Peter's Catholic Church, where Father Hayes officiated over a beautiful service and we later celebrated with family members at a Greek restaurant. 

Our little girl behaved perfectly the whole day and made us all proud. She wore the Christening gown I made for her mother 35 years ago which touched me deeply. 

My contribution to the event was to make the cake, below and the flower arrangement that was placed at the entry of the restaurant and which could be seen through glass from inside the restaurant. This meant it had to be 'viewed from all angles'.

At our recent Ikebana International meeting I was asked to fill in at the last minute as demonstrator. And whilst I was on the theme of 'to be viewed from all angles' I chose to demonstrate it. I started by showing how I secured this heavy piece of wood by wiring it to a horizontal bar which I put across the wider part of the inside of the container. This theme requires that the arrangement has some point of interest on each side, as per the photographs below.

The cold Melbourne weather continues, but as I'm writing this in the cosy warmth of my kitchen, I can hear hammering outside. Upon inspection, I find our new next door neighbour, Thomas and his son, Connor building a tree house on the golden elm which grows right on the fence line.

In this age of screens, computer games and all things electronic, I find it truly heart warming to see a father and son engaging in such a wholesome activity. With their permission, I have included this photograph. Although it's not actually growing in our garden, the tree is a favourite of mine and we have a swing that we hang from one of the limbs, that our grandkids love.

This tree - Ulmus glabra 'Lutescens' dominates one side of our back yard and four mature English elms dominate the opposite side. We consider ourselves very lucky to have these elm trees and over the years we have invested a substantial amount of money to have them treated for elm leaf beetle. Unlike other parts of the world that have had their elm populations decimated by Dutch elm disease, here in Melbourne we are still free of that scourge. The city of Melbourne manages approximately 6,000 trees including avenues of elms.

Bye for now,

Monday, 11 July 2016

The Brisbane group at the Saturday workshop. Unfortunately some had already left by the time this photo was taken.

Hello all,

Three weeks ago I was in Brisbane to run workshops with the Sogetsu group over two days. My visit started by being picked up at the airport by Catherine Purdon, the director and her husband Ross and delivered to a comfortable motel.

The next morning Catherine picked me up and we arrived at the library hall nice and early. This gave us enough time to prepare before the workshop.

In the morning we worked with a 'tsubo vase'. This is one of the lessons that will be included in the proposed book 5. I demonstrated the different mechanics that can be employed with this particular type of container and then made an arrangement using one of the methods, as per the sequence of photographs below.

In the afternoon I showed the attendees how to wire umbrella grass or bull rushes stems to create a surface and then used it in an arrangement. Because I have umbrella grass growing in abundance, I've developed this method and have been using it for a long time. 

The whole of the following day was devoted to a type of workshop that I took part in when I attended classes run by Kawana sensei in Tokyo. Small bunches of somewhat disparate material was given to each of the attendees who were told to make as many different arrangements as possible using only that material. This was not a theme I could demonstrate, so I have no photographs to post.

The committee as well as other members brought containers and kenzans, which they placed on tables at the front of the hall. Each member was asked to use a container they hadn't used before and to create an arrangement, photograph it and then dismantle it, return the container to the table and pick a new one for another arrangement, and so on. Members were surprised at how many arrangements they were able to make with the limited materials they had.

It was a very pleasant and rewarding experience for me with a group of talented and dedicated ikebanists. I was very warmly received and I'm grateful to the committee for providing materials and containers. They put in a lot of effort to make the workshops run smoothly. I'm especially indebted to Catherine and Ross Purdon for acting as my personal chauffeurs.

Busy ikebana bees!
For photographs of arrangements by the members, please go to the website- 

Bye for now,


Friday, 1 July 2016

Hello all,

Well, June has been a particularly busy ikebana month, even by my standards. I taught my usual classes, went to Brisbane to run two days of workshops (more about that later) and have been preparing for a workshop with the Victorian group on Saturday.

 For our last lesson I set the theme from the proposed book 5 'The 50 principles of Sogetsu'. I asked the students to read them again, pick one that resonated with them and interpret it in an ikebana arrangement. I explained that my role as the teacher was to help with the arrangement itself but the concept was theirs entirely.

I made three examples, the first  no. 36 - 'In addition to the colours of flowers, pay attention to containers, pedestals, walls and lights'. I placed my basket arrangement against a yellow wall and used viburnum opulus in its Autumn colours and clivia caulescence flowers as well as yellow berries from a tree that I have not been able to identify. I'm including a close up of the berries branch in the hope that someone may recognize it and let me know.

There are, usually, more berries in each stem than are shown here
My second example no. 44 - 'Be sure to make definite points of emphasis and avoid redundancy in the arrangement'. For me, the emphasis or focal point is the meeting of the bull rushes. I deliberately avoided the use of flowers as it would have created another focal point.

And lastly, no. 29 - 'Study arrangements that can be made without containers. Study dried and coloured materials as well'. You may remember the arrangement I made with strelitzia nicolai in my previous post. Well, when the flowers died, I removed them and cleaned and polished the remainder and made this arrangement without a container. The points of this material are too soft to hold up its weight, so I inserted sticks to hold it up.

Lucy and Helen both picked no. 30 - 'Learn the spirit of artless art. Create a work with bones, flesh and skin, understanding the different levels of formality, Shin, Gyo and So, or formal, informal and casual'.

Lucy made two arrangements, the first one 'formal' and the second 'casual'.

Garirya elliptica and camelia

Yellow gingko leaves and wisteria
Helen's arrangement using lichen covered branches and jonquils.

Helen also picked no. 31- 'Ikebana may be comparable to painting, music or sculpture'. She used gyamea leaf and crab claw heliconia. 

Robyn picked no. 49 - 'The four principles of ikebana are a fresh approach, movement, balance and harmony; the three elements are line, colour and mass'. Robyn was the envy of the rest of the class because her very creative husband, Harry made this gorgeous iron container for her. In it she used coloured box thorn, wisteria vine and a stunning double banksia.

Bredenia picked no. 50 - 'Cultivate an eye for appreciation and a hand for creation. A sense of balance is essential. This can be achieved only through constant practice'. She used dried strelitzia nicolai leaves, red hot pokers and alstroemeria leaves.

And last but by no means least, Vicky picked no. 26 - 'When arranging, take a view of the work from a couple of paces away'. She used agave and bull rush.

Bye for now,