Monday, 25 December 2017

Hello all,

And welcome to the Christmas issue. You may well ask what am I doing writing the blog on Christmas morning but I worked so hard and ran around like a hairy goat leading up to today, I baked and gave away to friends and family hundreds of biscuits that, now, I'm relatively free. Of course, the fact that my niece and her husband are hosting Christmas lunch is the real reason that I'm free.

Our last class for the year always has the theme 'A celebratory Arrangement' and, those who attended, all chose to make a Christmas one.

The giant ball, above, measures 80 cm in diameter and took some doing to, firstly. get the materials inside it and secondly to hang in front of the stairs. But it was worth the effort s it is the first thing people see when entering our house.

Dianne, who just started lessons, used
Eucalyptus, Roses and hydrangea

Shaneen Used papyrus, cherries, pittosporum
and mizuhiki

Bredenia used pine, roses, agapanthus and gold beads

Vicky used a dried branch sprayed white with cyprus, Asiatic lilies and baubles 

Nicole used agapanthus, wisteria sprayed gold and baubles

Guy used holly, roses and agapanthus
Lei used dried material from the date palm, celosias, chrisanthemums
and Christmas lilies
Lucy used pine, hydrangeas, mizuhiki and beads
I used dogwod (cornus Norman Haddon), hydrangeas and mizuhiki
I leave you with these two, rather fun, arrangements in which I used garlic flowers. My beloved thought he had planted spring onions in the vege patch but they turned out to be garlic, so I let them go to seed and coaxed them to bend.

The flower here is a Crucifix orchid
Merry Christmas to all of you celebrating the day and happy holidays to al the rest. Catch up in the new year.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Coloured mulberry branch, strelitzia reginae and
New Zealand flax

Hello all,

You may remember the above mulberry branch from the exhibition piece I did for the Sogetsu annual exhibition in November. It was easier to create a new wall arrangement than to try and find a place to store such a large branch. So, here it is. And it has undergone a number of transformations with the replacement of flowers and leaves as they die. It is still on the wall with mauve hydrangeas for flowers.

Catching up on some of the work done in class, here are some of the arrangements with the theme - 'To be viewed from above'.

My arrangement using canna lily leaves, hiippeastrums and the stem of a palm leaf
that was lying around
Vicky used gymea leaves and roses

Aurelia used the leaves and flower from her banksia tree and hydrangeas

Bredenia used acacia aphylla, proteas and scabiosas
Lucy used large loquat leaves and green Goddess lily

And another couple of arrangements I did with materials that were lying around in my ikebana room and for which I could not be bothered finding storage.

This agave was used in a previous arrangement and had
partially dried. What was left, I could not throw away, so I created
this arrangement with ornithogalum
A showcase for my peones, which were quite prolific this year (finally!)
I, initially, was going to remove the petals that fell but I changed
my mind, as I thought they were quite charming.
Bye for now,

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Ornithogalum, acacia aphylla and mizuhiki

Hello all,

I made the arrangement, above, for our last Ikebana International meeting. Usually, the mizuhiki is used as a final accent on a celebratory arrangement. However, I wanted to make more of a feature of it, using it as an unconventional material. The glass vases are such a striking red colour that I only use them for Christmas arrangements. For more photographs of that meeting please go to

In my last post I wrote about the training for Book 5 and workshops in Sydney. Misei Ishikawa Sensei demonstrated the correct way to arrange Japanese iris (Hanashobu, Iris ensata) and explained that in Japan the leaves of this iris are more expensive to buy than the flowers. And now I know why. I have a number of pots with this iris growing very successfully and, when I returned from Sydney, they were in full bloom. One of my first tasks was to cut and arrange them but, when it came to cutting the leaves, I found that most of them grow curved sideways or are quite floppy. In my arrangement, below I wanted to create a pond-like arrangement using three kenzans and three different groups of iris with leaves. As you can see, the leaves are not standing as vertically as they should.

Last Tuesday, was the last meeting of our Sogetsu chapter, after which, I ran a workshop with the theme - 'Ikebana using Fabric.' I had suggested to the members to treat this as the theme 'Fresh and unconventional material' using the fabric as the unconventional material. It was a day of great weather extremes with the Bureau of Meteorology warning people to avoid unnecessary travel for fear of possible flooding. I was quite relieved to see the 13 members who braved the elements to attend. Once there, we had fun exploring this new material and the feedback I got was all positive.

I had set up the three arrangements, below, as examples and I demonstrated  the fourth. For more photographs of the workshop please go to our Sogetsu blog.

Thai silk, cymbidium orchids and alstroemeria leaves
In ceramic vase
Sculptural aluminium stand with two different
obi fabrics and one gymea leaf

Silk chiffon, strelitzzia nicolai and kiwi vine in two glass vases
Red silk velvet, gold pleated fabric and mahonia leaves in two ceramic suibans
Recently I agreed to make an arrangement for an exhibition by artist, Beau Emmett. His exhibition ran for five weeks and I was to maintain the arrangement for the duration. However, after replacing the original material in the first week, I felt it would be more interesting to make different arrangements each week.

'Xanadu, an installation by Beau Emmett, explores the idea of the home and the tensions implicit in the universal quest and desire for comfort and stability in amongst shifting, precarious and at times volatile circumstances.  Emmetts collection of found images, soundscapes and obsession with ghost houses and a particular volcano come together to reiterate the concept that the home is a psychic space where consideration must be given to spirit of all things—animate and inanimate.'

The exhibition space with the ikebana arrangement in front of the screen and the
foam sculpture representing volcano
Japanese maple, roses and ornithogalum. Of course, when in situ, the maple draped
over the edge of the pedestal, unlike in this photo, where it touches the floor

Nandina domestica and strelitzia reginae flowers in ceramic vase

Dogwood, hippeastrum flowers and red coloued wisteria vine in ceramic container

New Zealnd flax and strelitzia reginae flowers

I leave you with this fun arrangement made last night by my student, Guy Pascoe, who is only in Book one of the curriculum but, who has studied fine arts and works as a florist for a large hotel.

Stems from unknown succulent and my first gloriosa
lily with vividly coloured plastic.
Bye for now,

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Misei Ishikawa sensei with her Celebratory arrangement
Hello all,

Last weekend Lucy and I, together with another 6 Victorian members, flew to  Sydney to attend Textbook #5 training plus workshops run by Master Instructor Ishikawa Sensei . It was an intense couple of days with lectures, demonstrations by Sensei and workshops.

The NSW members worked tirelessly for months, resulting in the very smooth running of this event. We, visitors, were very well looked after. Containers, kenzans and materials were all provided, so we just had to pack our hasamis and go. Lunches were provided to all who had pre-ordered them and there was an unlimited supply of cakes and baked goods provided by the members. On the Saturday night we all went to dinner, where we relaxed and socialized.

We came away feeling inspired and much more confident about teaching the lessons in Book #5. We, also, enjoyed the social aspect of the event. Meeting up with old acquaintances and forming new ones was an added bonus. For me, it was a particular pleasure to see Ishikawa Sensei again. I first met her at Headquarters in 2016 where she worked in the classroom and, with her excellent English, was very helpful to me and the other students.

On the Saturday Sensei conducted lectures using a power point presentation and demonstrated 9 arrangements, an exhausting day's work! On Sunday, some more demonstrations and then it was our turn. In the morning the theme was 'Two approaches to branches' and, for this each participant was given a bunch of dry branches. Also Sensei requested that we all use some camellia branches in whichever quantity we wanted. Once we created a structure with the branches, Sensei critiqued it and then we selected containers, flowers and leaves provided by the committee to complete the arrangement. For photographs of Sensei's work, I recommend you go to because it was difficult for me to take good photographs in that environment.

My arrangement using hydrangeas, Asiatic
lilies and aspidistra leaves

Lucy's Arrangement using hydrangeas and strelitzia

For the Celebratory arrangements sensei wanted to know which event each one of us intended to celebrate with our arrangement. There were a surprising number of different and interesting ideas. Mine was going to be a simple Christmas arrangement for which I had bought an unusual white sheet of some synthetic material, which had glitter on one side. Unfortunately this doesn't show in the photograph, below. As the arrangement 'evolved' it took a shape of its own and I decided that it was a ' Christmas Celebration on a Sailing boat on Sydney Harbour'

Asiatic lilies, aspidistra, sprigs of camellia and mizuhiki, provided
by Ishikawa sensei
Lucy's arrangement, in her own words, was the celebration of a non-gay person of the success of the 'Yes' vote for marriage equality.

Camellia branches, hydrangeas and gold paper
Ishikawa sensei was also able to demonstrate Japanese iris thanks to Yoshiro Umemura, who provided the iris and leaves.
Ishikawa Sensei with assistant, Sandy Marker demonstrating
Japanese iris arrangement.
Finally, I would like to thank Margaret Hall, Sandy Marker and all the other Sydney members for hosting this event so successfully and for their warmth and generosity.

Bye for now,

Friday, 17 November 2017

Lucy with George, both dressed in the style 'Steam Punk'.
If, like me, you don't know what that is, I recommend

Hello all,

As this is an ikebana blog, I keep posts of personal events to a minimum. However, I would like to share with you some photos of a recent, somewhat significant event. Lucy, pictured above, is my sister and most senior student and has recently had a milestone birthday. And, as with the previous two milestone birthdays, she celebrated it with a fancy dress party.

A great deal of preparation was required by the whole family for the party that turned out to be a resounding success. The venue was large and well appointed so that we had ample room for dancing. We Greeks love to dance and we danced our shoes off that night. The caterers did a great job and the friends and family members, who provided cakes for the dessert part of the meal, outdid themselves. But it was the effort that everybody put into their costumes that created the most fun. Here are some photos.

 Lucy, mum as Judge Judy, me as Queen Nefertiti and Vicky as Maleficent.

Sam as King Henri VIII and I

My granddaughter Hermione
My grandson Xavier, as Michael Jackson in 'Thriller"

Xavier with his father, Warren the zombie 
Granddaughter, Aria as 'Pebbles'

My son, Dennis as 'The Green Lantern' with daughter, Hermione
and wife, Jeannine as Carrie Bradshaw from 'Sex and the City'

Peter as Sultan and Vicky

My daughter, Madeline as Uhura from 'Star Trek'

A great number of amazing costumes were worn on the night, which I can't include here but the photo, below, is of the five of us from my ikebana class that were in attendance.

Lucy, Bredenia, Vicky, Aurelia and I
Apart from making my costume, my daughter's and granddaughter's, I also made four table arrangements and the cake with Lucy's assistance.

This, too, is in the Steam Punk style. I apologize for the poor quality
of the photo. It didn't occur to any of us to photograph the cake. This is
an enlargement from a larger photograph which I cropped
Lucy, Vicky and I made four table arrangements each, all of them different. Unfortunately, I was the only one to photograph mine before placing on the tables. The variety of ikebana arrangements created interest, even among people who would not normally notice the flowers on the table. Below are just a couple.

Hippeastrum, Canna lily leaves and mizuhiki

Umbrella grass stems and strelitzias
I leave you now to rush to the airport. Lucy and I are flying to Sydney to attend workshops and a training session on Book 5 of our curriculum, run by Misei Ishikawa sensei from headquarters. More about this later.

Bye for now,