Sunday, 22 October 2017

Hello all,

The rhizome for the iris, above, was given to me by Lyn Thomas, a former student. When she offered it to me she referred to it as 'flesh coloured', to which Lucy and I screwed up our faces. When it flowered, however, we were delighted. Lyn doesn't know the name of the iris but I looked up my iris book and found one that looks very much like it called 'Smoke Rings'. I arranged it in the traditional ikebana style, finished off with Japanese maple.

It's been a particularly busy fortnight, ikebana-wise, with Ikebana Intenational meeting on the 10th, two days of workshops with Yoshiro Umemura last weekend, classes on Wednesday and now preparing for a Sogetsu Exhibition in early November. More about that later.

The theme for the Ikebana International meeting was Japanese Day, so we were asked to make arrangements with the theme 'Memories of Japan'. I used in my arrangement Viburnum Opulus while still green, as I had first used it that way in class at Headquarters in 2014. I loved the vivid green of the flowers. The instructor on the day told me that this material is part of the Hydrangea family and I should dip the stem in burnt alum to help it last longer. A number of our Japanese members demonstrated the use of mizuhiki for gift wrapping and, also made origami bags with a mizuhiki 'knot'inside for everyone. And the light lunch that was provided at the end was delicious. For all the photographs please go to


The themes for Yoshiro's workshops were all from Book 5. The first was Lesson 3 - Arrangements on the Table' Mine was for a coffee table, so the view from above was important.

Dietes leaves, strelitzias and alstroemeria leaves
The second workshop was Lesson 9 - 'Floor Position Arrangements'. Apart from the description in English in the book, Yoshiro explained that the arrangement was meant to appear to be rising out of the ground.

Green Goddess lilies and stem of palm leaf

The third workshop was Lesson 20 - 'Complementing an Art Work'. In this theme we were to incorporate the art work in our arrangement. I picked a print, which I treasure because it was given to me by my friend Akiko Takahira. I made my arrangement to continue 'the story'.

Close-up of the print

I used bamboo and lilac in ceramic container

And the final workshop was Lesson 24 -  'Using Various Locations'. I chose this storeroom door in a dull blue colour. Yoshiro explained that if we were to make an arrangement on a wall we needed to incorporate the space around it and not to just make a 'Wall Arrangement'. I tried to do this by using the door handle, on to which I attached some of the material, continuing the line towards the circle. The door frame acted as a frame for the arrangement.

I have to give credit to our members, as the work produced in all four of the workshops was quite impressive. Please go to our blog for Yoshiro's arangements as well as our members'.

For class last week, Vicky, after cutting back her agave, provided us with ample material for a workshop on this very strong but also versatile material. It is a favourite of mine and I have used it in so many different ways in the past, that coming up with something new was challenging.Below is my arrangement. After creating the structure and placing it with this heavy container, I looked around my garden for complementary material to use as a mass but nothing satisfied me. I used the calla lilies as the best of a bad lot. A few days later, my yellow mollis azalea flowered and I replaced the lilies with it. For the green mass at the back I used my trusty alstroemeria leaves.

Aurelia Dong
Nicole McDonald
Lucy Papas

Bredenia Raquel
Vicky Kalokathis
Today is a cold and wet Melbourne day but we recently had some very warm weather, which was appreciated by all, including some of the fauna inhabiting our garden. I almost stepped on this blue toungued lizard when I turned the corner to go to the back garden. It had a companion, that scurried away at my approach but this one seemed quite comfortable in my presence. Later that day, Sam saw a juvenile lizard walking across the path. We feel privileged to be living in an area where we can have wildlife such as these lizards, the occasional tawny frogmouth, a family of cookaburras, frogs and dozens and dozens of birds. There are, however, some drawbacks such as the possums that eat all our fruit and the one that has made our windowsill its home. It cuts branches from my conifer and carries them to the window sill, making its bed with them. when the branches dry, it drops them in to my garden and goes and cuts new ones. Every single day! Then there was the Crow with a megaphone that sat on the pittosporum  outside my window at some ungodly hour of the morning and who had a great deal to say. The expression 'Stone the Crows!' came vividly to mind.

Our Sogetsu group's annual exhibition will be held at the Malvern Artist's Society Gallery (1297-99 High St. Malvern) from Thursday 2nd November until Tuesday 7th, from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm. I will be on duty there on Tuesday afternoon.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Bamboo culm sheath and bromeliad flower
Hello all,

I think I was always meant to study ikebana as is evidenced by a number of vases suited to ikebana that I bought long before I knew anything about this art form. I bought the little vase, above, in 1988 in Athens, three years before I started ikebana.

My grandchildren usually pay no attention to my arrangements. They seem to have accepted them as part of the furniture. Except for the arrangement, above, which is more that a metre tall, requiring 15 stems of Green Goddess lilies and which caught the eye of my granddaughter, Hermione. She said she liked it because it looked like a water fountain.

I made this arrangement because my rhododendron demanded it.

And now for some class work. The two arrangements, below have the theme - 'Keeping in Mind the View from Below'

I used flowering elm branch and rhododendron
flowers in this wall arrangement. 
Aurelia used freesias and alstroemeria leaves

I set the senior girls the theme from book 5 - 'Composing with Branches - A Two-step Approach'. First we created a composition using cut branches that could stand alone. Then, we introduced an appropriate container and fresh materials to complete the arrangement.

The two photographs, below, are my attempts at this exercise. I found a rather large elm branch on the ground and used it by cutting the thicker parts, creating a base and adding the finer branches at the top.  Thereby creating a type of mass. I tried many containers before I settled on this one. Most of them looked too heavy, whereas this one, with the opening in the middle seemed to fit the bill best. The clivias just finished it off.

Bredenia used thick contorted hazel branches with clivias and
alstroemeria leaves

Lucy used dried pine branches with flowering elm
In my absence my stachyurus came into full flower and I almost missed it. However, I managed to get this one arrangement from it.

I leave you with this arrangement which epitomizes  spring.

Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum and Dutch iris
Bye for now,