Wednesday, 31 January 2018

My gloriosa lilies in a made to order, hand blown vase by
Gordon Studio Glassblowers in Red Hill.
Hello all,

In this relatively quiet time of year and with the extreme heat forcing me indoors, I've been able to tackle some projects that I have put off for too long. One of these was the hanging on the wall of these three Washi paper scrolls. I bought them in Tokyo last year when my friend Emiko took me to an establishment that makes and sells washi paper in all forms. Some of them are so exquisite as to be of museum quality. Of course, I could not afford them but I did buy these three. I brought them home all rolled up and had to devise a method of hanging them. It took some doing but I'm happy with the end result. They hang above the couch in my bedroom.

Another, rather pressing project, was to replace the fabric on four throw cushions on my bed. I had made these cushions years ago using obi brocade materials which were showing real signs of wear and (literally) tear. I had bought obis in 2016 in Tokyo when my friend Haruko Hiratsuka took me to several shops selling kimonos, intending to make new covers but other projects always took priority. For an experienced seamstress like me, making cushion covers is child's play. However, these exquisite, Japanese textiles can be difficult to work with. First of all, they fray very easily. Then they are very stiff, some have metalic threads or metalic paint and are so dense that I had difficulty pushing a needle or pins through them. This meant that I could do no hand sewing and had to rely solely on the machine. But, they are done! Tick!

With the cool weather finally here, I was able to walk around my garden and observe, not only the damage, but also the growth, not to mention all the weeds! One very surprising change was to my Japanese maple. It has new and vibrant growth at the tips of the branches, quite uncharacteristic for this time of year. Normally, the leaves are brown at the tips from the excessive heat and this is the case now but only with the old leaves. The new leaves are larger than the rest and quite vibrant. I'm baffled as to why this has happened.

My mature Japanese maple with bright, lime green, new growth.
In this wall arrangement the old leaves are small and dark as compared with the new.

A couple of days ago I picked some Osage oranges (Maclura pomifera) from a tree that is growing by the side of the road near by. The fruit are an attractive lime green colour but are very heavy, often falling from the stem when trying to arrange them. I had some fun making the following three arrangements.

Osage oranges with variegated Japanese Iris
leaves in glass vase
Osage oranges and hydrangeas in resin vase

In this next arrangement, I used blue echinops from my garden, Osage oranges and yellow knophofia, for which I would like to thank Glenda Nielsen, who gave me the plant that produced them. I spayed the dried strelitzia leaf lightly with yellow to take away the dull grey colour. The vase is one I made long ago.

I was, recently, asked to set up an arrangement for an Aikido club, who were having an international seminar and wanted an ikebana arrangement next to the Shomen. As the time was approaching, I was keeping an eye on the weather forecast and became quite concerned when I realized that the four day seminar would fall right smack in the middle of the heat wave. And to make things worse, the gymnasium, in which the seminar was to be held, has no air conditioning. So, I abandoned my original, carefully made plans and decided to use my trusty, blue, mulberry branch. I chose the most robust materials I could find - pine branches, nandina domestica and 18 stems of blue and white agapanthus. These proved an excellent choice, as they survived the heat very well. In fact I was able to reuse some of the materials.

And, speaking of my trusty agapanthus, I leave you with this rather fun arrangement.

Bye for now,

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