Demo At The Mahone Bay Garden Club

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Thank you very much to the Mahone Bay Garden Club for your warm welcome last night!

We were very happy for the opportunity to introduce ikebana to you.  We loved your insightful questions and sharp observations!  We hope you enjoyed our presentation!

Maybe we'll see some of you in our ikebana lessons one day!

My Ikebana: Linden Branches, No Kenzan

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Sometimes, we prefer to create an arrangement on a suiban (flat container) without using kenzans because we are able to show the beauty and purity of the water without any disruption.

The challenge for making this type of arrangement is putting together a stable frame.  The key is to choose the appropriate branch and set them on 3 legs.  Once the basic structure is secure, then we can add more materials and start having fun with the arrangement!


I used linden tree branches (picked up from the sidewalk!) with pink roses and solidaster.  Here is the whole arrangement.


I hope you like it.  --Miyako

"Sō" Magazine August 2017

Added on by the ikebana shop.

The arrangement displayed during the Afterglow Art Festival 2016 in Bridgewater NS was featured in the August 2017 issue of "Sō" (「草」) Magazine, the official publication of the Sogetsu Teachers' Association.

To find out more about what we did at the Afterglow Art Festival 2016, please click here.

Introducing Sogetsu Textbook 5

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The Sogetsu School of Ikebana has recently introduced a new textbook, Textbook 5: Technique & Creation, to its curriculum.  Completion of Textbook 5 is now a prerequisite in order to obtain the Teacher's Diploma 4th Grade.  Iemoto Akane Teshigahara and other Sogetsu masters have been conducting seminars for Sogetsu teachers to update them regarding the instruction of Textbook 5.  It is important to note that only teaching members of the Sogetsu Teachers' Association (STA) who have successfully completed the Textbook 5 special training sessions are qualified to teach Textbook 5.

Unfortunately, there has been no opportunity yet for a Sogetsu master to visit Canada (let alone little ol' Halifax!) to conduct a training session.  So this summer, Miyako travelled to Tokyo to attend the Iemoto's seminar at the Sogetsu headquarters!  We are happy to announce that Miyako successfully completed the seminar so all of her students who have finished Textbook 4 may begin challenging Textbook 5!

So what's new with Textbook 5?
The greatest impact of the introduction of Textbook 5 is the standardization of the curriculum on the way to obtaining the Teacher's Diploma 4th Grade.  In the past, after finishing Textbook 4, students needed to take more preparatory lessons before applying for the Teacher's Diploma.  Those lessons fell into a kind of grey area where the content was based on the individual teacher's discretion.  The old system did work in the sense that the teacher was able to re-direct the student's attention to themes that needed reinforcement.  However, the system also resulted in differences in training experience, depending on what one's teacher decided to focus on.  Textbook 5 replaces that "grey area" and provides a standard and solid lesson plan for Teacher's Diploma preparation.

The content of Textbook 5 is described by four key words: "technique", "materials", "placement", and "creation".  Above all of that is the emphasis on self-knowledge.  Only with profound self-knowledge could one uniquely express oneself through ikebana and have the confidence to become another's teacher.

There are many, many things to look forward to in Textbook 5...from new techniques in securing an arrangement in a spherical tsubo vase (if you thought nageire was difficult, think again!) to creating an arrangement from behind.  Textbook 5 also shows us examples of arrangements in situ...i.e. in the the actual locations where the arrangements were meant to be placed.  It gives us fresh ideas on where ikebana can be incorporated in our living space. Indeed, ikebana arrangements are meant to be placed somewhere....not just at a photographer's studio!  Other samples of interesting challenges are the use of mizuhiki (paper cord) for celebratory arrangements and creating ikebana to complement an art work. We will stop here and let you explore Textbook 5 on your own!

Browse through Textbook 5 next time you are in the studio for your lessons and see what you can look forward to!  It is available to students who have completed Textbook 4.  (Please note: We do not sell Sogetsu textbooks to the general public.)

The Barrington Street Bouquet

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Our friends at Argyle Fine Art called on us for a street art collaboration...turning a sidewalk garbage can into a floral installation!  The idea was inspired by the work of NYC floral designer Lewis Miller who used his excess bouquets to beautify New York City's trash cans.  

We wanted the flowers to last for at least a week so we decided to use potted plants rather than cut flowers.  It was also a sensible choice for the budget we have.  Of course, we added other things to make it all lively!  The objective was to brighten up downtown Halifax a little bit more with flower art.

We made pinwheels.

We painted dried branches.

The installation is at the corner of Barrington and Blowers Streets in downtown Halifax.

The potted flowers of choice were mandevillas. Our florist assured us that they bloom well and that the flowers last for a while.  We also used dried gourd cups (which we hand-painted) to add more colour.

The pinwheels went to the bottom...and they do spin when there's a breeze!  A little extra motion to catch people's eyes!  Look here.

And there it is!  It will be up until July 29th, 2017 (Saturday). Take down will be on Sunday, July 30th, morning.  Please come and see it!

Many thanks to Argyle Fine Art, the Downtown Halifax Business Commission and the City of Halifax for making this possible!

My Ikebana: Like Sumi-E

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For this arrangement, I took inspiration from sumi-e (墨絵 - the art of Japanese ink painting). It is an isshu-ike (一種生け - arrangement with only one kind of material) using only pussywillow branches.  The branches were like sumi ink, used to paint a picture.

We rendered the image in black and white.  Can you recognize the nijimi (滲み - brush stroke with a full charge of ink) and kasure (掠れ - brush stroke with drying ink)?

I hope you like it.  --Miyako

My Ikebana: Hanging A Watering Can

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Tsuribana (吊り花), "hanging flower", is one of the themes in the new Textbook 5.  The problem with trying to suspend a ceramic flower container is that it becomes too heavy!  So I decided to use a plastic watering can and dangle it from a curtain rod.  The window provides a good frame although it is backlit in the daytime!

I cut palm buds in long strips and bunched & curled them together.  Wine red gerberas provide accent and colour.

Working on a hanging arrangement is quite a different experience.  Be prepared to step up and down a chair many, many times!  Also, lack of stability is a difficulty because the container does not sit steadily on a flat surface.  

I love this challenge because it further expands the possibilities for ikebana.  

I hope you like it.  --Miyako

Caring For Your Ikebana Clippers

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For the serious ikebana practitioner, a pair of trusty ikebana clippers is an indispensable tool.  The clippers are an extension of one's hands.  And so, we must treat them like our hands.  If our hands are dirty, we wash them. If our hands are wet, we dry them.  So must we with our ikebana clippers!

Keep the clippers clean.
Stains from plants, sap from branches, etc... they will stick to your clippers. Accumulated dirt and stains will also hamper the functionality of your clippers.  

Clean your clippers after each use. We're not saying that we should emulate the consummate sushi chef who wipes his beloved knife after each slice of fish; but after finishing your arrangement, cleaning the clippers must be automatic.  (So is cleaning up your work area, wiping down the table, disposing of unwanted twigs and leaves, etc for that matter!)

Besides, clippers look prettier when clean!

Keep The Clippers Dry
Most ikebana clippers are made with high carbon steel.  They are tough and could cut thick branches.  But, they are also prone to rust.

After use, you can run some water over your clippers to wash them.  The important thing is to dry them afterwards.  Use a dry towel to wipe off water.  Do not immediately stow them in their case.  Make sure they are completely free of moisture before putting them away. 

If you are not planning to use your clippers in a while, put a sheen of oil over the blades.  Cover every bit of the blades and make sure to put a few drops on the joint and rivets too.  



A very short primer on rusting: water+oxygen on steel = rust! Water is the catalyst for the oxidation process that produces "hydrated iron oxide"...a.k.a. rust!  Oil and water do not mix. A protective coating of oil stops water from seeping through to the steel. It also protects your blades from the moisture found in the air.


You wouldn't this to happen to your clippers!

Don't Forget The Small Towel
When practicing ikebana, always have a small towel for your clippers on the table.  The obvious reason is so that you can wipe the blades clean any time you need to do so.  It also comes in handy to clean up water splashes.  But, there is another equally important reason to have the small towel around.  Every time you need to put your clippers down, place them gently on the towel...never directly on the table.

The towel muffles the sound when the clippers hit the table.  Imagine a roomful of ikebana students, all producing loud clattering noises as they put their clippers down.  It is very distracting and disruptive to the serenity of the class.  Using a towel to soften the noise is a sign of respect towards your teacher and fellow students.  As well, it protects the table from nicks and scratches!

Don't Wiggle!
Did you notice that ikebana clippers have a joint that is a bit looser than those of a pair of scissors or even floral clippers?  Ikebana clippers also do not have an embedded spring grip that limit how wide you can open it. This is because they are made to cut not only flower stems but also thicker branches.  Ikebana clippers are tough and strong.  However, there are limits and if the branch is too thick, then better use a bigger tool like a handsaw to cut it.  Do not twist the clippers left and right in an effort to sever the branch.  This action, done often enough, would loosen the joint too much and damage your clippers.  

Also, avoid using the clippers to cut other things other than plant material.  Unless your clippers have a wire-cutting notch, snipping floral wires is not recommended.

Let The Pros Do It
As with any blade, ikebana clippers will lose their edge in due course. Ikebana clippers have an asymmetrical bevel.  Burr may have to be removed on the other side but actual sharpening should be done only on one side.  Incorrect sharpening will change the original grind and will affect the functionality of your clippers.  If you are not sure how to do it, then just let a professional blade sharpener do it.  And if you need to find one in Halifax, click here!

Cover Up!
We all know that serious ikebana practitioners always have their clippers handy.  A simple clipper cover is convenient and easy to use. It will protect you from injury and your bag's contents from damage.


A good pair of ikebana clippers will last a long time.  Through years of constant use, they will lose their lustre in parts. They might even gain a few hard-to-remove stains.  That means those clippers are slowly getting their unique character and soon they will become like an old friend and trusty companion.  So let's make sure we show our clippers tender and loving care!

My Ikebana: Overflow

Added on by the ikebana shop.

One of the themes in the new Sogetsu textbook #5 is "Composition expressing a movement."   From a list of "action" words, we have to choose one and express it in our ikebana.  For this arrangement, I chose to focus on the word "overflow".

in a top-heavy container, gypsophilia were arranged to look like they were bursting out and forming a mass at the container's opening.  The red dogwood and myrtle branches seem to be carried to somewhere far away by the flow.

Here is the whole arrangement.

I hope you like it.  --Miyako

"Sō" Magazine April 2017

Added on by the ikebana shop.

The ikebana display created by Miyako for Easter Liturgy at the Sacred Heart School of Halifax last year (2016) was featured in the April, 2017 edition of "Sō" (「草」) magazine, the official publication of the Sogetsu Teachers' Association.