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

Added on by the ikebana shop.

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

Added on by the ikebana shop.

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

Added on by the ikebana shop.

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.

My Ikebana: Just Tulips

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Spring is in the air in Halifax.  Tulips should be blooming soon!

Tulips growing tall and straight are wonderful signs of strength and fortitude.  

But wouldn't it be interesting for tulips to show some curves too?  I bent some stems in this bunch of tulips to show a sense of motion and portrayed them to be in a light-hearted dance.

Here is the whole arrangement.  

I hope you like it.  --Miyako

Gyoza Cooking Workshop Photos

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Thank you to everyone who came to our Gyoza Cooking Workshop last Sunday, Apr 9th.  We hope you enjoyed!  ...and we hope you will now be able to make your own gyoza at home! :-)

Special thanks to Patti V. for sharing her photos with us!

(Image courtesy of Patti V.)

Hands-on with the gyoza wrapping!

Before cooking. (Image courtesy of Patti V.)

After cooking. (Image courtesy of Patti V.)

My Ikebana: Magnolia Branch Only

Added on by the ikebana shop.

The challenge was to create an arrangement using only magnolia branches. This style is called "isshu-ike" (一種生け), "arrangement with only one kind of material".

The leathery leaves have different colours on either side--dark green on one side and orange-brown on the other.  This colour difference was used to show contrast.

After the framework had been determined, the leaves were arranged to form a somewhat checkered pattern (市松模様 ichimatsu moyoh).

Here is the whole arrangement. 

I hope you like it.  --Miyako

Japanese Home Cooking Workshop: Gyoza

Added on by the ikebana shop.

2nd Update 26-Mar-2017:
A second workshop will be held on the same day, Apr 9th (Sun), 2:00-3:30 p.m.
Please call or email if you are interested!

Update 26-Mar-2017:
Thank you very much for your great response! Currently, the 10:30-12:00 workshop is fully booked. If you are interested in this workshop, please let us know. If we get enough people, we may open another session later in the afternoon of the same day (tentatively 2:30-4:00 p.m.).

Gyoza (餃子)are Japanese style dumplings.  Dumplings, of course, have existed in many shapes and cooking styles across Asia.  We hope to introduce you to a typical Japanese way to prepare gyoza.

In the same way that French fries are a sidekick of the fast-food burger here in North America, gyoza normally accompany ramen in Japan. (But we won't be making ramen in this workshop!)  Keep that in mind when planning your next ramen party! :-)

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Workshop Details:

In this workshop, you will learn to prepare the stuffing, wrap and cook the gyoza in the Japanese style.  Be ready to get your hands a little messy!  Of course, you will eat what you make too!  At the end, Ice cream and tea will follow.

Date: Apr 9th, 2017 (Sunday)
Time: 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon.
Venue: the ikebana shop, 6417 Quinpool Rd., Halifax NS

Cost: $15.00 plus HST (total 17.25) per person.  All materials included.

Max 6 persons.  
Advanced booking and payment required. First come, first served!

We will accept bookings by email or over the phone (902-407-0487) but the reservation will be confirmed after payment is made. Payment can be made in person at the shop, over the phone with your credit card, or online via Paypal (let us know and we'll send you an invoice.) 

Our cancellation policy:
Cancel by Apr 6th (Thursday): 50% refund
Cancel after Apr 6th: No refund

Please inform us of any allergies when you sign up.
Note: The gyoza wrappers are not gluten-free.  The gyoza stuffing contains pork.

Hope you can join us!