By Carol Glassman
Ikebana, the fine art of Japanese flower arranging, is enjoyed all over the world. Rather than putting a bouquet of flowers in a vase and moving the stalks around so that they ‘look pretty’, the student of Ikebana works in a disciplined way to balance blooms, stems, and leaves to emphasize shape, line, and form. It’s a practice that has been evolving for over 500 years, and under the umbrella there are seven main schools of styles: Ichiyo, Ikenobo, Ohara, Saga Goryu, Sangetsu, Sogestu, and Wafu Kai.
At Ikebana International #160 – Naples, Florida, a very active group meets monthly from October to May, offering many different programs and opportunities to learn and create with a mentor at every level. At the October meeting held at Moorings Presbyterian Church (Moss Hall), the topic was Ohara Basics, in a workshop led by member Kay (Kaoru) Sweet. Members were advised in advance to bring “a suiban type container or low bowl, kenzan, clippers, three pieces of long stemmed branch or green leaf material or long stemmed flowers, three more stems of flowers (not large ones like bird of paradise) but something in a smaller size than your longer line material” if they wished to participate in the workshop that followed.
Instructor Kay Sweet was born in Tokyo, Japan, surrounded by family members who appreciated Ikebana, particularly the Ohara School. As a youngster Kay was more drawn to tennis than the arts. When she returned to Japan after a brief sojourn in the US playing tennis for the varsity team at Arizona State in Tempe and earning a degree in Asian Studies, she realized how little she knew about her own culture. She allowed her mother, who has received the highest degree attainable in the Ohara School, to convince her to enroll.
According to Kay, the Ohara School was started by a young architect and is seen as a less formal method with more freedom of expression, emphasizing the beauty of natural scenery and taking note of the seasons. However, as she demonstrated, there are still ‘rules’. Using a flat container, she carefully measured the first flower stalk before placing it, making sure those that followed were shorter and placed at the correct angle to the first one. The moribana style she showed, unlike the vertical or standing style, used a flat container called a suiban and the flowers were piled-up freely as “filler” in the arrangement. Moribana was the first step and the forerunner in modern Ikebana.
Encouraging students to think of where the arrangement would finally be placed and to step back and critique what they had done, Kay then turned them loose on their own materials and containers and moved among them, answering questions and offering a word of encouragement, a tweak here and there.
All meetings of the Naples Ikebana group are held at the Moorings Presbyterian Church in Moss Hall. Meetings begin at 9 a.m. The public and guests are welcome but an advance reservation is required. Please e-mail them [email protected] to make a reservation. There is ample parking in the church parking lot and no stairs required to get into the meetings.
The November meeting will feature a full Ginza (shop) for Ikebana essentials and member Trady Gurdian will discuss Raku pottery.
For more information, consult the web site at: http://www.ikebananaples.com/About_Us.html