After the large sculptural piece of last week, this week I have made a work at the other end of the scale. I made this small arrangement for a class in which my teacher set the exercise of, 'an arrangement using chrysanthemums'. I thought about their traditional use in Japan and how well they go with pine. However, I decided to try to create something with a contemporary rather than naturalistic feel.

In this quirky vase, from Mashiko, I arranged pine needles only and then added a single purple chrysanthemum.

I then decided to experiment with the pine needles alone. Using them upside down I created a mass by inserting some first into a kenzan then adding individual clusters (fascicles) of needles in such a way that they interlocked and became self supporting. The blue crystalline glaze vase is by Dean Smith, a ceramic artist from Castlemaine in Victoria, and was a gift from an American friend who also practices Sogetsu Ikebana.

Here it is on the shelf in our living room.

Greetings from Christopher

25th May 2013


A few weeks ago I noticed these dried stems of Echium flowers in a nearby street. With the sun behind them they created a silvery haze. I thought they would look great massed.

This is what the leaf structure looks like.

I gathered some, bunched them together and gave them a little (!) colour treatment. This was because I decided to use them with birch branches in a situation where flowers requiring water would have been difficult and silver with silver would have been very bland. 

Below is the finished work which is my contribution to the Sogetsu School of Ikebana Victorian Branch Member's Exhibition for 2013.

You can see other photos from the exhibition by clicking the highlighted text: Member's Exhibition

Greetings from Christopher
17th May 2013


A couple of weeks ago I needed to cut a branch of a Yate (eucalyptus lehmannii) that was overhanging the roof. The photo below shows the top part of the tree,

Here is a close up of some flowers on the branch in the previous photo. To the upper left you can see an unopened flower with the operculum (the finger-like coverings) still over the stamens.

This is a flower on another branch. I always think they look like a green dish mop.

A few days later we were invited to some friends' house for dinner. I stripped two branches of their leaves, cut the ends so that they would stand when inverted and then removed some of the unopened flowers. I knew the strength of this beautiful material would go well on my friends' sideboard against the textured wall.

On the higher part of the branches you can see the seed pods that form after the flowers have finished.

Greetings from Christopher
12th May 2013


Yesterday I conducted a workshop for members of the Sogetsu School, Victorian Branch. The theme was 'construction techniques' that are useful in ikebana. In the morning session the participants made a three dimensional structure that they used in the afternoon to incorporate into an ikebana arrangement. Below is an example of the use of doweling to secure short lengths of Birch branches the create a small sculpture which then became the focus of the arrangement. I have used this sculpture previously as I made it three years ago.

I also demonstrated the use of doweling as applied to fairly small diameter bamboo. The bamboo is drilled through one side only. To do this I have only allowed a small length of the drill bit to protrude so that it cannot go right through the bamboo as you can see in the photo below. PVA glue is applied to the hole and the bamboo skewer inserted. It is then cut short so that it can then be inserted into a corresponding hole in the piece of bamboo which is to be attached. When they are joined I have allowed a little of the glue to remain on the external surfaces of the bamboo to help secure the join. The two pieces are then temporarily 'clamped' with wire until the glue has set. 

 Below is the equipment. Clockwise from the right: PVA wood glue, fine toothed hack-saw, bamboo meat-skewer, pliers, wire, hasami (flower scissors), electric-battery drill. The three pieces of bamboo in the centre are fixed in the shape that formed the template of the finished work.

The particular virtue of this fixing technique is that it is invisible and the joined pieces of the structural material are seen just to be touching each other. Also the join is very strong. In the arrangement below I have added lisianthus to make a 'no kenzan' work that has a very fresh light feel.

The framework is made of four 'template' pieces that I have wedged together using two additional lines running horizontally to help stabilise the structure. This means it is able to be taken apart and reused in a different configuration.

Greetings from Christopher.
5th May 2013