A couple of weeks ago Mr Yoshiro Umemura conducted workshops for the Victorian Branch of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana. The first workshop was for practising teachers on the theme of 'one kind of material'. We were all required to use Gymea leaves only. After first creating a work we then were encouraged to re-use the same material to make a second ikebana.

Below are my first and second works from the same two gymea leaves.

Mr Umemura's critique of the second work was that the suiban was too shallow and small for the work.

All of the teachers really enjoyed this exercise and found they took the exploration of the material to a new depth with their second creation. Below are Mr Umemura's two demonstration pieces, the initial work first is followed by his re-working of the same material. 

The theme in the afternoon was to make an arrangement using gymea and monstera leaves only. I used two gymea leaves that I split to make geometric shapes and added half of a philodendron leaf (in the absence of a monstera leaf).

On the following morning we had to exchange materials with other participants and I was given two philodendron leaves, two philodendron fruit and a black vase. The exercise was to deconstruct the material and re-assemble it to make a new ikebana work. Below is one of the leaves in its natural state.

When I looked at the back of the leaf I thought its veins would look good against the black of the vase. I trimmed the leaf leaving some of the veins long so that I could take them around to the back of the vase where I could secure them. I have inverted the fruit into the small off-centre opening of then vase.

Mr Umemura commented that if I had secured the stems at the back of the vase more neatly this would work as an interesting 'arrangement to be viewed from all angles'. Below is the back view of the work, edited from a larger photo of the whole room.

In the afternoon the exercise was 'an arrangement with curved and straight lines'. We were required to exchanged both materials and vases increasing the challenge of the exercise. Below is my work using the straight stems of alstromeria and a single curving flax leaf.

Other examples from the these workshops are on the Victorian Branch website. If you scroll down the page you will find it includes a couple of slide shows of many of the participants' work.

Greetings from Christopher
9th November 2013


  1. Dear Christopher,
    My compliments to your stunning works. This looks like a really stimulating workshop. You got a lot out of these few leaves. It seems you learned some nice techniques too.

    1. Dear Lennart, my apologies for taking a while to respond to you. The workshop by Mr Umemura was really great and enjoyed by everyone. It is certainly an exercise on the theme 'less is more'. Kind regards,

  2. Un trabajo excelente. Me parece muy interesante . Has conseguido dar una nueva dimensión a las hojas sin que pierdan su esencia. Felicidades

    1. Dear Marisa, thank you for your comment. I am please to have been able to share this interesting workshop with you. My colleagues and I really enjoyed Mr Umemura's insights and teachings. Regards, Christopher