Two weeks ago I held this year's first class for my Melbourne students. I had set the senior students the exercise of making a 'Mazeshashi' arrangement. Traditionally this arrangement of a variety of materials was done in Autumn, principally using grasses. The aim is for a full, but light arrangement with a greater colour palette than is usual.

Robyn was particularly concerned to pay attention to the space within her arrangement. 

Unfortunately, in both of the following photos there is distortion of the image caused by the foreshortening effect of the camera.

Margaret's starting point was the white Cosmos from her own garden. She kept the arrangement light to complement the delicate turquoise of her vase.

Helen paid particular attention to the variety of texture in her work. Unfortunately, the photo's foreshortening effect exaggerates the size of the leaf on the right front. 

Kyoko's arrangement was 'Taking into account the colour of the vessel'. She massed  anthurium on the right and balanced them with a line of rose-hips extending to the left.

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Last Monday, the first meeting for 2018 of the Victorian Branch of the Sogetsu School was held. Lara Telford lead a workshop on the theme of 'The Essence of Creativity', which is number 48 of Sofu Teshigahara's 
50 Principles of Ikebana. 

Lara asked us to draw a sketch of our proposed arrangement using familiar materials. I used Costal Sword Sedge Lepidosperma gladiatum, which can be arranged into beautiful curving lines, like the example below.

At the workshop, Lara then asked us to change the way we worked and use the familiar material in an unfamiliar way. This idea, from the 50 Principles of Ikebana, is to take us beyond the familiar and what we know works to make some new discovery. It is by doing something unfamiliar that we can truly become creative. 

In taking up the challenge I realised that I had never concertinaed this material by making closely spaced folds. The zigzagging lines looked interesting; however, they had no structural strength and could not support their own weight. I therefore needed to use some straight leaves as the support through which I  threaded my newly created wiggling lines. A single oriental lily was added as a focus. 

More photos from the Sogetsu Branch workshop.

Greetings from Christopher
26th February 2018


At my class in Torquay this week, my student Leonie created an ikebana arrangement on the theme: 'Memories of Summer Holidays'. I must say I really enjoy this theme as the variety of interpretations is so great and also very personal.

This is Leonie's work, a simple arrangement reflecting the south-coast environment using driftwood and some green Amaranthus. She has slanted the amaranthus capturing the feeling of the prevailing westerly winds experienced on the coast. By extending the driftwood beyond the vessel the arrangement conforms to the exercise: 'Incorporating the area around the vessel'.

Last Tuesday, the Melbourne Chapter of Ikebana International held its first meeting for 2018. The theme for the meeting was also the same one: 'Memories of Summer Holidays'. Below are four arrangements that particularly caught my attention because of the surprising idea that was the inspiration for each work. 

This is by Lara Telford, who had returned from 3 months in Tokyo at the Sogetsu Head Quarters to find that her garden had become a 'jungle' through which she had to carve a path to the front door. 

Beverley Webster was very pre-occupied over the summer with the 're-stumping' of her house. She incorporated one of the jacks used to lift the house and an intense blue hydrangea that kept her spirits up during the process.

Lucy Papas remembered her holiday to the Maldives and in particular the beautiful scenes of colourful corals under the water.

Chieko Yazaki remembered summer camp holidays of her childhood. Her cheerful arrangement represents the joy of children playing around a pool in the warm days of summer.

There were more arrangements which can be seen at this link, Ikebana International Melbourne.

Greetings from Christopher
17th February 2018


The beginning of 2018 is turning out to be an exceptionally busy time. Among other things, on the ikebana front I have been involved in preparations for a forthcoming exhibition by members of the Ikebana International Chapter which will take place in March.

Continuing on from last week's theme of first classes for 2018, my student Val made her first arrangement using a 'vertical fixture' in a nageire style vase. That is a tall, straight-sided vessel. This is a challenging style and to reduce the stress we started with the 'slanting' version which is a little easier. 

In a 'slanting' arrangement the longest line (Shin) is leaning at a 45 degree angle. In this case coming forward of the vase toward the left side. The vertical fixture within the vase is not visible and has the function of holding the stem firmly in place so that it does not rotate.

My own ikebana this week returns to an earlier theme, that of the material Moonah melaleuca lanceolata, which I dealt with two weeks ago. 

Some of the flowers I had gathered back then held together without dropping for several days. I teamed them with some white spider chrysanthemums in a blue vase. The vase is by Mark Bell, a ceramicist working in Maine USA. 

Greetings from Christopher
11th February 2018


In this part of the world a new year of ikebana has begun, and life will soon become very busy. I have enjoyed the summer break which has allowed me to spend some additional time in the garden. Firstly, keeping it alive through the hot dry weather and, secondly, re-potting and planting things in the conservatory that had become overgrown.

I held my first classes for the year last Thursday and it was good to see familiar faces and some new ones as well. The new students were made welcome by the advanced students who shared advice about where to find branch and other materials for classes. I had set some students the exercise of making an arrangement expressing their 'summer holidays'. 

Leonie made this light open arrangement with one of the agonis shrubs from Western Australia. She said it grows beside the driveway and was in need of pruning as it had grown so well in the past few months. Leonie has added a small group of Lisianthus, Eustoma, at the base as a focal point.

Val has used some dried grass flower heads, geranium and yet-to-open white 'wind flowers', all representing the red, green and white colours of her Christmas celebration. To these she has added the additional elements of summer fruit and a champagne flute.

Kim's work reflected his summer walks with his dog on the beach. On the bottom of a clear glass vase he has placed a water-worn stone, that seemed to float above the base; the inner bones of two cuttlefish suspended between the sides of the vase; and a branch that had washed up on the beach.

My own ikebana is a Basic Upright moribana. This is the first exercise in the Sogetsu curriculum, which I demonstrated to the new students. I have used an unknown woody weed and yellow roses in a blue ceramic suiban. For all its simplicity, this foundational arrangement has an elegant and fresh appearance.

Greetings from Christopher
3rd February 2018