Sunday, May 8, 2016


Last week I took an Ikebana workshop with my husband and mother-in-law through our county park system. Ikebana is a Japanese art of flower arrangement. I still couldn't tell you much about it, but Wikipedia does a great job. 

It was held at our favorite park, Deep Cut Gardens, and I think I signed up for it because I was hoping it would take place in their magical greenhouse (it wasn't). But I find floral arrangements to be one of the great pleasures of life, along with watching a baby nap, sheet cake that's better than it needs to be, falling asleep on the couch, and The Met. Plus, I'm always looking to add to my bag o' tricks.

Once we arrived, I was excited to learn a different approach to flower arrangement that uses materials, shapes, and proportions uncommon to the Western style. All my arrangements tend to look the same. I do a lot of round stuff with one kind of flower. Any time I diverge from that, it gets awkward. 

We each made an arrangement, and mine was OK. To be honest, I'm not sure I know good or bad yet, it's so foreign to my eye. I'm not a natural minimalist, and I didn't think my materials vibed together all that well. I wasn't sure if I'd do it again by the book, but I was inspired to try again with plant materials from our yard.

So today, after Mother's Day brunch, the babe was napping, the mister was mowing the lawn, and Pip and were looking for something to do to pass the time until our next meal. (Why not put it bluntly.) She came with us to the Ikebana workshop and was eager to try her hand at making her own arrangement. We took clippers outside and found a ton of good stuff to use. 

I gave her a traditional vase and I used a wide, shallow bowl more typical of Moribana (the style of Ikebana we "learned" -- that's a stretch). We had two colors of Japanese maples, azaleas, lilacs, and Japonica. There are a lot of specifics to the proper placement and geometry of the branches in Ikebana (refer to our handout up top), but I despise following instructions in all circumstances except when giving my children medicine, so we wung it. Basically: tall thing, slightly less tall thing, wide thing out to side, something protruding toward you, something heavy down low to anchor it. This is probably blasphemy but I find it works.

Mama Ikebana
Pip took a more maximalist approach and made the most beautiful arrangement I've ever seen (I'm not exaggerating because I'm her mom). I'm telling you, you'd have to pay $130 in Brooklyn for this thing. It is hauntingly beautiful, and all from found clippings in our yard. I would have been hard-pressed to summon the freedom to make something so luscious and exuberant and great.

Pippa Ikebana
It's something I've noticed whenever she paints too -- she has an innate understanding of beauty. It's direct, it's colorful, it's free, and she knows exactly when to stop. Picasso said, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up." Kids. You learn something from them every day, if you pay attention.


On a side note, the babe is ten months today! She has her bottom right front tooth, and all the others seem to be just below the surface. She loves to eat real food (clementines! ricotta! meatballs! banana!). She isn't quite crawling forward yet, though she just figured out how to get over her other leg, and she loves to do "So big!" and clap for herself. She says "da da" all the time, and yesterday she said "Pippa" (we both heard it). So far she has no interest in saying "Mama" -- not even for Mother's day.

1 comment:

Tulipop said...

I'm so intrigued about this floral arrangement technique! So cool! So happy to see these pics and happy 10 months Margot! That is one peaceful sleep she is having there :)