I was able to attend my first Sogetsu ikebana workshop in Maryland in September with approximately thirty other women from the area. The workshop included a demonstration, lesson, and individual critique from Mrs. Mihori, a Sogetsu ikebana teacher of the highest rank. I really enjoyed the experience—learning from Mrs. Mihori as she designed her work and taught techniques and tips for ikebana design in a suiban without a kenzan. As I look back on the experience, there were several key elements that were highlighted that not only applied to the individual theme of the workshop but will also be on my mind as I work on my ikebana designs moving forward in pursuit of my teaching certification in the Sogetsu school.

Structure, balance, and weight are a focal point to start. When working with a suiban without a kenzan, I had to think about the weight of my materials in addition to their own individual balance points before bringing them together into an arrangement in a suiban. Mrs. Mihori highlighted that the structure of the vase coupled with type of balance that could be created by connecting specific elements of the arrangement together using ikebana wire, allowed for the foundation for a successful arrangement. In arrangements that I think about moving forward, I am going to be more mindful of the balance needed not only with the vase but also within the inner structure of the arrangements I create.

Happy flowers are possible. In watching the critiques of the different arrangements created, I noticed a theme of adjusting the flowers to be in a ‘happy’ position. I watched Mrs. Mihori use different techniques to create almost a scaffolding to hold flowers in a position where they were facing up, towards the light—essentially a ‘happy’ place. I can shift my flowers in any arrangement moving forward so they can be ‘happy’.

Ikebana wire has a technique. Mrs. Mihori taught how to use ikebana wire more effectively. I learned how to start with a tight pull with only one twist. I then learned to tighten the wire in a circular direction. The ikebana wire was a great tool and also came in a variety of colors that could blend with the flowers and sticks I was using. In some cases, I used double wire. Moving forward, I can use wire more effectively and minimally if I continue to work on my wire closing technique.

The intention of the line matters. I noticed in the critiques that Mrs Mihori would ask students where the line was intended to be in the arrangement. While you could tell she had an ideal direction, she worked with students wherever they wanted the line to go. I learned from this that the direction and flow (even without movement) of the design was important in learning where to trim down or enhance the arrangement. I will be able to think more about the intention of my lines in my arrangements moving forward.

Depth and height are critical. My arrangement ended up having great height but in the pursuit of a structure that was strong and did not fold, the design became flat. Mrs. Mihori encouraged me to think about how to flip some of the branches to add more depth to my design. I can use this concept moving forward but thinking through the total area of my work and balancing not only structure but height and depth as well in my designs.

Learn more about Sogetsu Ikebana: http://www.sogetsu.or.jp/e/know/about/.

A recap of the event can be found here: http://sogetsudc.org/index.php/past-branch-events-2/.