工欲善其事,必先利其器 – sharp tools to make quality craft

“工欲善其事,必先利其器” is a Chinese idoiom from the Analects of Confucius. Its direct translation can be
‘To make quality craft, first start with sharp tools “.
I was told since very little that this is the bases for all art. To play music, start with an instrument that is in tune. To write good calligraphy, start with brushes that are well conditioned. While the skills of the craftsman play a big part, the tools chosen are essential for success as well.

The same principle applies to ikebana. You need the right tools (and sharp ones literally) to make arrangements. During the past years in training, numerous times I felt lost regarding the use and the maintenance of these tools. Here in Australia, many new ikebana students are overwhelmed by these unfamiliar objects which otherwise are pretty common things in Japan. I found that there is a lack of English sources about them. And this is my motivation to write a series of articles about ikebana tools. I have not made In-depth research nor with profound knowledge of them, but these articles are merely my own experiences. I hope they will help anyone new to the art to gain some quick understanding on the tools we use.

Let me kick start the series with something “sharp” – the ikebana shears – はさみ、鋏み. The kind of shears that most people use for ikebana are quite “iconic”; very different from the western garden shears in form and operation. Many are still hand forged in a similar way to how samurai swords are made. We will discuss more about these “samurai swords” that fit in a palm next time.

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ASAP Ikebana

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Very often ikebana is misunderstood as an art that is too hard. We often see the elaborate and huge work of the masters and put ikebana in the “too hard” box not realising that ikebana can range from the garden size installation to the “1 flower 1 leave” tea cup arrangement. While a 8 metres installation might takes weeks to plan and days to construct, a tea-cup sized arrangement can be a result of hours of meditation too. But still there is always a challenge to make the what I call the  “ASAP ikebana”- quick arrangement to brighten up your day or a short meditation time for you to take your crowded mind away from busy life. All you need is a few leaves/ branches/ flower(s). I made this after running around to finish the laundry, the pile of dishes in the sink….! And those 5-10min was great – helping me to regenerate! No planning, no sketching- just making use what I’ve picked from my garden. And I must admit I’m lucky to have a pretty good garden to give me at least three different kinds of Japanese maples to start with.

So… What have you got in your garden? What can you make in 5 min? May be your three-days-old vase need rearranging? Or may be you can pick up a mixed bunch from the local fruit shop on your way home after a long day work. Take the challenge and have your mind refreshed….Ah….

川崎景太 オフィシャルウェブサイト

川崎景太 オフィシャルウェブサイト.

What a beautiful site of Japanese ikebana art in the contempory conte doesn’t matter whether you can red Japanese or not; ikebana, like all arts, has an universal language that brings people together.

Kawasaki has also appeared on Japanese TV many times demonstrating ikebana and teaching you how simple it can be though it is a very sophisticated ancient art itself. He has incorporated everyday items like kitchen utensils and even the humble plastic straws to make out standing ikebana that anyone can try at home- making ikebana accessible to everyone.

Look up clips on YouTube now and get inspired today!

Kawasaki 10min ikebana challenge

Web Gallery of Shoso Shimbo

Stressed of for the day?  Click and relax with the beautiful collections of works by Shoso Shimbo, the renowned Melbourne based Ikebana artist.  Not only your can fest you eyes on some wonderful floral artwork of his, you can relax your mind with the soothing music that accompany the web gallery.

Shoso Shimbo – Ikebana Artist – Melbourne.

Check often… Shoso is a very busy artist and he will updates his site!

Keita Kawasaki 10min ikebana

Keita Kawasaki is one of my beloved ikebana artist. His works are always full of surprises for he likes the use of unusal mixture of media with plant materials. Through his art work, he has shown us that ikebana does not limit in the use of plant materials only andthrough combining them with dialy objects in creatativity, artworks of another dimension can be produced. I like this demonstration alot with Keita using daily ojects other than vases to inspire us how ikebana can really be part of daily life!

Ikebana designs in the 21st century

My Mum has spoiled me very much recently by giving me a very early Christmas- the iPad. And ever since then, I’ve been tagging it with me to everywhere I go. Great fun. It does everything I normally do on then laptop. Email, Facebook, and in fact, this blog is written on the official WordPress App! But then, can it help me in terms of ikebana?

Oh yes, it does! Thanks to those great sketching App that is only a few dollars to purchase from the AppStore. Well, I must admit that it look awhile for me to get used to sketching with my finger rather than the pencil, but it is quite satisfying, too.

For example, I was preparing some sketches for a church wedding. I made the sketch with the app ( see above), export the picture into the iPad gallery and put the image into Pages so that I could typed some notes about it. I even put a “reflection” to my image in Pages. Then I sent that with the “quote” that I generated via another app, all in PDF format, in email to the bride! Can’t be easier. I also keep a copy of the PDF in the “cloud” account so that I can access them with my iPhone! Em…. Digital world is interesting, but then I still like my paper sketch pad and my pencils- I guess the feel of pen and paper is hard to be replicate on the iPad.

Simplicity in ikebana

Simplicity in Ikebana

Simplicity in Ikebana

My dear teacher Shoso Shimbo says often,” Keep it simple, keep it simple… so that it will be more effective.”  In ikebana, less and definitely more!  And I used to “trim and trim and trim”- thinking… oh dear there isn’t much there anymore!   But he is right!  Less is more!

I have a very “young” garden and there isn’t much to pick from it.  Often, I found one or two things that I want to bring into the house- and yes, only 1 or 2 things!  Then I realise that the trick is to manipulate and accentuate the strong beautiful parts to make something simple but elegant.  No fuss, No buying extra materials… just one or two pieces, but I must think hard, think hard on what container to use, how to arrange them, where to put the finish work- that will all make a big difference to the end result.

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