Sunday, December 25, 2016

Festive Mood of Christmas - our December workshop

December 19, 2016

The meeting began with Sensei Malathi requesting a minute’s silence in honour of our late Chief Minister Selvi Jayalalithaa and noted that she had been a strong person and capable leader.

It has been a  difficult month for Chennai, what with the CM's demise being followed by the devastation of Chennai's green cover by cyclone Vardah which caused so many of the city's old and loved trees to be uprooted.

So it was with relief to look to our Ikebana to change the mood and welcome the festive season. Some members arrived late due to heavy traffic and were welcomed by an array of colourful arrangements. They lost no time in getting down to business and completing their work.

“Tis the season to be jolly”…yes, Christmas is round the corner and what better way to end the year!
The theme of the last workshop of 2016 was Christmas as a celebration or as an art, using the festive colours of red, white and green. 14 members were present and there was a true festive air.

Sensei Dally Verghese began the session with her arrangements and later spoke briefly about her experience with Ikebana. Always preferring to work quietly in the background,  she had never imagined  talking in front of a  gathering. She acknowledged that learning Ikebana from Mrs. Malathi had enabled her not only to learn the art form but to overcome her inhibitions and address the group.

Sensei Dally displayed three very creative pieces-- the first was a burst of colour in a brick red nagiere vase with pine,  red carnations and white chrysanthemums in abundance.

Dally's Christmas celebration

Hope in a branch-- from cyclone ravaged Chennai

The second piece was a beige wooden base and vase, red and white flowers and bottlebrush leaves. The highlight was an elegant curved branch which Dally said she picked up from the IIT campus after the cyclone. It was a fitting tribute to Chennai’s spirit of survival in the face of crisis.

Sensei Malathi pointed out Dally’s innate aesthetic sense and eye for beauty and said this arrangement was  beautifully coordinated in terms of the colours of materials used. The tender green leaves showed hope, she added. 

Dally's impromptu piece, inspired by a tree

A simple flat vase showcased a trio of red anthuriums with leaves from a plant that Dally said she found in a nursery and appealed to her.

It was time for the workshop, and the members' interpretation of Christmas was innovative and exuberant.


Sensei Prerana used the humble banana leaf to good effect

Pushkala made this container with coconut shells and spathe. Tender leaves and flowers
with chrysanthemums and carnations made this perfect for any gala party

The red bottlebrush and green and white caladium leaves
 make up a simple yet attractive piece by sensei Molly 

A Christmas "basket" by sensei Divya, with
 clever use of bent branches for the handle

Sensei Janaki's piece says: "We are ready to hit the dance floor
and start the party!"

Quiet grace and simplicity herald Christmas for Bhuvana

A shaped fan palm forms  a dramatic backdrop for Chitra's piece
 using roses, chrysanthemums and tiny guava fruits and berries 
Sensei  Trishala used a palm leaf to good effect, along with aralia and gerberas

Shylaja used red anthurium sprayed with gold for a festive look,
along with miniatures resembling damsels in frilled dresses


Chelvi opted for Indian Christmas by using driftwood, dried coconut peduncles, 
tender coconut, gypsophilia and decorations for a touch of colour

Chitra Rajan too celebrates post-cyclone Chennai with a beautiful dried branch, 
                   red roses, white chrysanthemums and greens to  convey the colours of Christmas
The workshop ended on a happy note, with Christmas and  New Year wishes and holiday greetings, a promise of many more exciting meetings in 2017.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Celebrating the Emperor's birthday with Ikebana

The celebratory arrangement done by Malathi sensei on Dec 1st, on the occasion of the Emperor's birthday.  Chrysanthemums, so dear to the Japanese, are combined with Ixora, in a traditional Indian urali.  She was assisted by sensei Prerana.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Exploring Miniature Ikebana with sensei Prerana - November workshop

November 17th 2016

Sensei Janaki reports: 

The November 2016 demo and workshop in the ABK premises was well attended, with 12 members present. The theme of the day was miniature arrangements. 


Sensei Malathi  mentioned that miniature style was a favourite of Kasumi Teshigahara. It is a very personal style, from the heart and ideal for personal spaces like dressing tables, desks and so on.

Sensei Prerana  gave a demo on Miniatures and shared her experience of attending a class with Mr. Christopher Lim in Singapore earlier this year. She said that was her first exposure to miniatures, and enabled her to gain a proper understanding of this. 
The key points are that the container should be small enough to fit into one’s palm, and the materials used should not be overpowering. It should be possible to make the same arrangement on a larger scale.


Sensei Prerana did ten arrangements with a variety of vases and flowers, each one a beauty to behold and conveying her energy and creativity. Her vibrant narrative and efficient work kept us engrossed, like a drama unfolding on stage.



A brass cup with coloured stones serve as a base for this piece
Prerana used the materials to maximum effect and created a spectrum of styles from shy, delicate to bold and energetic.
A dash of pink and green shows the hope of spring
Sensei Prerana created a breezy, outdoor effect with the yellow ceramic dish,  fresh greens and gypsophilia
Sensei Prerana used a single red anthurium to add colour to the aesthetic vase and base that were beautiful on thier own.
Another striking piece by Prerana sensei
The bright yellow chrysanthemum with curled palm leaf and gypsophilia was her choice for this timeless ceramic vase
The perfect miniature, using a diya and a single flower with a tiny wooden base.
Trimmed draceana leaves echo the light violet chrysanthemums in a black ceramic vase
Wooden chopsticks glued together formed a delicate lattice for this piece  with just a single chrysanthemum for colour


The workshop on the same theme was equally engaging and everyone presented unique and appealing pieces. The air of seriousness was akin to an exam and at the end, a joy to see the completed miniatures. The variety of vases and other objects deftly used as containers was an eye opener. 



A dainty glass vase with pretty pink antigonon heightened the effect of this piece by Chelvi



Bhuvana used a palm to symbolise a peacock, and her second piece was in a small urali

Chelvi used a brass shell to advantage with just a couple of blue daisies

Chitra Thiagarajan used pieces from a tea set that were ideal for the workshop theme


Dessert cups with artistically curled leaves and yellow roses that perked up the composition by Divya

Divya chose a tiny pomogranate from her garden for this composition in a blue-green ceramic vase.

Malathi sensei used twin ceramic vases that stood out with ixora leaves, berries and a hint of lavender.

Sensei Molly used a white soup bowl with dianthus, tulasi leaves and Chinese bamboo for refreshing look

Pink zerbera was a  perfect choice for  Roopa, to go with this black vase, with a single green leaf and gypsophilia.

Shylaja offset the deep blue vases with yellow chrysanthemums and blue daisies, with touches of green

Sensei Trishala created  a fairytale effect with pretty colours and a unique woven coffee pot that reminds her of relaxed mornings with hot  coffee.  Minimal use of materials highlight the vases.



Sensei Trishala

The small kettle - sensei Trishala

Another one by Chelvi

Another one by Roopa
Bhuvana's minature, up close
sensei Janaki's trio of miniatures

Another one by Divya

Chelvi experimented with a candlestick holder and cassia flowers.....

..... and a small fruit bowl,

...as well as these coffee cups with complementary colours.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Montessori school workshop

Sensei Janaki has begun a Ikebana workshop for children, and here is her account of it.  The workshop started on October and will go on until December.


"A casual mention that I am an Ikebana teacher got the attention of my dear friend Mrs. Bhavani Kumar who runs Patasala Montessori School in Chennai.  She had been looking for someone to conduct floral based activities for children and thought introducing children to Ikebana would fit the bill.

The "kit"
This program is part of a series of life skill workshops that encourage the work of the hand. As Maria  Montessori said: "The hand is the tool for intelligence". These workshops usually involve learning skills that are useful in daily life. The school invites passionate resource people to come in and share their expertise. In the end the children absorb more of the passion and inspiration than the techniques themselves.

A couple of months of planning and preparation and the workshop took off on October 21, 2016, with seven students of age 7 to 10 years. It is spread over eight sessions, every Friday from 1 to 2.30 pm. The children have their own complete kit of suiban, a small vase, cutters, floral foam, a bowl, water tubes, napkin, and a cane basket to keep all the things in, besides introductory notes.

The highly interactive workshop includes an introduction to Ikebana, basic upright and slanting styles as well as lessons on using different containers and material, and for festive occasions. Each session comprises a demo of the day’s lesson; children will then do a piece on their own and record their observations either in writing or drawings. The concluding session will see children making their own piece independently and open to parents to view them.

The students’ curiosity, quick perception and learning skills are amazing.  Even as I began on my piece, they observed that the stems formed a triangle at the base as well as at the top. The calmness and natural look of the piece appealed to them, and even said it resembles a pond and colourful plate of food –think Masterchef!

The joy with which they participate is infectious and inspiring. Many thanks to Bhavani and the school for this opportunity.  Looking forward to many more such events and many thanks to Malathi sensei and all my Ikebana friends for their guidance and support."