Friday, February 17, 2017

Creativity on the Spot

February 10, 2017

"What's in store for me?" Members eagerly look for their lots
This was a workshop with a twist—not theme based as always, but grew out of  Mrs. Padma Swaminathan’s idea of exchanging vases. It was decided that flowers and greens too would be exchanged and this suggestion was welcomed by all.  In most workshops the theme is fixed in advance, and members have ample time to plan the arrangement. But today the challenge was to create something from an unknown set of materials. Once everyone had assembled, the materials were numbered,  lots picked and all good  to go. 

Eleven members were present and  it was good to have Ambika in our midst again, as she had been unable to attend a couple of earlier workshops .
Sensei Padma works her magic

Mrs. Malathi Pandurang began with a brief introduction of Sensei Padma,  who also demonstrated on-the-spot creativity,  arranging in  a deep brown ceramic vase, yellow and red gerbera and local green material. A single brown twig curving downwards created an expanse of space in this eye catching piece.
A close up of her finished piece,
evoking freshness and summer days

Sensei Padma's work
   Fresh and dried material come together in perfect harmony
in the experienced hands of Sensei Padma Swaminathan
Sensei Padma combines angles and curves
 with colour for this piece using two kenzan
A dramatic silence pervaded the room as members first observed the materials put together by others and pondered over how best to showcase them. Prerana said she had a feeling of going for an exam as she had to use materials not planned by her but by someone else!

An army green suiban, matching leaves and yellow roses inspire Sensei Janaki
to recreate spheres with roses and the two halves of the palm leaf
The end result was beauty and creativity that was truly inspiring and led us to believe that it is possible to rise up to any challenge if it is approached with an open mindset. As the proverb goes: " A picture is worth a thousand words" and so, here goes!
Chitra Rajan uses two kenzan to create this piece-- "In Conversation", 
using trimmed palm leaf and gerberas blending with the green vase 


The use of dried material by many members is a tribute to the faith of Chennai in the aftermath of cyclone Vardah, that this too shall pass and we will move forward again. 
Yellow chrysanthemums and dried branch show
 line and mass in this piece by Sensei Dalley.







Sensei Prerana contrasts the glossy black vase with fresh white
 and orange carnations and Chinese bamboo for a sense of drama


Sensei Molly uses this unusual ceramic vase
to spread joy with carnations and ixora


Chitra Thiagarajan contrasts the square suiban with curved lines and draceana leaves, the bright orange gerberas perking up the arrangement 
Sensei Meenakshi chose  a vantage point the for the coconut  stem.
Surface and mass create a breezy outdoor effect


Sensei Malathi's suiban resembles sea foam--a light base for
the strong surface of moneyplant leaves, with pretty pink
carnations and dried branch


Yellow seems to be the colour of the day, and Sensei Ambika
creates  a summerscape with earth coloured wooden suiban, chrysanthemums and local greens
It was an enjoyable experiment, and sure to be repeated!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Harvest Season--Harbinger of Hope - Morimono workshop


January 23, 2017

January is a month of celebrations, with the festivals of Pongal, Shankranthi, Lohri, Bihu, among others, celebrated across India. It is a  season of plenty, marked by good food, colourful kolams/rangoli, family time, traditional dances and sporting events. In keeping with this, the theme of the  first workshop of 2017 was Harvest.

The day started as usual.  The pro-jallikattu protests in Chennai had entered the sixth day, unprecedented in the city's history  both due its peaceful nature and participation of people irrespective of age, gender, caste and any other distinction.

However, just as we were patting ourselves on our back, things took an ugly turn, and road blocks, arson, protests and traffic jams were reported from all corners of the city.   This did not deter our members from setting out of their homes. Many were stuck in traffic and finally eight members were able to attend the workshop. As an exception due to circumstances beyond our control, Bhuvana and Chelvi  made the arrangements at home and sent in pictures.

 Sensei Meenakshi Sarin demonstrated three pieces on the day's theme. 


Sensei Meenakshi - Her arrangement using fresh turmeric roots denoting auspiciousness, sugarcane and yellow flowers for prosperity, set the mood for celebration.

Farm animals are decorated with bright  paint on their horns, and colorful garlands around their necks. Meenakshi found a unique piece of driftwood during her recent travels, and has used this, along with red and yellow flowers, to symbolise the worship of the animals that help in agriculture.


The second composition by Sensei Meenu.
The third piece by Sensei Meenakshi conveyed the simplicity of the Japanese food plate, a work of art in minimalist style. 



The third harvest composition by sensei Meenu
The members then went on to create morimono pieces, using  fruits, vegetables and flowers. Morimono has been part of the Japanese harvest festivals and is derived from the Japanese words  moru, "to heap up" and  mono "thing"--and denotes heaped up things. There is, however, a method to this, and the piece should convey a meaning or story. It may be simple, minimal or denote abundance and joy. The unique aspect of each material used should be the focal point of this arrangement. 



Sensei Malathi used a tall transparent nageire vase filled with wheat grains, topping it with a single yam to show harvest and beautifully curving leaves, conveying earthiness and new beginnings.




Sensei Padma used simple bamboo baskets with fresh carrots and tomatoes, heralding the harvest season. The yellow orchid --Dancing Lady-- shows bounty and used on auspicious occasions. The purple orchids brighten up the whole arrangement.  

A fresh frond of coconut flowers in a copper pot, sitting on  a paddy-filled ceramic suiban--these materials are an integral part of any auspicious occasion. Divya brings them all together to create  a simple yet striking festive mood.


Sensei Divya - coconut frond



Chitra Rajan used a green pumpkin, hollowed out to create a vase, and the dark suiban  showcases the bountiful vibrancy in harvest colours.  Red and yellow enhance this effect.


A still life painting, no less, is how the piece by Chitra Thiagarajan may be described. A white bamboo tray is a perfect base for this work that harmonises abundance, colour,  aesthetics--all that morimono stands for.


Sensei Prerana  used a traditional "moram" as the base and painted it green to echo the harvest colours. A black ceramic vase kept flat made an interesting contrast for brinjals and corn cobs. Ornamental pineapple and flowers complete the festive look. 

Bhuvana, having got stuck in traffic, was unable to attend the workshop, and sent in a picture of her morimono done at home. She chose a traditional brass pot used during Pongal celebrations, with gourds,fruits and dry materials to portray  Ganesha--lord of plenty and prosperity.

Chelvi too was in the same predicament and unfazed by the situation, came up with a lovely piece and sent in pictures. She used a small cane basket as the base for a yellow pumpkin, sliced open to double as a container. Contrasting fruits, roots and greens convey a deep connection with Mother Earth and its simplicity speaks volumes. 


Chelvi's composition - yellow pumpkin denotes the harvest season. It's open to indicate the innumerable opportunities that opens up in life. Apples that add colour and chillies that add spice to life, of course



Sugarcane, "moram" and ixora greens are  Molly's choice for her Pongal themed arrangement. 

It was a day well spent, celebrating Nature's gift to us, and conveying this through Ikebana is a truly creative process. We are happy to share this with our readers and look forward to many more exciting workshops in the coming months.

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.


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. 




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.

Caladium and bottle brush flowers and leaves are
 Molly's choicefor bringing out the coulours of Christmas


Prerana has used the banana leaf surface to advantage.
A single gerbera adds contrast

Chitra creates drama with a fan palm leaf,
 red chrysanthemums and whilte roses

Pushkala's work is vibrant and welcoming,
in keeping with the celebration mood

A Christmas "gift basket" by Divya, a wooden stem
quickly turned into the handle

Simple elegance is Bhuvana's choice
for this fresh, breezy piece


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


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 
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.