Keikos Ikebana: A Contemporary Approach to Japanese Flower Arranging


You might be wondering what on earth a review of Keikos Ikebana is doing on a website about beading…

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Is it an attempt to cover all Japanese crafts (reference my recent review of this Kumihimo book)?

Keikos Ikebana, book review by Katie Dean, My World of Beads

Actually, no. Keikos Ikebana is an important book in my own beading collection. You may already know me for my French beading. Well, I find that Ikebana is perfect for arranging French beaded flowers! So, I have a small collection of books about Ikebana. These sit alongside my French beading books and I often use the two together.

So, let me share this particular book with you all.

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What is Ikebana?

This is a traditional Japanese art of flower arranging. It literally means ‘bring life to flowers’.

The craft has a long history, dating back to Kyoto. Initially, it was an art practised by monks and the aristocracy. The earliest practise grew from offering flowers to Buddha at the temple.

As with any other traditional art or craft, Ikebana has evolved through the centuries. Influences from religion, society and politics have all shaped the way in which it has grown.

Today, it is still taught in specialist schools around Japan.

About the Author

Keiko Kubo is a well-known, respected master of the traditional art of Ikebana. She has developed a style that combines traditional Ikebana with Western influences.

Keiko’s style remains true to the Ikebana aesthetic of using very few flowers in an arrangement. This is what makes it so great for using with French beading.

Why I love Keikos Ikebana

As I mentioned at the beginning, I am known in the beading world partly for my French beading patterns.

Once I had accumulated a collection of French beaded flowers, I began to wonder about turning them into flower arrangements. Now, beaded flowers are quite heavy. So, they aren’t ideal for the kind of densely packed Western-style arrangements in vases.

I did a bit of research and stumbled upon Ikebana. This is perfect because it uses just a few flowers to create a display. It is also very much about geometry, lines and style. So, as the French beaded flowers are on wire stems, they lend themselves to ‘sculpting’ into this style of arrangement.

I invested in a few books about Ikebana to try and understand something of its principles. Then, I began applying those ideas to create my own style of arrangements which I sold at craft fairs.

Now, I particularly love Keiko’s book because it starts with chapters to explain the basic principles. It talks about the kinds of vases (and other vessels) that are appropriate for creating flower arrangements.

Keiko then goes on to showcase some of her designs, each with a list of materials. Finally, you get 20 arrangements that are created in step-by-step form. So, you actually learn how to create these for yourself.

Obviously, the theory was perfect for me to apply to my French beaded flowers. But this is a fabulous book for anyone learning with real flowers. Even if you have never made a flower arrangement in your life, Keiko guides you through with skill, so you can achieve this.

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I am linking to Keikos Ikebana book – and other great Ikebana books – on Amazon. I do receive a tiny percentage from them for any purchases you make by following these links. But this book is also one that I personally own and love, so the views expressed here are my own opinion of this beautiful book.

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