Zen and the Art of Ikebana
By Niree Noel
A simple scene from our Secret Supper at Fulton Fish Market. February 2017
For 2017’s wintry Secret Supper, set in the pristinely renovated Fulton Fish Market at South Street Seaport, stylist Nikki Pettus followed the traditional Japanese art of ikebana to create standout centerpieces. A classic illustration of finding mindfulness in minimalism, ikebana flower arranging requires focus, attention, and intention. Nikki says: “In any floral arrangement, you have to think about balance. But it’s particularly important in ikebana, because you actually have to find the balance so the entire thing doesn’t topple over. Every single stem matters.”
Herein, Nikki tells us exactly what we need to make our own at-home ikebana creations.
A shallow vessel. “This can be anything from a cereal bowl to a handmade concrete dish to your grandma's antique glass compote.”
A kenzan, aka flower-frog.
Shears. “Mine are a eucalyptus-sap covered pair of ARS floral pruners.”
An assortment of flowers, branches, and grasses.
1. Place kenzan in the vessel. Fill vessel with water until kenzan is completely submerged.
2. Take a minute to appreciate your creation-to-be, and thank your materials for facilitating this moment of meditation.
3. When you feel sufficiently inspired, choose three stems of varying lengths that will be the arrangement’s focal points. The longest, 'shin', represents heaven. The medium, 'soe', represents man. The shortest, 'tai', represents earth.
To determine the proper lengths of your shin, soe, and tai, add the height and width of your vessel. Your shin will be around three times the length of this number, your soe two-thirds the length of your shin, and your tai two-thirds the length of your soe. If math isn't your strong suit, though, feel free to throw all that technicality out the window and wing it!
4. Trim selected blooms to desired length bluntly, instead of on the diagonal, to allow for easier insertion into the kenzan.
5. Keeping an asymmetrical triangle in mind, place your shin at the 10 o'clock position of your kenzan, leaning slightly away from you. Place your soe at the 8 o'clock position of your kenzan, leaning slightly towards your left shoulder. Place your tai at the 4 o'clock position of your kenzan, leaning slightly towards your right shoulder.
6. Now that you have your base complete, it’s time to get creative with the additional blooms. Keep in mind that negative space is your friend–allowing each piece to shine will create a more compelling, dynamic arrangement.
Et voilà! Remember to water your masterpiece daily.