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Updated: May 15, 2020

Nageire style ikebana, forsythia, alstroemeria, daffodil.
Nageire style ikebana, forsythia, alstroemeria, daffodil.

Let's continue the deconstruction of an arrangement from an earlier post that illustrates nageire, a style of arrangement featuring a tall vase and no kenzan. If you haven't read it yet, check out the post entitled Why We're Here....

Nageire (aka heika in some ikebana schools) means "thrown in." According to legend, it originated centuries ago when, on a stifling summer afternoon, a bored samurai tossed a few blossoms into a lofty, deep vase across a room. (Something akin to our present day paper-wad pitch into the office bin, perhaps?)

The form can be casual and spontaneous as its name suggests or elegant and elaborate when the mood strikes. At a glance, it may look simple, but don't be fooled. Because no stem rests on the bottom of the vase as in a western floral arrangement, it can be challenging -- ok, even downright frustrating -- but, that's why ikebana, like yoga, is called a practice.

Luckily, a couple of fixtures can be made to help. The first is called tate-no-soegi-dome. It's a split branch set vertically inside the vase. The second is jumonji-dome, a crossbar set just below the lip of the vase.

For the vertical fixture (tate-no-soegi-dome) choose a straight, sturdy branch. Trim to the height of the vase and, using a pruning shear or ikebana scissors (hasami), split from top to center. Do the same with the shin (main branch), then interlock the two. This will give stability and flexibility to the your branches. Further, the angle of the branch can be adjusted and readjusted as needed by resting it here or there against the vase's interior wall. Repeat with the soe (second main branch).

For the crossbar style (jumonji-dome) choose a fresh branch perhaps a quarter-inch in diameter. Cut two equal pieces slightly longer than the inner diameter of the vase. One end of each piece will be flat, the other angled. Press the first crossbar horizontally inside the vase slightly below its rim. Make sure it's angled end is planted firmly against the vase wall. Repeat with the second piece so that the two are at right angles. When done correctly, one should be able to lift the vase using two fingers beneath a sturdy crossbar.

A warning: this can be hard! The branch pieces will be too long or too short. They will break. They will bend. They will sink. You may need to start over again and again. But, nobody said ikebana was easy.

Pull yourself together, ikebana rookie! You'll get there, and you'll be grateful for the journey.

For a wide selection of vases suited to nageire and many other styles of ikebana, please visit my shop, ikebanadreaming, on Etsy.

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