Monday, July 13, 2009

A Fun Day Two Years Ago

This past Saturday afternoon I went to the 17th Annual Palo Alto Clay & Glass Festival, which was presented by the Association of Clay and Glass Artists of California. It is one of the largest in west coast. Many collectors come to the festival each year. I went with two friends and we all had great time.

That reminded me two years ago, I was invited to demonstrate ikebana at the 15th festival. The purpose to have the ikebana demonstration at the show is to give audience some idea to use the containers in order to promote the sale and entertain the audience as well. This type of demonstration is fun and challenge at the same time for the demonstrator. The fun part is that the demonstrator can choose almost any container to use on the day. The challenge is that the demonstrator prepares materials without knowing the container. There is no requirement to give the arrangement to the container owner, however, most of demonstrators avoided to use pin frogs in order to give the arrangements to the container owners. That makes the clay/glass artists happy to lend their containers.

I made seven flower arrangements at my demonstration in less than an hour.

The first container I used was from Bruno Kirk. Bruno lived in Japan for 10 years to learn ceramics. He also took some ikebana classes. His containers are well known among ikebana artists. I love his works. When I went to his booth, I thought to pick up a large tall vase, then I noticed that he had pin frogs. I changed mind and chose a big plate instead and borrowed his pin frogs. I had few large anthuriums and bamboo from the previous week, they fit in Bruno’s plate very well.

In the second arrangement, I used a vase from Linda Mau. I remembered her name years ago when I saw her ceramics kimono. She makes ikebana vases as well, all her vases can be used without pin frogs easily. I chose a black basic one and used bamboo to give support. I inserted some golden astries in one corner, a sunflower in the other corner. The black vase and the yellow flowers made nice color contrast.

In this arrangement, I used the bamboo from my friend Yanping’s yard. Those bamboos were not flexible at all. When I tried to bend them, they broke on me. After I finished the arrangement, I had about 5 broken bamboo sticks. Not to waste them, I decided to use them as the support for the third arrangement. I inserted some baby breath as the filler. The baby breath hideed the bamboo sticks and set the background color for 5 stems of Mickey mouse anthuriums. The vase was made by Hsie who is the teacher at Sunnyvale Community center where I learn ceramics. I own a rice bowl and a cup made by him.

When I received the demonstration invitation, I was especially excited for the opportunity to use some of the very fine glass containers since I do not own any high quality glass containers myself. I found one booth with two vases I love. I had difficult time to only choose one since I wanted to give other artists opportunity. However, when I introduced myself to the owner of the next booth and asked her permission to use one of her glass works, she said no immediately and told me to not take advantage of her. I did not want to leave her with bad feeling, I explained to her that I wanted to help her for the sale. She turned around to give me her back. There was no time to find another glass container, I went back Josh, the first glass artist, and borrowed the other one I liked. Later, when I returned the vases with the flower arrangements to Josh, the woman who turned me down came to me, she told me that she regret and offered the vase. Unfortunately, it was too late. “Maybe next time.” I comforted her.

The first glass container was a large dark blue plate with baby blue center and a gold edge. I used dry wisteria vines from my teacher’s yard to get some lines and placed a sunflower in the middle. I hoped that would catch people’s attention to sale the vase. After all, my purpose to be at the show was to help the artists to sale their works. This arrangement was my own favorite if I chose one among all the seven I did.

The second glass vase was my color. The mouth was dark blue, clear in the middle, and baby blue in the bottom. I inserted few agapanthus flowers into the vase first. Their color matched the baby blue in the bottom and provided support for two dark pink dendrobium orchids, which made perfect color contrast with the blues. They also brought movement to the arrangement.

One week before the show, I received an email from an artist named Dick. In his email, Dick introduced himself and one container. He asked me to make a traditional ikebana arrangement in it. Study the picture, I explained to him that a traditional ikebana flower arrangement would be too much for this vase. The arrangement should be very simple in order to show the vase. When I saw the vase in person, my first thought was to use a pink lily to match the egg white blue glaze and gave some cool summer feeling. Later, I found out that it was perfect size for a piece of agave mericana leaf from my teacher. While I made the arrangement, I told audience about Dick. He used to be a professor in philosophy. He loves ceramics art too much and became a full time potter.

The last arrangement was a big one. A friend brought me some kangaroo paws from her garden the previous Saturday. They were more than 2 meters tall. She had to be creative to fit those into her passage car. I needed tall materials for the show, so I talked to those kangaroo paws. I promised them that I would make them shine at the show if they stayed fresh for the demo. I stored them in my teacher’s studio since it was cooler than my home. When I arrived the demo site in the morning, I found three stems kangaroo paw waiting for me there. Later I found out that were from Irene, my ikebana classmate and my mentor in ceramics.

I could tell the vase was built by slab. The artist, Joe Battiato, explained to me that the vase was glazed with ohata and soda fired to create the special effects. Many of my works were built by slab, I knew it was not easy to build tall slab piece. I pointed it out to the audience.

During the demonstration, I had interactions with my audience. I shared what I know about the artists and how I appreciate their works myself. I also showed the arranging techniques and the tips for taking care of the cut flowers. I found that this was a great group of audience with artistic eyes. For the last arrangement, after I inserted kangaroo paws, I decided to let my audiences lead me to finish the arrangement. They pointed out that I need something to soft the kangaroo paws. So I followed the suggestion to insert some grass. Then I started to insert lilies. For the last lily, I asked audiences where they wanted me to insert, I was not surprised that they had read my mind.

A successful demo is always a good teamwork. My teacher gave me few tips, my friends Chaoying and Sally are not ikebana arrangers and never saw an ikebana demo before, they amazingly assisted me finished seven arrangements in less than an hour. Their husbands were the photographers. My friends gave me materials. Some friends came to the demo and helped whenever they could. Without all the supports, I could not finish the demo. I appreciated all the help and support.

It was a fun day to remember.

Hope you enjoy the pictures and Happy Monday.

In Friendship Through Flowers,



Kelly Erin O'Brien said...

Hi, Kathy!

I really love the second glass vase... very complimentary arrangement and the colors are stunning!

Kelly Erin O'Brien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BeeLee said...

Wow .. what a wonderful experience you have there, and you managed to do them all in 1 hour !!! Amazing .. Thanks for sharing :-)

以柔 said...

Hi Kelly, thank you to drop me comment. Blue is my color too. It just went so well with the pink.

Hi Bee, it was such fun, indeed. Love to share.