Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ohara School - by Dr. Nadia El Borai

In last week's Happy Monday email, I wrote:

"Lately I went through a very interesting and beneficial learning process. I developed tenosynovitis, the result from incorrect way to use mouse. I am learning ergonomics knowledge to do everything right and I have shared the knowledge with some of my friends who suffer the same.

This reminded me my ikebana. I have tried to apply what I learned from ikebana into my daily life. In ikebana, I always ask myself what is the role of a flower/branch in the arrangement. If it is not contributing to the arrangement, I would remove that flower or branch from the arrangement. I realized that I did not apply the principle when I used computer. I used my fingers to pitch the mouse, my small fingers were in the air a lot, my index figure lifted high in the air as long as my hand was on the mouse. All those actions over excised the muscles for no reason, but caused the injury. I also used my wrist to move the mouse instead of using the whole arm.

In the past few weeks I was very careful for my postures. A week ago, I started to train my left hand to use mouse since I had loaded too much to my right hand in the past (mousing, cutting in ikebana, plus most of the house work). I minimized the computer use, stopped practicing flute (it caused pain), almost stopped ikebana, took many mini breaks at work and took a day off from work each week, I had physical therapy twice a week ... It is improving slowly. Ikebana and writing are so important for me, I have to have a pair of health hands to do them. In the next few weeks, I will stop Happy Monday/Friday to give my hands more rest in order to have a speedy recovery."

I received many caring emails and phone calls from the readers. Many thank for the caring minds and the supports!

One of the emails was from Nadia, my Egyptian mom. I met Dr. Nadia El Borai at the last day of 2005 Ikebana International Convention in Tokyo, Japan, we were in the same forum discussion group. She served as the president of Ikebana International at the time (the very first Africa president). I told her about the Happy Monday story and she has been HM reader since. We exchange emails in weekly basis, I learned a lot from her and she cares me like a mom. In the email she wrote:

"I am very sorry to hear about your hand and fully understand that you want to take a break. Maybe you do not realize how nice it is especially when like today I was very tired and received your always positive email of Happy Monday. If you like I shall write in my blog and send it to you something about ikebana so that you can have some flower pictures for your friends. I will be happy if you would like to share them.
Take care of yourself and I shall send you something every week so that you can use it if you like without having to write anything."

I did not expect such a sweet offer from her for all of us. Nadia is a scientist and an accomplished ikebana artist. She has different background than me, she would bring in fresh air to Happy Monday and we will benefit from her knowledge and spirit. I happily accepted Nadia's offer.

Here is Nadia's bio:

Nadia El Borai B.Sc. hon (London) M.Sc., Ph.D.

Studied ikebana since 1978, received the flower name Hoga upon completion of the teaching certificate. In 2005 received the First degree of the Master course of the Ohara School of Ikebana, the highest certificate of this school, obtained after a written as well as a practical exam. The first time a foreigner obtained this certification in Japan.

Here is the Happy Monday she wrote for us about Ohara school (that is Nadia's school):

Nadia will write Happy Monday for us in the next few weeks. Please post comment for her if you like her writing.

Enjoy Nadia's arrangement and the post, Happy Monday!

In Friendship through Flowers,

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ikenobo School

Last week several readers pointed out the easy way to identify Sogetsu school is by the materials used. I agree. This week, we will see few pictures from ikenobo school, which is the oldest ikebana school.

In the following links you can learn about the ikenobo school:

Here are three arrangements by the local Ikenobo artists:

The first two arrangements are in traditional style, especially the first one. The third one is in free style, you would notice that the materials are conventional.

Enjoy the arrangements and Happy Monday!

In Friendship through Flowers,


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sogetsu School

I gave a flower talk on Saturday night for the members of American Chinese Cultural Association. They are a group of highly educated and knowledgeable individuals. When the talk ended, they asked if I could critique some of the pictures of ikebana arrangements with them, so they could get a sense of the different school styles, and know what is a good arrangement and what type of mistakes to avoid. Actually, it is not fair to critique the picture instead of the actual arrangement since the arrangement in the picture could be very different from the real thing. One dimension is lost and the viewer can only see the picture from the angle in which the camera sees. When you critique, it is also important to remove the emotion and personal taste, and try to be objective. With that in mind, we studied the pictures together. We had fun together until 11:30pm (the talk started at 7pm).

After we went through some pictures, the audience picked up on the school styles. Often they could give me the school name immediately after I showed a new picture. That gave me an idea for this blog. I plan to give you some typical pictures from one school at a time and later I will give you a quiz to ask you to identify the styles.

In the following links you can learn about the Sogetsu school:

Here are three arrangements by the local Sogetsu school members:

Did you notice anything in common in those arrangements?

Enjoy the arrangements and Happy Monday!

In Friendship through Flowers,


Sunday, August 9, 2009

New "Thing"

If you have been on the Happy Monday list for a long time, you have noticed that I have a collection of things that I use over and over when I need something to go with flowers.

Few weeks ago, my coworker Lydia brought me some bamboo from her garden -- there were two thick stalks and some thin fine ones. The next day I brought flowers from home and arranged with the thick bamboo, but Lydia was out on a business trip and missed the arrangement. She had been curious about how I used the thick bamboo, so I emailed her the picture, but it is always nicer to see the real arrangement.

Those thick bamboo sticks had made into my collection of things; I have some gladiolus in my home now. I will bring them to the office tomorrow and arrange with the bamboo to show her.

Here is the picture of the arrangement Lydia missed:

Enjoy the arrangements and Happy Monday!

In Friendship through Flowers,


Above picture is the arrangement I setup in the office Monday morning. I used those bamboo in the similar way, there are other ways to use those bamboo as well, it depends on the vase and flowers.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Demo by Mami Flower Design

The Sunday two weeks ago I went to see the demonstration by Mami Flower Design. The major character of the Mami school is to use natural support. There is no pin frog in its arrangements. I like the idea and thought their designs are very fresh. Following two pictures are from the demonstration:

Unfortunately, my battery died, I do not have pictures for all eight demo arrangements for you. Myself is not bothered. It is more important to enjoy the arrangements there.

Enjoy and Happy Monday!

In Friendship through Flowers,