For the serious ikebana practitioner, a pair of trusty ikebana clippers is an indispensable tool. The clippers are an extension of one's hands. And so, we must treat them like our hands. If our hands are dirty, we wash them. If our hands are wet, we dry them. So must we with our ikebana clippers!
Keep the clippers clean.
Stains from plants, sap from branches, etc... they will stick to your clippers. Accumulated dirt and stains will also hamper the functionality of your clippers.
Clean your clippers after each use. We're not saying that we should emulate the consummate sushi chef who wipes his beloved knife after each slice of fish; but after finishing your arrangement, cleaning the clippers must be automatic. (So is cleaning up your work area, wiping down the table, disposing of unwanted twigs and leaves, etc for that matter!)
Besides, clippers look prettier when clean!
Keep The Clippers Dry
Most ikebana clippers are made with high carbon steel. They are tough and could cut thick branches. But, they are also prone to rust.
After use, you can run some water over your clippers to wash them. The important thing is to dry them afterwards. Use a dry towel to wipe off water. Do not immediately stow them in their case. Make sure they are completely free of moisture before putting them away.
If you are not planning to use your clippers in a while, put a sheen of oil over the blades. Cover every bit of the blades and make sure to put a few drops on the joint and rivets too.
A very short primer on rusting: water+oxygen on steel = rust! Water is the catalyst for the oxidation process that produces "hydrated iron oxide"...a.k.a. rust! Oil and water do not mix. A protective coating of oil stops water from seeping through to the steel. It also protects your blades from the moisture found in the air.
Don't Forget The Small Towel
When practicing ikebana, always have a small towel for your clippers on the table. The obvious reason is so that you can wipe the blades clean any time you need to do so. It also comes in handy to clean up water splashes. But, there is another equally important reason to have the small towel around. Every time you need to put your clippers down, place them gently on the towel...never directly on the table.
The towel muffles the sound when the clippers hit the table. Imagine a roomful of ikebana students, all producing loud clattering noises as they put their clippers down. It is very distracting and disruptive to the serenity of the class. Using a towel to soften the noise is a sign of respect towards your teacher and fellow students. As well, it protects the table from nicks and scratches!
Did you notice that ikebana clippers have a joint that is a bit looser than those of a pair of scissors or even floral clippers? Ikebana clippers also do not have an embedded spring grip that limit how wide you can open it. This is because they are made to cut not only flower stems but also thicker branches. Ikebana clippers are tough and strong. However, there are limits and if the branch is too thick, then better use a bigger tool like a handsaw to cut it. Do not twist the clippers left and right in an effort to sever the branch. This action, done often enough, would loosen the joint too much and damage your clippers.
Also, avoid using the clippers to cut other things other than plant material. Unless your clippers have a wire-cutting notch, snipping floral wires is not recommended.
Let The Pros Do It
As with any blade, ikebana clippers will lose their edge in due course. Ikebana clippers have an asymmetrical bevel. Burr may have to be removed on the other side but actual sharpening should be done only on one side. Incorrect sharpening will change the original grind and will affect the functionality of your clippers. If you are not sure how to do it, then just let a professional blade sharpener do it. And if you need to find one in Halifax, click here!
We all know that serious ikebana practitioners always have their clippers handy. A simple clipper cover is convenient and easy to use. It will protect you from injury and your bag's contents from damage.
A good pair of ikebana clippers will last a long time. Through years of constant use, they will lose their lustre in parts. They might even gain a few hard-to-remove stains. That means those clippers are slowly getting their unique character and soon they will become like an old friend and trusty companion. So let's make sure we show our clippers tender and loving care!