Filtering by Tag: ikebana

Exploring Japanese Culture at Ross Creek

Added on by the ikebana shop.

The Ross Creek Centre For The Arts is a not-for-profit organization with the noble mission to provide arts education to youth, nurturing the next generation artists through various programs in performing/visual arts, crafts, and even gardening/cooking! Many professional artists from all over also visit the Centre through their residency/retreat programs. This offers valuable opportunities for the youth to interact with established artists.

Last Sunday (Apr 7th, 2019), the Centre hosted a community event-- Exploring Japanese Culture. We were honoured to present an ikebana demonstration. The beautiful facility is tucked away in a small corner of the Annapolis Valley in Canning, NS, about 1.5 hrs drive from Halifax. For first-time visitors like us, the area felt remote. Would people really go there? Our concern was unfounded! The turnout was great and we found a very vibrant and involved community. The ikebana demonstration was well-received as was the chanoyu (tea ceremony) presentation after us.

Thank you Chris, Ken, Kathleen (wonderful food...and your Japanese cheesecake is to die for!) and the rest of the Ross Creek staff for your very warm welcome! We enjoyed ourselves immensely.


Press Release: Surprise! - An Ikebana Exhibition

Added on by the ikebana shop.

For Immediate Release - Apr 7th, 2019

Surprise! - An Ikebana Exhibition will be held at the Keshen Goodman Library lobby on Mothers’ Day weekend (May 10-12, 2019).

Ikebana is the art of Japanese floral arrangement. This year’s theme is “surprise”. The exhibition hopefully will surprise you with ideas on what you can do with the blooms and branches in your backyard!

This event is part of the 90th anniversary celebration of Canada-Japan diplomatic relations.

The exhibition will be presented by Miyako Ballesteros (Sogetsu School of Ikebana) and her students. Please come and enjoy the ikebana.

Admission is free.

Surprise! - An Ikebana Exhibition

May 10th (Fri) 12 - 5 p.m.
May 11th (Sat) 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. *
May 12th (Sun) 2 - 5 p.m.
*Short live demonstration on Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

At the Keshen Goodman Library lobby. (330 Lacewood Dr., Halifax NS)

We hope to see you there.

Demo At The Mahone Bay Garden Club

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Thank you very much to the Mahone Bay Garden Club for your warm welcome last night!

We were very happy for the opportunity to introduce ikebana to you.  We loved your insightful questions and sharp observations!  We hope you enjoyed our presentation!

Maybe we'll see some of you in our ikebana lessons one day!

Caring For Your Ikebana Clippers

Added on by the ikebana shop.

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.


You wouldn't this to happen to your clippers!

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!

Don't Wiggle!
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!

Cover Up!
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!

Why Get An Ikebana Certificate?

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Most major schools of ikebana (Sogetsu, Ohara, Ikenobo, etc.) will have a certification programme in order to rank their practitioners according to skill and maturity.  

From here on, we will talk about the Sogetsu School because that is where we belong.  

Getting a certificate is not mandatory.  You can still continue with your ikebana studies without them.  So you might be wondering: Is it worth getting a certificate?  

1. Becoming A Teacher
If you plan on becoming an ikebana teacher some time in the future, then you definitely need to get certification...all the way up to getting your Teacher's Diploma 4th grade, which is the minimum rank required in order to teach. Certificates are issued only out of the Sogetsu Headquarters in Tokyo.  When you get your certificate, that means that you are duly registered with Sogetsu Headquarters and they can keep track of your progress.  When the time comes for you to become a teacher, the headquarters will be able to accredit you based on your officially attained levels.

2. Recognition By Others
The teaching curriculum of the Sogetsu School is centralized and governed by the Sogetsu Headquarters in Tokyo.  All Sogetsu teachers use the same textbooks.  In this way, standards are upheld and the skill-set for each rank, whether attained in Tokyo, Toronto or Rome, is kept uniform.  Any Sogetsu teacher will understand what you have been through just by simply knowing your rank.  

This can be especially useful if you have to move and change teachers.  Say you received your First Certificate in Sogetsu (like the one pictured above) here in Halifax.  Then you move to Vancouver but still want to continue your studies. When you find your new Sogetsu teacher and show her the certificate, she will more or less know your skill level. She may ask who your previous teacher was and maybe contact her in order to better understand your training. She may also ask you to create a few test arrangements appropriate to your level.  BUT, you will not have to start from scratch and most probably will simply continue from where you have left off with your previous teacher.

If you want to work as a florist or floral designer and would like your prospective employer to know that you know ikebana, then the certificate would definitely help!  In Japan, people in the floral industry will certainly appreciate the kind of sweat and tears needed to get such certificates!  Outside of Japan, we cannot really say... But compared to the person who claims to know ikebana just because he attended a few workshops, you will surely have better credibility with an official certificate!

3. A Sense of Achievement And Belonging
A certificate tells you that your school recognizes your accomplishment. It also puts you in the company of all the other persons around the world who have gone through the same training.  Even if you do not intend to use the certificate in a practical way, the sense of achievement and belonging it brings could be worth it!

Other points to keep in mind (for Sogetsu School)....

  • Only your teacher can apply for your certification.  You cannot apply for certification by yourself.  Your teacher will decide if you are ready to move up to the next level.
  • Your teacher must be a duly registered member of the Sogetsu Teachers Association (STA) in a teaching capacity.  Every member of the STA will have this ID (see picture above) that displays the member no., name, gagoh and rank. It will also indicate if the member is "teaching" (or "non-teaching"). Membership must be renewed every year.
  • There is an application fee for certification. This fee is decided by Sogetsu Headquarters and not by your teacher.  Your teacher does not get a "commission" from this fee. It is paid to Sogetsu Headquarters in full.  The cost of certification varies according to rank.

One last thought...

Just like learning music, painting, karate or any other art, the practice of ikebana is a life-long process. There is always something new to learn and discover.  The certificates are there to provide milestones in the journey. They may also provide encouragement to strive to become better.  The certificate, in itself, should not be the final objective in the study of ikebana.

We wish you the best in your ikebana studies.  Gambatte kudasai!

Ikebana Workshop At SMU

Added on by the ikebana shop.

About a month ago, we had the opportunity to present ikebana to a class in Japanese culture at St. Mary's University.  A number of students were very interested to learn more and so a hands-on workshop was organized on Nov 15th, 2016.

The students learned about how to view branches and discern the front and back. They also practiced measuring and clipping to gain proper proportions in the arrangement.  It was great to see how seriously they took to the task.  Their attention to detail was commendable.

After the hard work, everyone was happy with their arrangements!  It was indeed a pleasure to study ikebana with the students.  Thank you for being wonderful participants in the workshop!

A big thank you to St. Mary's University President, Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, for his gracious support. And, special thanks to Dr. Alexandre Avdulov of the Department of Modern Languages for organizing everything!

Summer Arts Program 2015

Added on by the ikebana shop.

We have teamed up with some friends to offer the Summer Arts Program for children ages 8-10 years old at the Shambhala Centre!  It will be 5 days of fun, crafts and creativity.  Parents get to see a presentation on the final day.  Space is limited so please register as soon as you can!


Ikebana: the art of Japanese flower arranging,
based on 3 main elements: heaven, human & earth.

Gagaku: Ancient Japanese Court Dance and Music. We learn simple percussion on the drum, and its accompanying dance. The
movements are clear and open.

Calligraphy: disciplines of brushwork moving into open forms. We start with black ink and classical forms and move into color and free forms.

Origami: the art of Japanese paper folding. A great tool in developing spatial reasoning and geometric understanding, origami also teaches patience and concentration.

Etegami: means “picture letter.” It is a picture and a message. There are no rules Just draw and write what you feel in a moment of inspiration.

Bookmaking: each child creates a hand-made book


Miyako Ballesteros is a qualified instructor in the Sogetsu School of ikebana. She owns the ikebana shop (6417 Quinpool Road, Halifax, NS). Miyako is passionate about sharing Japanese culture. Apart from ikebana lessons, she also conducts workshops in origami and etegami at different venues such as her shop studio, IWK, Dalhousie University, Halifax Public Libraries, etc.

Sarah Cox holds a Certificate in the Performing Arts in Dance from Naropa University. She is a long time student of Japanese Court Dance and also studies calligraphy and Japanese Tea Ceremony. She has taught children as well as adults for many years.

Jamie Pratt, Halifax representative of the Japanese Paper Place (Toronto), has long been fascinated by bookmaking arts. Through many workshops and studies she has learned various handmade book techniques and produced her own books.

For further information and registration:
Please contact Jeff Scott at the Shambhala Centre, tel 902-420-1118 ext 131.

P.S. Healthy snacks will be provided but participants are asked to bring their own lunch.