• Louise Worner

A Listening Challenge



No matter which school of ikebana you follow, at some point in time, your teacher will remind you to ‘listen to your material’. In doing so, teachers are encouraging their students to study their material carefully. Rather than fighting against their material, ‘listening’ creates a path of least resistance. It enables students to create ‘intuitive’ arrangements that acknowledge the material, over the ‘will’ of the arranger.


Examining the leaf

Eager for my daughters to develop a deep appreciation for all plants, I decided to encourage

them to listen to their material, carefully examining their shapes, forms, colours and movement. As we continue our lockdown, and weeds are in abundance, we took another walk along the bike path near our house to collect material for ikebana.


Required materials

My youngest daughter pleaded with me for, ‘no rules’, to which I was more than happy to oblige. There were ‘no rules’ in this lesson, only ‘challenges’ - to use two kinds of material and to listen. For my daughter, the hardest part of the challenge was not to talk, but to listen. The aim of the challenge was to carefully listen to their material and focus on what they thought was the most interesting part of the plant.


Adding the first leaf

My youngest daughter chose two large leaves as she liked their shape and movement. After

examining her material, she decided that they looked the best standing upright.


Adding the second leaf

Once she had decided on the best angle of the leaves, she chose a vase. She used a kenzan inside the vase to fix her material.


Adding a flower

After much deliberation on her second kind of material, she chose a long stem of rapeseed blossoms as she decided the yellow of the blossoms provided much needed colour to the arrangement.

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