Telling a story with flowers
By COLLEEN ARMSTRONG
Islands Sounder Web site editor, Editor
Apr 13 2010, 1:39 PM
In the west, flower arranging is all about color mass.
In Japan, it’s just the opposite.
Ikebana, the Japanese art of arranging flowers, is about simple lines with a focus on one or two elements. It’s an art form where the empty space is just as important as the full space.
Orcas writer Joan Stamm has studied and practiced Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, and underwent years of ikebana instruction in Seattle. She has written about her experiences in a new book that is part memoir, part Buddhist philosophy, part rumination on the spiritual essence of nature. “Heaven and Earth are Flowers: Reflections on Ikebana and Buddhism” also features color images of her designs, which have been on display at flower shows throughout the northwest.
“Ikebana means ‘living flowers’ or ‘making flowers come alive,’” Stamm said. “The simplicity of design is a main principle. And there is a lot more symbolism involved. There are the three friends of winter: bamboo, pine, and plum. All three symbolize different things. A traditional new year’s arrangement would include all three of those.”
Another arrangement might have a bud and two flowers that are in different stages of dying, representing the past, present, and future. A common theme is the heaven, earth, and human principle.
“The philosophy is that humans are the middle element between heaven and earth,” she said.