Among several differences we find in Ikebana arrangement that cannot be found in European or American floral designs, one of outstanding features is the tool we use for arrangements.
When we make regular floral decorations such as European or American arrangements, we usually use floral foam (also known as “Oasis”) for holding flowers in a container. However when it comes to Japanese traditional floral art called “Ikebana”, we use a little bit different type of items such as Kenzan and Suiban as introduced below:
Kenzan: This is a device made of iron which is quite heavy. The is usually shaped like a round plate on which there are uncountable number of vertical needles. When arranging flowers, designers insert stems of flowers onto the needles of Kenzan so flowers can be firmly held thereon. Kenzan can be used repeatedly unlike floral foam (“Oasis”). Once you get this item, you can continue to use almost forever.
Suiban: This is a shallow type container specifically designed for Ikebana arrangements. Unlike regular vases, this container is horizontally shaped and it is quite shallow. Therefore it is quite easy to place Kenzan in the center of Suiban. In other words, the Ikebana arrangement using Suiban always uses Kenzan as well.
While floral foams are designed so that flower stems can be easily inserted from any kind of angle,the needles are vertically mounted only on the horizontal surface of Kenzan, which makes a little bit difficult for beginners to firmly hold flowers unless you practice how to use this particular device.
Suiban is designed with a wide horizontal space, which makes it easy for Kenzan to be placed in the center and also for the water easily filled out in it. Although there are many kinds of designs of Ikebana which do not use Kenzan and Suiban, it is worthwhile to learn the arrangement using these items only because they are typical items used for the traditional Ikebana arrangement.
When I teach Ikebana arrangement to entry level students, I always start from designs using these two items although there are several other ways of Ikebana arranging. If you love flowers and have interest in Japanese traditional floral art, why not join California Flower Art Academy where you can enjoy learning Ikebana arrangements by way of hands on training of ONE ON ONE instructions. You can start from Ikebana Short Seminar Program which costs only $89 including not only tuition but also flower materials, Kenzan and Suiban as well. No hidden cost at all. California Flower Art Academy has been teaching local residents in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley (San Jose) since 1990 as a floral school certified by Flower Decorators Association (Tokyo Japan). For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org