Gaia’s Ikebana – Spring

What is Ikebana?

A quick search leads me to a site with the definition:

“Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. It is more than simply putting flowers in a container. It is a disciplined art form in which the arrangement is a living thing where nature and humanity are brought together. It is steeped in the philosophy of developing a closeness with nature”

The name comes from the Japanese ike, meaning ‘alive’ or ‘arrange’ and bana meaning ‘flower.’ However, Ikebana is seen as more than just decorative, it is a spiritual process that helps one develop a closeness with nature and merge the indoors and outdoors.

Ikebana is an art form associated with meditation. Alot of ikebana artists create the arrangement in silence.

There’s lots of play with nature – various forms of flowers, branches and leaves. Even different forms of wood, rocks, and vases are used in forming beautiful arrangements:

Science of Taste

There are different types of tastes:

  • Bitter
  • Salty
  • Sweet
  • Sour
  • Savoury

And then there’s science behind taste, based on our senses. Example the crushing sound of grinding coffee beans, to the smell of the coffee powder, to the taste of the coffee itself.

Our expectations of what something tastes like is from what we see. Some examples:

Something red would tell us that it is sweet

Something green and it could be sour.

Black is going to be bitter.

It is also found that something would taste sweeter if it’s placed on a round plate, as compared to if it placed on an angular plate.

Here’s a video I found describing the science behind taste.

How the Brain Constructs Flavour

75%-95% of what we really taste is from our sense of smell. There are different ways in how the brain identifies the taste of an object.

  1. Anticipation – A flavour experience may begin with a past meal. The memory leads us to crave the flavours to come.
  2. Sensory Overture – The brain begins to break down the flavours as it approaches the mouth by its colours, shapes and the smell.
  3. Sounds – When we chew the food, is the food chewy or crunchy, and further gives the flavour of bitter, sweet, sour, etc.
  4. Merge to create flavour – All the previous steps combine and form flavour. The brain then remembers the flavour and prepares it for the next experience.

3D Sketch Models & 2D Sketch Analysis

We were to do up some sketch models based on spheres, cones and cylinders. Some terms to take note of:

  • Independent is if the object is tilted less than 45° and can stand by itself
  • Dependent is when the object leans on something to stand
  • Precarious is when the object is more than 45° and can drop but still stands.

The sketch models also should not show any right angles and should be able to see all 3 shapes from any sides and angles.

Model #1

Side View

Top View

Front View

  • Red – Dominant
  • Blue – Sub-dominant
  • Yellow – Subordinate
  • Green – Principle Axis

Here I tried to make the cylinder balance on top of the cone, and at the same time make the sphere which is attached to the end of the cylinder hover above the ground, creating a sense of tension in the model. However, after creating the model, I find that the dominant, which is the cylinder, is not dominant enough, and in a way competing with the cone for dominance.

Model #2

Front View

Top View

Side View

  • Red – Dominant
  • Blue – Sub-dominant
  • Yellow – Subordinate
  • Green – Principle Axis

In this model, I tried to pierce all 3 components while on top of each other. It starts with the subdominant sphere at the bottom which is pierced by the dominant flat cylinder. A small cone pierces the dominant near the top, with the heavier side of the cone weighing down against the tilting motion of the whole model, creating a sense of counterbalance.


We were given (or randomly picked from a box) one of the four seasons for the theme of this project. I got Spring.

Spring Mindmap

Click here to view larger mindmap

Final Concept

For the concept for the final model which includes the ikebana element to represent spring, I have gone with the idea of the Spring Equinox.

An equinox is a moment in which the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the centre of the Sun’s disk, which occurs twice each year. On an equinox, day and night are of approximately equal duration all over the planet. The spring equinox is the first day of spring after months of winter.

Using that idea of the equal duration of the equinox, I would create something that has a balance of two opposites which also creates contrasts with each other. And since it’s the spring equinox, I would like to represent both winter and spring, two different seasons, both with different meanings, one coming right after the other.

In a sentence: “The end brings about new beginnings”

The contrast of winter and spring is like death and life. Plants die during winter but bloom in spring. The colours also contrast with each other with winter having a lot of monochromatic and neutral colours from the blacks to whites, but spring has a lot of bright and vibrant colours. Two different seasons and the different ways to show and represent the equinox.

Final Model

Side View

Front View

Back View

I pick up the characteristics of my Sketch Model #2 where the components of the model are stacked up on top of each other all stacked on top of the subdominant sphere.

The dominant in the final model is the branch itself, which can be considered as a cylinder, carrying/containing many subordinates near the top, represented by the fruits (blueberries for spheres, and raspberries for cones). The subdominant as mentioned is the glass spherical pot.

The branch starts off growing sideways out of the pot and it curves against the direction of the falling motion of the branch, hence creating a sense of counterbalance.

The idea here is to represent the end bringing about new beginnings, with the glass spherical pot containing snow and dead leaves representing winter and death. The branch growing out of the pot with leaves and berries growing towards the end represents life and spring that comes after winter.



Project 2: Forrest Gump

Movie Quote 1: “Home is behind you, the world is ahead”

To me, this quote means that for one to grow, they should leave and move on from what they are comfortable with to take on other challenges, learning and developing new skills while at it.

The main feature of the design is the footsteps leading towards the top right of the picture. “Home” here is represented by the welcome mat which can normally be found at the entrance of houses. The mat, however, is upside down, meaning that the person is leaving home instead of entering.

The footsteps are shown slowly increasing in size as in goes further and further away from “home”, symbolising the person’s growth as he continues on to the outside world. The footsteps are also seen slowly changing into leaves, representing the person’s slowly immersing his or herself into the outside world, having a deeper understanding and eventually being part of it.

The nature details on the left and right side of the design also increase in size from the bottom up symbolising the increasing challenges and obstacles but at the same time the increasing knowledge as you get further away from “home”.

Movie Quote 2: “The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there”

In my opinion, this quote means that for someone to truly experience and know the world, he should go outside and not learn just through books.

To represent books and maps, I first thought of a library, a place where you can find books and maps and generally a place where someone goes to look for information and learn about things. So the main feature of the design is actually shelves, with books represented by doors, supporting the saying,”Books are doors to another world”.

The books and shelves fall into the gap in the middle, with outer space in the background, symbolising “out there” in the quote. Overall giving the meaning that to know more about the world, you have to look beyond books and go outside.

Movie Quote 3: “May it be a light for you in dark places”

This quote to me is the idea of having hope and staying strong when things go downhill in life.

The main feature of the layout is the candle in the middle, with the candle flames made of praying hands, symbolising hope. The candle itself is represented by a pillar, symbolising a pillar of strength. Lines and dashed lines emitting from the candle flame creates a central focus towards it.

Darkness here is represented by the large use of black, and also the formation of the skull, symbolising darkness and death.

In the spaces, however, is actually an image of soft flowers (a little hard to see because of the colour halftone), symbolising light and peace that comes from hope (the candle flame)

Quote 4: “You gave me peace in a lifetime of war”

There are two elements of contrast here, which is peace and war in the same sentence. In my opinion, the quote means someone helped to break someone who was built for war and rage by giving them peace.

An hourglass containing different types of weapons used through the ages, ranging from swords to tanks and fighter jets, which symbolises “lifetime of war”.

If you look closely at the top right, there is a dove, symbolising peace, formed in the negative space formed by the weapons. The dove is released by the pair of hands at the bottom left, which smashed through the hourglass, symbolising “breaking of the lifetime of war”.

The left side of the background is actually chaos caused by war, but once the dove breaks through the hourglass, the background is pure white on the right side of the picture, symbolising peace.


I have decided to go with the design for Quote #3 as I think that it will look best when silkscreened on the tote bag.

The screened design and the transparency

After creating the digital design, we were to print it out on two transparent sheets and align both of them together.

After that, we were then told to prepare the screen by spreading the photo emulsion on it. Firstly, we have to wash the screen to clear up all the dirt and dust on the screen. After the screen is dry, we spread a thin layer of photo emulsion on both sides of the screen.

Once both sides of the screen have a smooth layer of photo emulsion on, it is put aside to dry once more.

Once the emulsion has dried on the screen, we place the transparency with the design on it onto the screen and put it into the machine to transfer the design from the transparency onto the screen. The transparency needs to be inbetween the screen and the machine for it to be successful.

Wash off the emulsion from the screen so that the design will be more clear and the screen is ready to be used for silkscreening. The design, however, will be inverted, in a sense that, the black printed areas will be a negative space, while the negative space on the transparency will be “printed” onto the screen. Put it to dry again.

Screen with the design, after washing.

Once it is dry, place the desired surface to print the design onto a flat table. Then lay the screen flat onto the surface, with 4 coins attached to all 4 corners of the screen. This will allow the screen to not touch the surface while and after the design is printed.

Once all of these is prepared, spread a sufficient amount of paint at the top of the screen that is not touching the design. If your design has more negative space, use more paint.

Spread the paint at the top of the screen

Get a squeegee and hold firmly with both hands. Have a friend to help hold the screen firmly in place. When ready, use the squeegee and spread the paint downwards across the screen until the bottom. If you missed a few spots, turn the squeegee around and spread the paint back upwards, till all the spots have been covered. Should not spread too many times (personal experience, once or twice is good enough) as the design printed will turn out really dark and will lose a lot of details.

Hold down the surface (paper or in this case the tote bag) and carefully remove the screen.

Finalised print:


Project 2: My Quotes

I love fantasy movies – medieval-themed or history movies. One of my favourite movies ever would be the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I would not mind watching them again and again, even if I know what happens next. Even when I listen to the movie soundtrack, I know where in the movie that particular music piece is from. So most of my quotes would be from the movies of Middle-earth.

Movie Quote 1: “Home is behind you, the world is ahead”

It is a phrase used in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King in the song sung by Pippin to the steward of Gondor.

It is also mentioned in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey when Gandalf managed to convince Bilbo to go on the adventure with him.

Movie Quote 2: “The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there”

It is mentioned in the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey when Gandalf tries to convince Bilbo to follow them in his journey.

Movie Quote 3: “May it be a light for you in dark places”

It is mentioned by Lady Galadriel to Frodo when he hands him the light of Eärendil to help him with his journey to destroy the ring.

Quote 4: “You gave me peace in a lifetime of war”

It’s not a quote from a Middle Earth movie, but one of my other favourite medieval movie which I don’t mind watching again and again – Troy. It is mentioned by Achilles to Briseis when he is about to die. Even though the acting was a little bad (who talks so clearly when they are about to die), I still think it is a good line.


So whats magic? A quick online search will bring me to the definition:

The power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

To put in context and my own understanding for this 3D Assignment, the object created has to be something unusual, definitely something that should defy logic and supposedly impossible, or to put it simply – magic!

Process & Development

Model #1

The idea of the first model is a vertical Dominant, with a horizontal Subdominant, that looks like its “magically” floating there but it is actually held up by the small Subordinate. The Subdominant is also help up at the one-third point of the Dominant, while still looking quite balanced as a whole.

Front view

Top view

Side view


  •  Red box  – Dominant
  •  Dark Blue  box – Sub-dominant
  •  Yellow  box – Subordinate
  • Green dotted line – Principle Axis
  • Light Blue dotted line – One-third sections

Eventhough i feel like this model has a really good principle axis, I did not proceed on to use this model as I feel that the Subdominant and the Dominant are too closely and similarly shaped, and it almost looked like they are competing to be Dominant. I also find it hard to make the Subdominant to stay in a horizontal position without it tilting.

Model #2

For this model, I started from the Dominant first and worked with smaller pieces accordingly to fit with the Dominant. I had to keep cutting the Subdominant and Subordinate smaller and smaller until the sizes you see below. The idea here is to make the subdominant “levitate” on top of the Dominant.

Front view

Bottom view

Side view


  •  Red box  – Dominant
  •  Dark Blue  box – Sub-dominant
  •  Yellow  box – Subordinate
  • Green dotted line – Principle Axis
  • Light Blue dotted line – One-third sections

Eventhough I liked how symmetrical this model is, from the top view (not shown here) the Subdominant is visually overpowering the Dominant, so theres alot of confusion and conflict on which is the Dominant. The Subdominant is also hard to balance on the Subordinate, an it tilts and touches the Dominant, defeating the purpose of it trying to look like its “levitating”.

Model #3

This is my chosen final model as I feel like it suits the word “magic” and it fits the Dominant, Subdominant and Subordinate well. The idea for this model is, the Subdominant is floating diagonally to the Dominant, but is actually held up by the Subordinate.

All 3 pieces are also wedged together, at one-third position of each piece. The Subordinate is wedged at the one-third position of the Dominant, while the Subdominant is wedged its one-third position by the Subordinate (as seen by the Front view below).

Side view

Front View

Top view


  •  Red  box  – Dominant
  •  Dark Blue  box – Sub-dominant
  •  Yellow  box – Subordinate
  • Green dotted line – Principle Axis
  • Light Blue dotted line – One-third sections

To further develop it into the final model, the right materials would have to be chosen.


I decided to look at what materials would be magical. So I started to look at materials that are known to have magical properties.

Black granite

First material is black granite. Other than the fact that it is known to have “magical”  healing properties, I would use this as the material for the base or rather the Dominant as I would think that the Dominant should be a dark a heavy material to show the stability of the whole model.

White marble

The next material I found is marble. A search on the material got me to the description for marble:

This mineral is used to provide both clarity and states of “suspension” in both meditation and tantric activities. Provides for strength of self control and mastery of thought. It enhances the powers of serenity. Marble can provide the “good common sense” in matters of the home, heart and one’s constitution. Allows for total recall of dreams as well as, provides protection, stability and structure both in the physical and emotional mind.

I have chosen marble for the Subdominant as I would like to feature a heavy material on floating diagonally to the Dominant, to make it seem like an impossible thing but also “magical” at the same time.


For the Subordinate, I have decided to use glass as a transparent material to make it seem like the Subdominant is really levitating away from the Dominant.

Also both the black marble and the white granite would be contrasting colours against each other, somewhat repelling the two objects away from each other, hence causing one of them to “levitate” away from the other.

Final Model

I could not get the right materials for the models, so I got transparent acrylic to replace glass, matte black paper to replace black granite, and white marble paper to replace white marble. I wrapped the papers around the foam shapes, and cut the acrylic accordingly.

Front view

Side view

Top view

Side view 2


One large and small application for the final model would be:

Bedside table clockA small application for the model would be a bedside table clock. The Dominant could be the main clock itself, with all the buttons and the digital face. The Subdominant, supported by the Subordinate can be a nightlight, activated with a button.

Observation Deck

A large application for the final model could be an observational deck. It could be located at a cliff, with the Dominant being the main entrance and the main center of the attraction. While the Subdominant, hanging over the cliff edge by the Subordinate, will be the observation deck itself, creating a thrilling 360 degree view of the area.

Making a Mark – My Line is Emo

Emotion: Love

When you’re in love, you get this bubbly feeling inside, but at the same time it clouds up your judgement and thinking. It becomes more intense the deeper you get, creating dark patches in your mind, dark emotions and thoughts slowly takes over.

Materials used: Chinese Ink, Washing Liquid, Bubbles, Straw

Emotion : Elation

In other words, great happiness.

The light feeling you get when you feel really happy, a burst of happiness out of your body. Tried to show it in the design in a way that the ink creates a light flowy pattern, all emerging from one point.

Materials used: Chinese Ink, Shaving Foam.

Emotion: Amazement

The feeling of great fascination, somehow creates explosions and fireworks in your head, in a literal sense: mind blown. (Would have used that word instead but its not in the list.)

Tried to show layers of “explosions and fireworks” by creating the patterns with an old bottle cleaner.

Materials used: Black Poster Paint, White Glue, Old Bottlecleaner.

Emotion: Rage

Inspired by the phrase, ‘beauty and rage’, from the song Ultraviolence by Lana Del Rey.

At first glance, it looks like a messy angry pattern. Nothing is clear, nothing makes sense when you are raging. However, if you look closely, there is a beautiful marbling effect created amongst the violent strokes, symbolising beauty in rage.

Materials used: Black Poster Paint, White Glue, Old Bottlecleaner.


Emotion: Sadness

Nothing is clear and nothing makes sense when your feeling really sad. The vertical black patches against the horizontal white spaces emphasizes on this uncertainty – your dark thoughts clashing with the positivity and hope, slowly taking over. The water effect created also further creates the somber and sad mood.

Materials used: Black Poster Paint, Water, Foam Board, Watercolour paper

Emotion: Fear

Inspired by nightmares. You cannot recall the dream exactly when you wake up, but somehow it still strikes fear when you have a nightmare. Everything is vague, dark and these nightmares always come in a misty and musty dream, soft and dream like, but unclear and dark.

Materials used: Black Ink, Water, Cling Wrap.

Making a Mark – Process

Emotion – Fear

Materials used: Black Ink, Water, Cling Wrap, Watercolour paper


I mixed water with ink to make it a little more watery, so its easier to play around, and then spread the mixture across the surface, in this case the watercolour paper strip.











I took cling wrap, and placed it firmly onto the inked surface.

Wait a while before you actually put it open, so it sets the textures and details a little.










I pulled out the cling wrap, and reveal the patterns created. i adjusted the clingwrap a little and place it on another area or any desired area on the surface to create another texture.

I left it to dry after I’m satisfied with it.







The Outcome:

Emotion – Amazement

Materials used: Black Poster Paint, White Glue, Old Bottlecleaner, Watercolour paper

This was an emotion that I thought long for. How can I show amazement?

Then I broke down the word and ended up with the word “mind-blown”. I instantly remembered the mind blown meme:

So I tried to recreate something similar.


I spread a mixture of white glue and a bit of poster paint evenly across the whole surface of paper strip.

(This by itself could be used as a method of mark-making, as I get to control the paint and glue mixture with my brush)








I then used an old bottle cleaner brush and dabbed into the paint and glue surface. I flipped and turned the brush to find a desired pattern for this emotion.

To get some areas darker, I dropped a few drops of poster paint to certain areas and continued to dab.







The Outcome:

Emotion – Rage

Materials used: Black Poster Paint, White Glue, Old Bottlecleaner, Watercolour paper

I was listening to Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence at that point of time, and was inspired to create something of beauty and rage.


Again, I spread a mixture of white glue and poster paint evenly across the watercolor paper surface.

I added more poster paint now to make it darker to convey a darker emotion.









But now, instead of dabbing the ink and white glue surface with the brush, I “angrily” brushed it while pressing into it hard.









The Outcome:

Emotion – Sadness

Materials used: Black Poster Paint, Water, Foam Board, Watercolour paper


I spread a mixture of black poster paint and water across the surface of a foam board. I realise the mixture does not spread evenly on the board no matter how much ink I applied. I noticed how it has gaps and watery patterns the poster paint creates.








I then placed the watercolor paper strip onto the paint and water mixture, and gently pressed the paper onto the foam board hoping to get the pattern printed onto the strip.











I slowly removed the strip from the foamboard, and the pattern is revealed.










The Outcome:

Emotion – Elation

Materials used: Chinese Ink, Foam Board, Shaving Cream, Watercolour paper

In other words, great happiness. I took several attempts to do this. The idea is to create something that has a lot of white spaces so it would not be too dark, and also to create something that has a light feeling to it.

I sprayed shaving cream across the foam board in the size slightly bigger than the paper strip.












I then dripped Chinese Ink on various areas of the foam. I only dripped a few inks as I would still want the end design not to be too dark.

Then I played around the ink drips with the back of a paintbrush, swirling it around to create the desired pattern.








I gently placed the strip on top of the foam with the desired ink design on it. I actually applied abit more pressure to get more of the details on the strip and not to leave any gaps.









I then gently removed the strip from the foam. The foam may look stretched and messy.










The design may look messy and grey now, but its not done yet. I took a scrap paper or squeegee and remove the foam from the paper, and the pattern is revealed!

The Outcome:

Emotion – Love

Materials used: Chinese Ink, Washing Liquid, Bubbles, Straw, Watercolour paper

Love was a tough emotion to think of, without making it too literal. So I tried to break down the word and think of what defines love…. so I ended up finding myself playing with bubbles.

I mixed Chinese Ink and washing liquid to make a bubbly mixture. I then blew into the mixture using a straw and the mixture started to bubble up with black bubbles!










I then took the paper strip and gently placed it on the bubbles while I was blowing it. I realise the faster I get it printed, the darker the pattern gets. If I wait a while, the pattern printed will be lighter.









The Outcome: