This Ikebana was quite exciting for me to bring out the inner Japanese in me to make something. Though execution-wise it was much Singaporean, it was still interesting to let me explore that side of my culture that was in deep slumber for a while.
I got the word summer and started to brainstorm what Summer meant to me – I thought about the sights, the sounds, the feelings, the taste of the summer food, the images that came to my mind in summer and broke them down to visual and sensational means.
I wonder what google is trying to hint.
I realized that there is a strong emphasis on beaches and fun, and I chose to focus on those elements in my final composite.
I also looked up some example of ikebana and doodled the structure as well. I was intrigued by the way the vases are utilized to emphasize the form of the branch and plant – for example if the branches are vertically tall, the vase is in a cylinder shape, if the branch crawls outwards, the vase is a flat dish, if there are plenty of spirals, the vase is spherical. They also brought emphasis to the form of the branch by spiraling and sometimes build dependent relationships by leaning one branch on another. I realized there are many, many ways to emphasize the form, hence there is great detail put into the appreciation of the branch from the start.
In the summer last year, I visited Tokyo. My mum, much like many goodyfeed articles, told me about this must-see festival which will blow your mind. It was the Tanabata festival. I remember eating kakigori, takoyaki, and a ginormous okonomiyaki. Which probably explains my current weight post-NS. I took some photos in the festival, too, and who knew it would pop up on my OSS as research.
I realized that in summer there is a strong presence of a variation of youthful colors and they’re usually bright and vibrant. I took this into consideration to incorporate a multitude of colors in my final model.
With that, I began to conceptualize various ways to include these elements. It was a huge challenge incorporating so many elements of food, carnival, fun and beach vibes. Not to mention the part where parts of the plant had to have curvilinear elements and angled structure. This was when I discovered there is great difficulty in tilting the vase without it falling apart or toppling over unglamorously, much like my life right now.
aka. THE PAINFUL PART
You might think I’d improve how well I work with my hands after the rectilinear assignment, NOPE, little do people know my hands are meant to destroy and wreck.
Three beautiful sticks stand before me, but I only have one ikebana to work on, says Fendi Banks, and he experimented with spiralling branches. However many heat gun incidents later at attempting to bend the branches, Fendi learnt not to use a heat gun on a dry branch.
I then scoured high and low from the land of pulau NTU to the land of pulau Pasir Ris for the right Mr. coconut that was perfectly spherical or perfectly cylindrical and settled for one in the heart of Pulau Jurong East that was moderately spherical.
The process started out with my friends and I smashing the coconut open without destroying too much of it (thanks Joel and Zhen Qi), and then me chugging down a whole coconut full of coconut water without a straw. And here you are wondering why is Fendi shaped like a coconut. After therapeutically digging out all the insides of Mister coconut, I started to put my branch into him.
I wanted the branch to hover in the middle as it somehow brings an element of realism that a branch seem to emerge and grow from the base of a coconut like a new form of life. So Hannah, a classmate of mine, suggested using glue gun to stick the branch in the middle and then use heat gun to melt the glue then stick the base in to let it hover. And low and behold it works.
The rest of it was relatively straight forward slotting the berries in a semi-expertly hidden satay stick glued to a branch, and nibbling the biscuit till it was a perfect shape to wedge into the coconut. Oh yeah, and the biscuit is durian flavored, oh how I do not miss that taste.
Hey, you’re probably thirsty right now aren’t you from reading all those OSSes? You’re probably tired of the summer heat, right? Tired of those lame ol’ boring coconuts? Why not try our new and improved Kokonattsukakuteru !!!
I’m just overflowing with creativity today, right Bob the dinosaur?
Me: Moderately satisfied
When I think of beaches (or Singapore’s eternal summer), I think of how I wish I could cool down over a nice cooling coconut. Of course, the coolest (no pun intended) thing about my ikebana is that you can slurp up a good ol’ coconut juice from the straw. I incorporated the idea of beach play with a yellow biscuit representing firstly, the summer sun which is bright and yellow, and secondly, the frisbee that hits you because those damn meddling kids playing on the beach don’t know personal space.
The branch that sprouts out of the coconut represents youth as the branch seems to ‘grow’ out of the coconut and the buds (which are the berries) are ready to bloom into a vibrant new life. It also includes summer colors of red and yellow.
I included the concept of how the vases in ikebana compliments the shape of the branch such that since the branch spirals, the vase is spherical. I also included how the elements ’emerge’ out of the vase outwards with the vase forming a sort of center to the ikebana.
The coconut was also shaved to tilt precariously (which is one of my most accomplished feat that the ikebana does NOT require a base plane) and the frisbee biscuit provides a sense of counter balance to the branch. The berries are also placed to angle outwards to provide a visual interest to the branch form.
In conclusion, there are strong elements of beach, play and youth vibrancy in the sculpture made up of elements and items associated to summer.
This was a fun project, if it wasn’t so painful to source for the perfect branch/coconut/biscuit – but I thoroughly enjoyed playing with food and doing something minimalistic, organic and very Japanese. I learnt how tilting things creates a sense of dynamism and somehow makes things feel alive. I also learnt how elements can compliment each other and probably my most favorite aspect of the sculpture was how the branch spiraled and the coconut was spherical – somehow both just complimented each other’s form. It was quite exciting to improve from my previous sculpture of rigidness to something more alive and dynamic.
Points of Improvement
For the sculpture, I think the Dominant and Sub dominant tends to get confused from different perspective, perhaps I should have made the subdominant smaller and perhaps I could have utilized more of the biscuits and stacked them up, so that way they would be a flurry of colors and perhaps that could have added vibrancy.
Points of Compliment
I liked how the branch spiraled and the ‘vase’ was spherical. I also liked how it was interactive that you could sip on coconut water from the straw, too! I liked how the bright yellow evoked a sense of summer and the berries seem to add intrigue along the branch.