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What Is an Ikebana Vase?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 March 2014
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An ikebana vase is a vessel appropriate for the arrangement of flowers according to the Japanese style of ikebana. With emphasis on symmetry, natural materials, and geometric shapes, ikebana vases are available in hundreds of varieties to suit any arrangement. An ikebana vase can easily be found online or at many florists and garden supply stores.

In ikebana arrangements, the flowers, branches, and greenery are the stars. The ikebana vase, therefore, is often simple, minimalist, and in muted colors and tones. Since the style also takes small details into consideration, the color of the vase is an important aspect; it may be chosen specifically to contrast or complement the colors used in the floral arrangement itself.

The materials used in an ikebana vase are usually natural and fairly sturdy. Stone, wood, and ceramic are very commonly used in this style, though they may sometimes be painted or lacquered to achieve a particular look or luster. Since viewers are meant to see only the parts of the display that have been carefully and specifically arranged, clear glass is not often used for an ikebana vase. Using an opaque material prevents the viewer from seeing the messy underpinnings of the arrangement, and allows focus to be directed only to the elements that the arranger chooses.

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Though ikebana vases are often simple, there is a wide range of shapes often used for different designs. Flat, rounded containers are often popular; these usually feature a very small opening and are meant for minimalist displays. Instead of allowing the flowers to rest against the side of the vase, these containers usually have imbedded pins that can pierce floral stems and hold the stalks upright. Other vases focus on the simplicity and order of simply geometric shapes, and may be formed to resemble cubes, spheres, and pyramids.

Some ikebana vases mimic forms found in nature, and may be shaped out of colored glass or pottery to resemble flowers, seashells, or waves. These may be used in more modern forms of ikebana, which favor freestyle arrangements over traditional minimalist designs. Natural-look vases often feature irregular edges and individual color patterns; each vase may be a one-of-a-kind piece.

An ikebana vase may also dictate the shape and size of the floral arrangement. Some vases have multiple openings, and may be shaped like tubes or crescents. This allows the creation of multi-layered arrangements, where blossoms and stems can be inserted into the openings at different heights and for different effects. These vases often serve not only as a base for the arrangement, but become the guiding artistic principle for the entire piece. Some may also feature additional ornamentation, such as handles or surrounding arcs of metal, to add dimension to an ikebana arrangement.
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