The basic equipment needed for ikebana is simple. Really, the only things you need are a pair of scissors or shears for cutting the materials and a kenzan to hold your materials. If you have these two tools, you are on your way to creating a beautiful ikebana arrangement.
Pictured below are some of the basic tools needed when making an ikebana
arrangement. Some of the tools you will not need until you have practiced
and mastered the basic rules, but I have included them to show you what
I use in my practice of ikebana.
Floral wire (wrapped in a green paper) is used to bind stems together and is also used to make supports for arrangements done in a vase (arrangements done in a vase require a whole new skill set and techniques that will be explained much later in the video series). Floral wire can be found at craft stores and floral supply stores.
Bamboo skewers are also used when making arrangements in a vase and can be found in Asian food markets and at craft stores.
The syringe pump has two functions: it is used to force water into the stems of water plants such as lotus and water lilies, and it is also used to produce a fine mist of water to spray the leaves of the materials you are working with. Having this tool is not essential. The use of lotus and water lilies is an advanced arrangement technique, one that is used only in the summer months when the materials are available. A regular mist bottle will work just as well to spray your leaves with and give them that little extra care.
Floral tape is used to bind stems together and give extra support to weak stems. I also have a brown tape that is used for branches. Both materials can be found at craft stores and floral supply stores.
Ikebana scissors are used for cutting both the stems of flowers and leaves and also for cutting larger tree branches. If you don’t have a pair like these, regular garden shears will work just fine. I recommend having a pair just to cut flowers, and another pair for cutting branches. This will keep your flower only scissors sharp, enabling you to make crisp cuts to your stems.
Pictured below are several types of kenzan in different shapes and sizes
and two different shippo, a traditional metal holder with partitions (these
are used for large landscape arrangements and some moribana arrangements).
The size of the container and the weight of the materials you use will
dictate what type of kenzan you use. Making a small arrangement in a tea
cup or small bowl requires a small kenzan, while a larger arrangement in
a basic ikebana container will require a larger kenzan. I would suggest
you invest in a basic rectangular kenzan and a basic quarter circle kenzan.
One that is heavy is essential to help balance the weight of the materials
you place into it.
Any container can be used in ikebana, as long as it holds water. Pictured below is a variety that I use and have collected over the years. In the beginning of your practice, a simple container that will hold a kenzan is all you need. After learning and mastering the basic forms, larger arrangements can be created using larger containers. Vases in varying sizes and shapes can also be used for your arrangements but require a new set of skills and techniques to master.
Pictured on the bottom step from left to right are a black oval container
that can be used for basic forms and also for more advanced forms; beside
that, a vase I made from local clay; a white dish from my kitchen; and
a glass compote. The next step up has the basic ikebana container that
I use now to teach my lessons; a tall basic black vase with an interesting
texture; beside that, a black half-moon ikebana container (the first container