Simple beauty: expert offers instructions on Japanese flower arrangement

Fans of Ikebana, the Japanese form of flower arrangement, will have the chance to learn more about the Sangetsu School of Art next month at the Albuquerque Garden Center.

Katia Santos, Kyoju instructor at Sangetsu School in Ikebana, creates an arrangement. Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. (Courtesy of Patti Brown, Ikebana, San Antonio)

Brazilian-born Katia Santos, now based in Los Angeles, will be in Albuquerque on Sunday June 4 to demonstrate and lead a workshop on the historical technique of flower arrangement.

The demonstration and workshop are sponsored by Ikebana International Chapter 41 Albuquerque. It is part of a global organization founded in Tokyo in 1956, which now has chapters in many countries and in the United States.

Katia santos

Santos trained at Ikebana Sangetsu’s national headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 1999, she went to Japan for her final exam and was awarded the title of Kyoju-Ho, the highest level for an instructor from the Sangetsu School of Ikebana.

Santos once visited Albuquerque to demonstrate the style of Ikebana’s Sangetsu School in 2014.

“She was a very popular teacher. We had a huge turnout, ”said Peggy Atencio, one of the organizers of the June 4th event.

An arrangement of the Sangetsu school, or style, of Ikebana. (Courtesy of Patti Brown, Ikebana, San Antonio)

Ikebana has been practiced in Japan for over 600 years. Beginning with the Buddhist custom of offering flowers to the spirits of the dead, it has evolved over the centuries into many different styles. Each style, or school, has a specific method of assembling the flowers, herbs, leaves, and branches that make up the arrangement.

Practicing Ikebana takes a love for a more oriental style of flower arrangement, which is seemingly untouched.

“(Ikebana) focuses on the line and negative space. It takes much cheaper material to make an arrangement. There are rules you can learn to follow that help produce great results without a lot of training, ”said Sylvia Webb-Koehler, a resident of Albuquerque, who is certified to teach in the Ichyo style.

While the first teachers were priests or aristocrats, it was eventually practiced by people at all levels of society. Traditionally, both men and women study Ikebana. In Japan, it is considered an art form just like painting or sculpture, reflecting Japanese love of the natural environment, according to the Ikebana International website,

The Albuquerque Ikebana Chapter has been in existence since 1960. It meets the first Wednesday of each month at 12:30 p.m. at the Albuquerque Garden Center.

Atencio will provide instructions on what to bring once it receives the registration forms.

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