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Designing with a Kenzan

The Kenzan is a floral mechanic used to hold cut flowers in place in a floral arrangement. Literally translated, Kenzan means “sword mountain”. It consists of a heavy lead plate fixed with erect brass needles. First used around 1890 with the introduction of the Moribana style of Ikebana design it remains a very popular mechanic among floral designers. Enjoy as Leanne creates a simple, yet beautiful design in the Moribana style.

Video Transcription

Welcome to the Flower School .com video library. I'm Leanne Kesler, Director of the Floral Design Institute, and today I'm here to share with you a fun Asian-influenced design based upon a kenzan.

The kenzan, some people call it a pincushion, is a wonderful alternative to working with floral foam or floral netting and gives you strong mechanics. They come in different sizes, different shapes. To work with them, you want to secure it to the container. My favorite is to use floral clay or cling or stickum, so many different names. Just take an amount, maybe two inches, roll it into a long snake, similar to playing with Play-Doh. Circle it around, creating a donut. That way you've got a nice circular piece. Then press that against the base of the kenzan. Then press that into the dish; and as you push it down, give it a slight twist. That gives you a very solid suction attachment so it will stay put.

Of course, you still need to add water. That way the flowers will live. Then coming back, and start by placing your main flowers. Chrysanthemums will be beautiful in here, giving it a cut, and then placing it directly down into the pins. Now, following the Asian, I'm going towards the back and slightly off center leaning just a bit. Bringing in a second bloom, making it a little shorter, coming slightly forward and angling a bit and just anchoring it down into the pins. And then a shortest bloom. Giving it a cut, and then bringing it off to the opposite side, also angled, but yet facing outward.

As you continue, you can go ahead and place the secondary blooms. Some, the stems might be a little too thin. For those, I oftentimes will take and bundle them together. Pulling off the leaves. Don't want those because they're going to mess up the line, and I don't want that. I want a nice sleek placement. Taking the grasses, holding them together in my hand, thinking about the link that I want them to be, then giving them a cut. Then rather than inserting them one at a time, where I may not have control, using corsage tape. Just taping the bottom, just at the very base, not covering over the bottom. I still want them to drink, but combining them so that they don't insert separately. Then just adjusting them and placing them in. And then adjusting. You may not want the leaves. Taking those out, pruning, thinking about placement. Then coming in with secondary blossoms on the other side. Maybe a little bit of Bells of Ireland, angling them. I could do two of those. Cutting it down, angling, and then turning it and looking at it from all sides to make sure the placement is correct.

As I stepped in front and looked at it from your angle, I realized this leaf really is extra and shouldn't be there. I also realized this one is too long. So taking them back out, giving them a cut, and then placing it in again. With a kenzan, you can easily move and adjust because there's no hole in the foam. Then you can go back, maybe adding a leaf, covering up the mechanics. Hiding some of the kenzan, cutting it down, placing the fatsia. Adjusting, making sure it's in there nice and tight. Bringing a bit of the yellow towards the center with solidaster. Keeping it very short, just drawing the eye downward to the base of the design.

The beauty of working with a kenzan, it allows you to use minimal materials for maximum impact. Be sure to finish. If you come to the forward, come to the back. Don't let it become one-sided and flat. Definitely has a front, but the back shouldn't be ignored.

For more creative inspiration, check out our website at Flower School .com. If you have questions, you can reach us through there or pick up the telephone at (503) 223-8089.

Now, it's your turn. Find a kenzan, find your favorite flowers, and create away. Be sure to take a picture, and post it on social media. Tag Floral Design Institute. That way we all can see what you create as you Do Something You Love.

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