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Rules For Bending Flowers Or Branches

( Originally Published 1913 )

BENDING the flowers and branches into the shapes desired is a very important part of Japanese arrangement, and there are many methods by which this bending may be accomplished.

Flowers Bent by Hand

Most flowers and slender branches can be bent by the pressure and heat of the hand. In so doing take care that you bring the pressure to bear between sections, not at the joints. Hold flowers in your hand as shown in the cut. Put thumbs underneath the stem and the first and second fingers above. The thumbs must be kept close together while you bend, as the stems wiII break if the thumbs are separated. Bend the stem into proper shape by pressing up with the thumbs and pulling down with the first and second fingers. Try to twist the stem a trifle as you bend. Do not hold the pressure too long on any one part of the stem, but keep the fingers moving along the stem back and forth for the distance of the desired curve. All flowers and branches will be found easier to bend and will hold their curves better if, before arranging, they are placed in deep water in tubs or pitchers, for over night if possible; always for one hour at Ieast before arranging. The chill taken off the water will also make the stems more pliable.

To Bend Larger Stems of a Woody Nature also Small Branches

These large, tough branches can sometimes be bent by hand pressure, especialIy branches of spring blossoms, such as the fruit blossoms and the flowering shrubs. The branch to be bent is held in the palms of one's hands Iike this:

Another method is to tie down the branch for twelve hours, or attach weights to branches as shown on the opposite page.

Branches may be bent until they break if the broken part comes beneath the surface of the water, but the bark must not be injured on any part visible above the water. Branches can also be bent over the knee.

The last resort with an obstinate branch is to use wedges, which is seldom done except by the school of Enshiu-Ryu; but by their use very Iarge branches may be curved as one wishes. It is done in this way on the opposite side from which you wish the branch to curve. Make incisions with a saw. (See cut.) Then cut out wedge-shaped pieces from another branch; thus: forming pieces like this.

Then open the incisions and put in wedges, and force them down Ievel with the bark of the branch.

Another way to facilitate bending an obstinate branch is first to heat it at the place where the bend should come, then bend by wrapping it with paper dipped in vinegar over the heated spot.

Bending of Leaves

By this is meant the turning over of leaves so that their backs may be seen. For this use only the fingers dipped in water. The foliage of daffodil, narcissus, and. iris is bent in this way.

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