The Problem With Small Feet
Like a ballerina on her tip toes, a small footed vase has a tremendous sense of lightness and grace. The beauty of this type of container comes at a cost, however, due to the presence of a high center of gravity. Add on top of that a lead "kenzan" and an arrangement that uses heavy extending branch material and you have greatly increased the possibility of the whole thing tipping over and potentially breaking your lovely container. The solution to this dilemma is to lower the center of gravity and make the container + kenzan + arrangement less top heavy - but how? The answer is to simply increase the weight at the foot as much as possible. The more weight present at the foot of the vase, the lower (more stable) the center of gravity.So how do we do that? How do we make the bottom third of the container weigh more than the top two thirds plus the added weight of the water, kenzan and arrangement? Many Ikebana designers use decorative rock in the bottoms of their containers to add more weight. Decorative rock and pebbles can be useful, but they are only about twice as heavy as the same volume of water. What's the best thing to use then?
"Finding The Best Solution"
This glass of water weighs half of a pound.....
while these pebbles weigh three quarters of a pound
but at two pounds, this glass of lead weights is four times heavier than the same volume of water!
The best solution is lead. It weighs over twice as much as decorative rock and slightly more than four times an equal volume of water. This is the kind of difference in weight that shifts the center of gravity downward.
For this demonstration, I used a plastic net bag that once held fresh garlic and an assortment of lead fishing weights that I had in a old fishing tackle box. The plastic net bag aids in the placement and retrieval of the lead weights and helps to prevent them from marking and chipping the container. Another option to the lead fishing weights are the round lead musket balls used as bullets in black powder rifles. The fishing weights and musket balls can be found in most outdoor sporting goods stores.
While the materials I'm using in this arrangement are not all that top heavy, the container is very stable with the added lead weights - I think a cat could even climb around on it and have difficulty knocking it over. The materials I used in this arrangement consist of Pussy Willow (with a very nice "Koshi"), a single Aspidistra leaf, and the wild flower of the Blood Root.
I hope you've found this tip helpful the next time you make an arrangement in a small footed container. I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas about this post - just share in the comments below. And thanks for stopping by!