What do fruits and vegetables have to do with flower arrangements?
Japanese do not discriminate: any plant material can be used in ikebana, not only flowers and branches. There is a special type of arrangement called Morimono, which allows using pretty much any part of the plant in the composition.
If you think of it, using branches with berries is quite common both in ikebana and in Western flower arrangement. But once we move towards fruits disconnected from branches we are out of the comfort zone. The known ways of fixing materials are no longer helpful and we are not clear how to show beauty of, for example, a tomato in our art creation.
So what is Morimono? In Japanese it literally means to pile up. It does not sound too artistic or pretty for that matter. Therefore our main goal is to make the pile attractive and artistically expressive. Following the main ikebana principles is crucial here.
If in doubt where to begin, start with selecting an unusual container for your unusual arrangement. This will set the tone and help you push your creativity boundaries. A nice board or a flat stone could give enough space for your artistic pile and will give it a bit of a modern edge.
Another approach could be to start with a choice of a color scheme. Same ikebana principles of working with color apply here. You can decide to go for the same tonal range (see above Automne arrangement) or contrasting colors (see red/green contrast of cabbage and peppers above) or simply emphasize one color – the choice is yours. This decision will help you pick the right grocery list for your next supermarket visit.
Another tip is to look for unusually shaped, odd pieces to avoid artificial look. If you have your own garden it is an added benefit. Home-grown fruits and vegetable are more likely to have unusual shapes. This can give you the key element, around which you could build your arrangement.
The point of this journey is to see familiar objects in a new light, to find out the main characteristics and features of a plant. For example it is nice to split bell peppers in half and show their seed pods or to disassemble cabbage and roll the leafs following their natural lines. Pealing off parts of skin on a darker vegetable such as aubergine could give you just the right accent. From there you could build a contrast based arrangement of dark vs. light colors.
There is a vast variety of techniques available for fixing vegetables in place. Next to the standard ikebana fixings you could, for example, use tooth picks to link several round objects together to prevent them from rolling or choose a larger vegetable as a base for fixing others on top of it.
And of course, nobody prevents us from using flowers or brunches next to the fruits or vegetables. At the end Morimono is quite flexible and broadens our artistic horizon.
Whichever way you decide to go, keep it simple and have fun with it!
P.S. Want to get more examples and tips on creating original harvest arrangements? Follow ikebanaWEB here and download my Morimono step by step seminar materials for FREE. I have just given this Morimono workshop to the Ikebana International group of Belgium using exactly this process. I hope it will inspire you to make your own arrangements or who knows, may be even to give a workshop! My ultimate goal is to introduce people to the wonderful art of ikebana and help them explore their creativity.