A kenzan (also referred to as a pin frog) is an essential tool for the modern flower arranger, designer, or florist. It is usually made of metal and consists of a heavy base plate to prevent tipping with a series of upward spikes for fixing flowers in place. Originating in Japan for Ikebana arrangements, it enables you to carefully position stems in a gestural and elegant way to create informal, light and airy compositions where the stems appear to naturally emerge from the vase or vessel. We feel that a densely full vase loses its shape and movement, but the pin frog enables you to have a lightness of touch and to create Ikebana-style, single stem creations. A very versatile tool! If you look after your kenzans, you will have them for life, making them a sustainable alternative to floral foam.
Here are our top tips for flower arranging with a kenzan.
Choose the right Kenzan for your design and vessel. The kenzan that you choose will dictate the shape of your final design. Do you want to create a low and sprawling arrangement? Choose a large, round kenzan with plenty of surface area and spikes to load up with stems. Do you want a tall, statuesque arrangement or triangular shape? Choose a kenzan with a wide, heavy base so that it can balance the weight of your tall stems without tipping over. Add a little floral fix around the base of the kenzan for extra support. Do you want to create a long and low, meadow style of arrangement? Choose a long kenzan which will give you length or group several together to create a more elongated design. Do you want to create a single stem arrangement? Choose a series of mini kenzans which can be positioned together or on their own for a more minimalist style.
Prepare your kenzan and vessel.
If you feel your arrangement will need some extra support, fix it to the base of your vase or vessel with some floral fix or museum wax. Roll out a sausage approximately the same circumference as your kenzan and line the underside all the way around the edge. Press it down firmly and make sure the surface you are sticking it to is completely dry. Once fixed, top up with water so that it is level with the top of the kenzan's pins.
Cut flower stems at an angle and split the woodier branches.
Cut the base of the flower stem at an angle, which will make it easier to insert and stabilize into the kenzan. For thicker, woodier branches cut upwards splitting the branch at the bottom and use both hands to gently work the branch onto the kenzan needles. For really thin stems such as grasses or small flowers that are too skinny for the needles, bundle a number of stems together, bind and tie with some thin raffia and surround with thicker stems to stabilise.
Work on every angle of your arrangement.
Use a 'lasy susan' to spin your arrangement as you work. The arrangement needs to appear loose and the aim is to consider the form of how a plant would grow naturally. Each plant has its own set of characteristics and unique architecture, make sure you consider each and every stem and truly celebrate them with a considered placement. A well-balanced arrangement will look good from all angles, so make sure you are not focusing too much on one area and spin your vessel regularly as you work to create dimension and depth.
Flower arranging is a beautiful, slow antidote to the busyness of modern life. An Ikebana tutor once told me not to let my enthusiasm get the better of me which I interpreted to mean that my focus should be on the process rather than the outcome. Study every stem, smell every flower, be present in the moment, savour the season, enjoy every minute, and have fun!
Want to create your own centrepiece? View our range of kenzans by clicking here.