Flower Frogs - a Princely Device
They come in all shapes, sizes, and designs and are sought out by collectors all over. So what is their purpose in this world? They're here to help!
- story and photos by Martha Whitney Butler
Japanese Ikebana arrangements using flower frogs at the French Potager
"What is that thing?"
It's a common question in my shop when customers spy a flower frog. They come in all shapes, sizes, and designs and are sought out by collectors all over.
So what is their purpose in this world? They're here to help! Even the most accomplished floral designer employs the aid of a flower frog from time to time. They assist in the design of vase arrangements and are widely used in the Japanese art of floral design, Ikebana. Flower frogs are placed in the bottom of a vase or container. Their holes, spikes, or cages hold individual stems in place while the maker manipulates the flowers into the desired design.
The use of flower frogs dates back to the 16th century, but were most popular in the 1920s-40s. They were pitched as helpful aids for housewives who had trouble arranging flowers in their home. While there are several beautiful types of practical and figural frogs, the Japanese Kenzan (translation: "spiky mountain") remains my preference.
The Kenzan, made of lead and brass, consists of a multitude of metal spikes that secure the flowers. They are widely used in Ikebana arrangements, but I also put them in any container that is shallow or awkward. They are the most practical to work with and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
When your cage, glass, and spiky frogs are the most common, it's certainly a treat to stumble upon an ornate figural frog. These are highly collectible and run fairly high price-wise. If you're looking for a practical collectible that doesn't take up a lot of space and is aesthetically pleasing, give flower frogs a try! You can seek them out in almost any antique shop in Hancock County. Happy hunting!