Monday, October 26, 2015

Kuana Torres Kahele Lei demo at Na Mea store, Honolulu

I spent a delightful, educational two hours at Na Mea Native Book Store at Ward Warehouse yesterday.  Kuana was demonstrating several of his lei making techniques and I was curious.  I first "discovered" this talented man on Facebook and quickly became a follower.  He just released a DVD called, "Make Lei" and I was excited to find out that he was going to be doing a demo in Honolulu.

Stripped pieces of coconut leaf, about 1/4" wide.
Needle used to strip the coconut leaf into strips. 5" long.

Piercing the center of the coconut strip and bending back and forth on the needle.  Takes about 10 long strips to make one lei.

Coconut strips strung on waxed, unflavored dental floss because it is strong and lasts longer than lei twine if you are going to dry the lei and keep it for a long time.  These lei will dry in different shades of brown depending on how and where you dry them.

Beginning a new lei project - ti leaf, maile style with laua'e fern.  Laua'e imparts a maile-like fragrance.  This lei requires you to anchor one end while you twist and braid.

Progress.  The lei is "in the round" and uses processed ti leaf as the core, therefore the different color.  Ti leaf can be processed by ironing, freezing or microwaving.  Kuana recommends ironing as the best way to process as freezing causes too much water to leak from the leaves, staining clothes and microwaving is not even.  Lay de-boned ti flat on towel on ironing board and make 4 quick passes on high heat.

The "toe method" is frequently used in making ti leaf lei.
Kuana uses 3 unprocessed, cut pieces, about 4-5" on a diagonal in each twist to form a full, maile-like lei.  In this case he used 2 pieces of ti and 1 laua'e fern, which was also cut like the ti.

Finishing at end of lei is a simple knot.

This was the finished sample for haku (braid) style, multi colored ti leaf lei.  Kuana used 2 unprocessed ti leaf strips with 1 unprocessed laua'e fern tip.  He alternated 2 green ti with 1 colored or laua'e in each braid.

Again, the end is a simple knot.  This lei is good for a hat or as a headband or a short neck lei.

The last lei is a combo of ti leaf braid as the backing and inserting kukui leaf with long stems to create a Micronesian style lei.  The normal half size of ti leaf was further cut into half so that the braid would be smaller for this style of lei.

The leaves are layered flat very close to each other in each twist of the braid.
Kuana says he has made them with maple leaves on the mainland.  You can also make them with large leaf ivy, anything flat with a long stem.

Takes about 100 leaves for a complete lei.  Be sure to even out the height of the loops when you are done.  All of these lei can be kept for weeks, depending on the type of leaves used, by lightly misting with water, placing in an airtight container with a towel at the bottom and refrigerating away from the freezer section.  This lei has to be stored flat to maintain the flatness of the leaves.

Thank you Kuana for an informative demo!

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