Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hawi'ian Lei

I went to a workshop today, in which I learned how to make a lei! Well, there was extra material, and they said we could take some home. So, I did, and got my mom to take photos as I made another one.

4 ti leaves
flowers with stems (I use orchids here)


1) Get ahold of some ti leaves. Explore around online to find them. If you actually live in Hawai'i, it's my understanding that you ought to be able to find them fairly easily.

2) Prepare the leaves. We didn't actually do this in class (they were prepared ahead of time), so while I can tell you that it involves ironing, I can't say on what setting. If I figure it out, I'll post it. Until then - good luck! :) After ironing, you cut them along down the "spine" of the leaf, so that you end up with the spine by itself, and two sides of the leaf separate.

3) Take two pieces of leaves, and tie them around your toe, or around a partner's finger.

4) Twist the two leaves together.

5) When you get to about a couple inches from the end of the leaves, you need to add more leaves in. This is done by winding one new leaf around one of the old leaves, and doing the same with a second new leaf and the 
other old leaf.

6) Once you've got the new leaves wound around the old leaves, simply wind the new leaves around each other the you had been the old two.

7) Continue on like this until you've used up all the leaves.

8) If you're not working with a partner, then before you're through you'll probably have to start stretching a little, like I am in the photo above. The way I dealt with this is illustrated in the photo to the left.

9) Once you've used all the leaves, tie it off at the end.

10) Remove the other end from around your toe (or your partner's finger) and place the knotted end through the loop. You may want to untie and then retie the looped end, to keep the lei from coming undone.

11) Now it's time to place flowers in the lei! :) Make an opening between the leaves, as shown to the left.

12) Place the stem of the flower through this opening. Make a second opening, and put the stem through this opening as well.

Although the flowers won't last for long (I think), the lei can last for up to a year. The instructor said that you can simply place it in the fridge or freezer when it is not in use.

I asked the instructor if there are any local (to Portland, OR) alternatives to using ti leaves. She said she doesn't know of any alternatives. I'll probably experiment sometime. If I do find a good alternative, I'll either add a note here, or perhaps even make an entirely new post about it!

The instructor said that Hawai'ians have been using ti leaves to make leis for about ten years. So I guess it's not exactly a "traditional" Hawai'ian craft, but I think the word "authentic" can be applied to it! =)

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