02 May

Merrie May

I started this post on May Day which means Lei Day here in Hawai’i. Last year we went to the celebrations in town. This year we had a completely unrelated BBQ with friends. The kids have been practicing hula, chants, and ukelele for next Friday’s program at school though.

The big to-do however, is The Merrie Monarch Festival. My girl and I have been watching it on TV so we can fast forward through the commercials. The commentary is great, but I’ve been fast forwarding through a lot of it since there’s seven hours each night and I’m not keeping my girl up that late!

My favorite for Miss Aloha Hula was Manalani Mili Hokoana English (she ended up winning a very respectable 2nd place). She had such attitude in her ancient hula and was so flirty in her modern one. There was no doubt what the hulas were about.

I also enjoyed Hālau (club or troupe) Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka Lā’s Women’s (Wahine) Hula Kahiko (ancient style based on hula up to the reign of King Kalakaua):

My other favorite women were from Halau Hula Olana.

The chanting and dancing are fascinating, but I also enjoy the costumes. References to the time periods and subjects of the hulas via style and color just get better and better the more I learn about Hawaiian history and culture. Plus, I love the way the ti leaf skirts move and the way the starched fabric made to mimic kapa doesn’t move.

For Men’s (Kane) Hula Kahiko, I liked Hālau Hula ‘O Kahikilaulani (love the green and purple outfits too). They ended up winning 3rd place:

Only six guys but such a strong presence. The women of this Hālau were pretty impressive too.

The men from Hālau Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka Lā use an ulili, which according to an article I red a few weeks ago, is a rarely used instrument in these performances. Speaking of instruments, the guys of Halau I Ka Wekiu danced a procreation hula that I think dates back (in some form) to King Kalakaua’s coronation. I read in Unfamiliar Fishes that something like this completely grossed out the missionaries present. Gotta include that!

Continuing the theme was my favorite Hawaiian singer, Keali’i Reichel’s Hālau Ke‘alaokamaile dancing about the value of gold bars once influence from outside the islands had been established. They won first place.

Saturday night featured hula ‘auana, which is where hula has evolved since the time of the monarchy. This is the style most people probably think of when they think hula. My favorite guys were Hālau Nā Pua Me Kealoha from California, who danced in jeans about a Jeep ride. The little guy in the middle is great.

I liked Hālau Hālau Ke‘alaokamaile because Keali’i Reichel is so lovely to listen to.

But first place winners, Hālau ‘O Kamuela was so much fun to watch.

I can’t not mention the jaunty hats of several of the female groups, or the simple, graphic, black and white lei of the men’s group which danced about an albatross, and especially the tribute to Olympian and ambassador of aloha, Duke Kahanamoku (who won, and in my mind paired beautifully with the winning ladies and their Oahu medley). So many wonderful flowers and costumes!

It’s been a fun few evenings with the TiVo.

19 Apr

Still Scattered, But Slightly More Content About It

You guys are right. I can’t separate it all. Although my head says that showing the public a focused side of me where they can predict what I’ll produce (be it art quilts, craft ideas, a lifestyle type blog…) my heart knows that it’s just not me. What I really have to come to terms with is that to be the better person I want to be, I need to let go of the expectations or conventions of others. I need to stop comparing what I’m doing to what others are doing, and I need to define success for me only.

This post is evidence of that inability to separate that which excites me. I had what I thought was three separate posts swimming around in my head, but they kept converging. Bear with me as I just throw it all out at once.

I think it begins with the Ripple Afghan which is coming along nicely. I ripped it out and started over when I decided that I wanted more white. I contemplated leaving out a few colors, but once I added the white and toned down the orange with a half row of red, everything decided to play together well. I had originally imagined the color scheme as a beach wedding with red coral accents, but my daughter pointed out that it looked like lava to her and I love the way that tied my greyer colors in conceptually. So now, it’s a beach on a volcanic island (which I guess I really was from the start anyway).

As I’m rippling away, I’m watching the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. I’ve decided that I really like the ancient chanting dances known as Kahiko Hula. It’s very different from the Don Ho hotel show style that usually comes to mind, and it’s not the coconut bra, wild hips of Tahitian dance either. I highly recommend going here to KITV’s Merrie Monarch page and look for the column of videos. Under “Watch Hula Kahiko Hälau Performances” are videos that will probably challenge your ideas of what Hula is. Check out the Hälau Hula O Kahikilaulani under Wahine Kahiko. I love the way their grass skirts move! Hälau Ka Liko Pua O performed a chant from the coronation of King Kalakaua (you may remember him from one of my 12 x 12 chair quilts). Kane are men, and you might want to check them out too — there’s more than a few bare chests.

(via the Polynesian Cultural Center)

Under the same general list of videos, Cherissa Käne, Kaholo Panui, and Pohaikau’ilani Ann Nu’uhiwa show a nice variety of costume and style within the chant category. I found myself fascinated not only by the rhythm of the chants but also by the outfits. The sheer yardage amazes me — just think that all woven cotton fabric would have been imported by ship in the days after “contact.” Before that, when these story-telling Kahiko were at their peak, I’m pretty sure the dancers would have been wearing Kapa cloth meticulously pounded from tree bark and then patterned using small bamboo stamps. I can’t imagine pounding or purchasing enough cloth for the full Pau skirts. I believe the puffy hip wraps I saw on both men and women were meant to represent kapa cloth, which would probably tend to puff rather than drape. Even with those, there was a variety of ways they were fastened. And the tops were fascinating to. At first I thought they were all variations on the tube top, but I realized that the tight fitting ones were actually ingeniously wrapped around the womens’ torsos. Again, they looked like they’d need lots of yardage. The men wore all kinds of loin cloths or skirts over pants. Again, the fastening of all the fabric intrigued me. There were dry grass and fresh Ti leaf skirts too. Amazing.

Probably because of all the mesmerizing drums of the Kahiko I’m feeling the urge to work on my tropical fabric designs (I realize that even if that’s a go-nowhere direction for me, I still have the urge to pursue it).

I’ve been working on other fabric-y art quilt stuff too. Earlier in the week, I decided to play with my Setacolor light sensitive paints. I wasn’t too happy with the results, which I attribute to my using a loosely woven, re-purposed duvet cover and cardboard stencils. Today, I tried again, with finer PFD fabric, plus I found some eight year old cyanotype fabric I had forgotten I had. I cut shapes out of fun foam, and it worked a treat. I don’t have photos of today’s work, but here’s my secret project from November. I wrote a proposal for my Süße Sac shoulder bag pattern using various types of complex cloth one might have around after trying the many techniques found in Quilting Arts Magazine. They rejected it, but now you get to see my summery, tropical (the convergence part) version made with sun printed fabric!


13 Dec

Mele Kalikimaka..

…which can’t literally mean Merry Christmas in Hawaiian since the Hawaiian language existed long before the arrival of Christians on the islands, even if only in spoken form. In fact, according to Wikipedia, it’s simply a Hawaiian transliteration. So here’s our melding of influences:

Gingerbread Hula dancers — some with poi-colored skirts!

While the kids were decorating gingerbread people with Opa (German for Grandad), I went to the Hawaii Quilt Guild’s annual Holiday party. We had lunch overlooking Kaneohe Bay, ate homemade cookies, raised some money for the guild with both a live and a silent auction, swapped gifts and sang a silly, on-the-spot version of The 12 Days of Christmas. Each table had to come up with a quilting related gift from Tutu (Grandmother). After much giggling, the final verse of the song ended up like this:

Number twelve day of Christmas my Tutu give to me:

Twelve Handi-Quilters,

Eleven finished bindings,

Ten yards of fabric,

Nine spoo-ools of thread.

Eight pairs of scissors,

Seven Fat Quarters,

Six quilting hoops,

Five Fea-therweights.

Four quilting baskets,

Three Jelly Rolls,

Two quilting needles,

and one Bernina underneath the tree!

Not a bad Christmas if you ask me.

I bid on a set of fat quarters partly because they were “modern” Christmas prints, of which I have none in my stash and could maybe make some cute gift bags or something next year, and partly because they were folded up so cleverly and we all wanted to de-construct the package. I won the bid, so now we can all learn to fold a Fat Quarter Tree.

To start, fold each of your fat quarters in half lengthwise and then in half again so you have a long rectangle. Fold one in half cross-wise two or three times to make a “tree trunk.” With each of the remaining fat quarters, fold the lower left corner up a little at about a 60° angle. From the left side, take that folded angle and fold it down to match the lower edge of your rectangle. Next, take left side and fold it up to meet the upper edge of your rectangle. Then, fold from the left again, to meet the lower edge. this is just like folding the American flag if you’ve ever done that.

Keep folding until you don’t have enough fabric to make a complete triangle shape. Tuck the last end of fabric into the pocket on the right side of your fabric triangle, folding up the bottom right corner if necessary.

Stuff the trunk you folded earlier into the pocket at the bottom of one of your fabric triangles.

Stack the remaining fat quarter triangles on top to make a tree. Wrap your tree with some ribbon so it doesn’t fall apart (there’s an X of ribbon on the back of the tree). Gift to a sewing friend!

The trees had stickers from Mad Hatter’s Quilt Box, but I don’t see the trees on their web site, so I don’t know if they are sending out holiday fat quarters like this, or if someone from the guild made these cuties after purchasing the fabric.