| I was able to teach myself the art of feather lei making through a book called
Feather Lei As An Art (the only book of it's
type), written by
Auntie Mary Louise Kekuewa and Paulette
Kahalepuna. Through their dedication, knowledge and their book, I was able to position myself to help perpetuate the art of feather lei making for generations to come.
My learning from Feather Lei As
An Art started in 1999, and all of my progress has come
from research, studying photos, listening to stories told
to me by Kupuna that visit my booth at the Merrie Monarch
each year, and trusting God and my sense of creativity.
It is 2010 now and I have since completed 2 full size
and traditionally made mahiole (Gallery Collection link),
and my first attempt of making a feather cape
('ahuli'i or 'ahu'ula, all natural red and gold feathers), also
made in the traditional way of our Ancestors.
Since I have worked on these
items and while completing my first cape, I had been
talking with Kumu Hula John R. Kaha'i Topolinski.
Kumu Kaha'i is one of the last Kumu Hulu that teach the
traditional Hawaiian methods of featherwork of Old
Hawai'i. He teaches these methods of feather lei
making (lei hulu), feather capes ('ahu'ula), and Kahili.
These methods are all of natural products used to build
all of these Hawaiian treasures, as they were done in Old
Hawai'i. In late March 2010 Kumu Kaha'i offered
to teach me his methods as taught to him by his Kumu(s)
and Kupuna, and offered to be my Kumu in his teachings.
I was honored to be asked to be a student of his and
gladly accepted him as my Kumu Hulu. My new
journey to take my gift of featherwork to the next level
I have since started with
Kumu Kaha'i and been studying books and journals that
have been offered to me as well as books and journals that
he has also written. Having the support and
teachings of Kumu Kaha'i has opened many doors of
opportunity for me.