Master lei maker Kimo Crowell and artisan Ruby Kekahu will be the featured guests on April 11th in the classroom at the Storybook Theatre of Hawaii from 4 to 6 P.M. They will be talking about and demonstrating the making of pua melia (plumeria), la'i (ti leaf), and pua kalaunu (crown flower) lei. They will also demonstrate the making of a maile lei that a lucky person will receive at the end of the class.
Both Kimo and Ruby's families have lived in west Kauai for many, many generations, since before the time of Capt. Cook. When he was 8 years old, Crowell's kupuna began to teach him, as they were taught by their many preceding generations. He learned how to wili (weave or twist) lei and at that young age and his talent for the art immediately became apparent as he entered and won the Lei Day contests at the Waimea Library several times.
After that he realized that if he was going to go through the effort of making a lei, he would much rather have someone wear it instead of it sitting on a table being judged by someone who may or may not be qualified to do so. Kimo learned the definitive art of maile lei making from his father who learned from his father and so on and so forth all the way back to ka wa kahiko (ancient times).
He has made lei for the following kumu hula: Hiwa and Ipolani Vaughan, Manu Boyd, Sonny Ching, Robert Cazimero, Chinky Mahoe, Healani Youn and Maelia Loebenstein-Carter. His lei have been worn at the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, Kaua'i Mokihana Festival, the E o E Emalani I Alaka'i Festival, and the Prince Lot Hula Festival. They have also been worn by Merrie Monarch Judges and by Na Hoku Hanohano Award nominees.
Crowell also makes lei hili, lei haku, lei hulu (feathers), lei kolohala (pheasant hat band) and lei pupu with Kaua'i shells.
Kimo shares, “In the Hawaiian view, if one is fortunate to acquire knowledge, the one has to do the thing and teach the thing. I do it because of that and to keep our culture alive. There are others who make lei maile, but from what I've seen, not all of them do it "the way". Ruby says, “I have a deep appreciation for our island and what it has to offer and the beauty that it possesses. I like being able to share what we have with others that feel the love from our aina. My gift is meeting sitting and laughing with others enjoying the now”.
Kimo and Ruby's presentation is made possible by funding to the Storybook Theatre of Hawaii from the Hawaii Tourism Authority's Kukulu Ola – Living Hawaiian Culture Program. The purpose of the program is to strengthen the relationship between the visitors and the Hawaiian community by presenting experiences and activities that are interesting and educational to people of all walks of life, and supportive of Hawaiian cultural practitioners, craftsmen, musicians, dancers, and other artists that preserve and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture. The Storybook Theatre of Hawaii is located at 3814 Hanapepe Rd. Hanapepe HI 96816. For more information about this or other events call STH at (808)335-0712.Visit their website at http://www.storybook.org