Feather Lei Making

The word lei conjures intoxicating visions of aromatic tropical blossoms. But early Hawaiian lei makers also crafted prized feather garlands from the gold and vermilion plumes of now-extinct native birds, an art form called lei hulu. Learn this traditional technique at a three-hour workshop with award-winning feather artist Kilohana Domingo. Unwinding on Kalaekilohana Inn’s tranquil lanai, you’ll stitch specially pigmented goose feathers — a natural byproduct of a nearby farm — until your lei takes shape. Not dexterous with needle and thread? Fear not; you’ll catch on easily as Kilohana reassuringly guides you, sharing personal stories and comparing past and present history, methods and culture. Leave with a one-of-a-kind decorative feather keepsake — and a personalized piece of Hawaiian history.

By Christine Thomas
published in Islands Magazine
March 2009