Made in Hawaii
Hawaii abounds in local crafts. In pre-European days, the islanders had an intimate knowledge of their local resources and were very skillful in producing everything they needed. They chopped down big trees, such as the tropical hardwood koa, with adzes made from basalt attached to wooden handles, and they used the same adzes to carve the wood into bowls, canoes, and religious images. Grass was thatched over wooden frames to produce comfortable housing, and gourds were used for storing and carrying food, water, and belongings.
Some of the old crafts are still around today. Woodcarving and weaving palm leaves and lauhala, the leaves of the pandanus, are still popular. Clothmaking is practiced as well. The old Hawaiians used to make their cloth, kapa (or tapa), from fibers processed from the bark of a canoe-plant known as wauke (paper mulberry). Cotton came to replace this important material, but some kapa is still produced locally in Hawaii. More modern Hawaiian-style crafts are quickly becoming traditional, including quilting styles and even jewelry manufacturing.
Over the years, the natural beauty and culture of Hawaii has attracted numerous artists. Painters and sculptors still flock to the islands and numerous art galleries can be found. The islands have their own share of artistic celebrities. Peggy Hopper, for example, is known for her simple yet poignant portraits of beautiful Hawaiian women, while Herb Kane has earned his title of a living legend of Hawaii with his many oil paintings depicting life and history in the islands. There are even artists who specialize in whales, fish, and other marine creatures. With so much to be found in the way of arts and crafts, tourists in Hawaii find shopping to be a big adventure.
Don't Forget the Flowers
One of the most beautiful and symbolic crafts to be found in the islands is the lei, a necklace typically made from beautiful flowers. The gift of a lei is a lovely symbol of welcome, friendship, love, or congratulations when placed around the neck of another. Leis can be simple or complex, and each island has a special kind that they call their own. You can find specialized lei stands in airports, or you can buy a lei from local florists. You can also try making your own. It's a great way to greet your friends, thank people, or add to a special occasion.