Tips For Making Hawaiian Leis

Tips for making Hawaiian leis. Great for a special friend or occasion, a hand-strung Hawaiian Lei brings the beauty and warmth of the islands to everyone it touches.

The spirit of the Hawaiian Islands travels far and wide with the mythical mysteries and the allure of sandy beaches and lush tropical forests. For ages, Hawaiians have been interpreting that spirit through the ancient art of stringing leis. And from welcoming newcomers to celebrating special occasions, these leis are a traditional and delightful means of embracing the Islands.

There are several different types of leis categorized by permanent or non-perishable and temporary or perishable materials. Everything from flowers to money can be strung to sing the islands' song. The materials used are chosen for their beauty, symbolism and durability.

For example, the masculine version of the typical floral lei is a ti leaf lei. The ti leaf is used for its protective properties. Although, I'll leave the manufacturing of this type of lei out since a weaving technique is used as opposed to actually "stringing" the material. For practical purposes, I will stick to the kui (stringing) method.

Start with your materials. If you are working toward the traditional fresh flower lei, be sure to test the flowers that you plan to use. Take a handful of blossoms and string them on a short strand of thread. Let them be for several hours to see how they take to being strung and what they do without any water. To practice, use a fine cotton twine or floss and uncooked pasta. You can experiment with lengths and knotting off the thread without damaging your fresh flowers.

Flower leis can either be strung through the center of the stem or through the side of the stem, or even alternating both ways. The second technique uses many more blossoms than the first and therefore provides a thicker finished lei.

If you would like to create a more permanent lei, choose shells, wood or seeds, or combine a few different items. These leis tend to require more attention to put together --since the mentioned items don't have natural holes most of the time, you'll need a fine bit drill to make your holes.

The leis can also be strung to be used on different body parts like a haku lei that rests on the crown of your head, the traditional lei that rests around your neck and other variations that might include wrist or ankle accents.

Remember, there isn't a wrong way to get this done. And depending on the materials you choose, there are many different occasions for your handmade leis. A lei inspired by the seashore using shell, driftwood and other natural pieces is an ideal birthday gift for your Auntie who loves the ocean. And a lei strung with cellophane-wrapped goodies is a great stocking stuffer for your little one. Leis are perfect for nearly every special occasion - from graduation day to the wedding day. Not to mention, Hawaiian leis are a sensational alternative to traditional floral accents.

So, for your son's next school dance, your next holiday party or just as a token of your appreciation, string a lei. The energy and effort will be well received and the gift can truly last a lifetime.

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