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Hawaii News

A shopper’s paradise

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Heifara Aiamu and Elaine Humphrey of Kaua'i Coconut Fiber Art.

One day left of the Merrie Monarch Hawaiian Arts and Crafts Fair at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. It was a sacrifice, but for the reader, we took on the task of shopping.

Award-winning singer, steel guitar player and Realtor Owana Salazar was smiling at the entrance of the auditorium, hands full of her “only for Merrie Monarch” business, Puamana Shells. She offers a choice of color and soft-ribbon tie, and will make a twist or two to show off the strands. Catch her with a different set of strings at the upcoming, summer ukulele and slack-key guitar fests in Waikiki.

Designer Nake’u Awai’s flattering fashions are classic Nake’u prints, for shirts, dresses and bags. When all else fails, one of his never-dull fashions can pull you out of any dreary situation. If you want more, check in at Na Mea/Native Books at Ward Warehouse on Sunday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. for Tea & Talk Story with Nake’u. He invites the most eclectic pals for a cuppa. The store carries his fashions as well.

Scott Manley carves slate. The slate engravings are only part of his recent move of 13 tons of art materials to his new studio in Na’alehu, Hawai’i island. His work, and the creations of his wife, Jennifer Manley, come from their company, Studio of Sticks And Stones. They will be featured at the August Made in Hawaii show at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall in Honolulu.

Based in Kauai, Heifara Aiamu and Elaine Humphrey brought traditional Polynesian coconut fiber weaving jewelry and fine art pieces to Hilo. The centerpiece of the necklaces are black pearls. Heifara plays nose flute while you shop, sells the flutes and says anyone can learn. It is possible that some music aptitude is necessary.

The renowned kapa maker, Dalani Tanahy, sits on the floor at the back of the show, pounding kapa. She is known for very large commissions in kapa but fans come by and ask if she has “anything at all” for sale. She says she dug around in her sample box and sold scraps. Museum-quality scraps!

Across the courtyard, Nelson Makua, painter and head of the arts show, stopped by to watch Kalim Smith create a giant ipu, a drum gourd, as he does for many of the top kumu hula, museums and even a few shops — including a few for Sig Zane in Hilo. He grows his own — gourds that is.

Paula Fujii has a booth with the look of a small boutique, jammed with fashion. She prints her own fabric, creates the designs and makes everything. Her Double Paws Wear fits all figures. Her year-round store is in Waimanalo on Oahu.

David Young is a carver of bowls that look like, and often are, in museums. He does maybe only three shows a year. Merrie Monarch and Made In Hawaii are two that showcase his work. He does gourd design in the old method of creating a design in a raw gourd, staining from the inside and waiting. Ask him.

The music recording and Ni’ihau knowledge of Kuana Torres Kahele mix to make for numerous awards. His music CDs simply make you feel good, inspired, lucky you live Hawaii — so will his concerts coming up at the Waikiki Aquarium and the Doris Duke Theatre in Honolulu.

Aunty Paulette Kahalepuna is famous for feathers. Her shop at the Civic is a don’t-miss for everyone, simply because she makes you feel good with her smile and willingness to let you try on a glorious hat lei. Her shop is on Kapahulu Avenue in Honolulu and she will be there with smiles and feather lei at the Made in Hawaii show.

Another stop for every shopper is the table where Aunty Elizabeth A. Lee sits, sells and talks story about the art of lauhala weaving. She is the master of Kuu Papale Lauhala O Kona. Would-be weavers dream of learning from her. A tiny rumor is going around about Aunty Elizabeth’s artistry and a certain halau dancing in the ‘auana night of Merrie Monarch. Keep a sharp lookout for a late-in-the-show moment of total lauhala elegance.

Later Saturday, more hula, art, shopping, candy and hula.

Lynn Cook is a freelance arts and cultural writer who has studied hula for 25 years.

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