Reflections on creating Hawaiian Floral Leis
By, Tabitha Miki Floral Designer
Flowers have always been a key part of my life, even from a very young age. The first form of floral artistry I learned traces its roots from Hawaiian culture! I remember my grandmother teaching me how to string a lei from the white ginger and lantern ilima she grew in the yard at 6 years old. Then learning from my Hawaiian studies teacher at summer fun, at 6 years old, how to make a ti leaf lei. The most challenging came when I was around 8 or 9 years old, a few of the ladies from church taught us how to make a haku. I also was fortunate to learn from a workshop done by an elder Hawaiian lady on the island of Lanai how to make haku, wili style lei po’o and the difference between the two! What is the difference, you ask? Lei po’o refers to any lei that is worn around the head. Wili style is a technique that involves twisting or wrapping of the material into the piece. Haku is a technique that utilizes braiding to incorporate plant and/or flower material into the lei, also usually worn around the head.
It was this type of passing down of information and building of relationships between the generations that I appreciated about lei making, a preservation of knowledge and culture, but not only did you learn the skill itself, it was an expression of love and artistry! Hawaiians have created such a breath-taking wearable art form! I doubt many people realize the time and love that goes into one of these pieces of art, unless they too have created such a work of art themselves! It isn’t only making the lei, but preparing the flowers and/or plant material you will be using as well. Flowers have been key parts of my life since I was a child and the art of Lei making was passed down to me by my Grandmother. What goes into this floral artistry?
Preparing the materials:
The materials are not long lasting so it cannot be done too far in advance or too close to the time needed either as it takes several hours to create. Creating the lei truly does involves time management skills, but once a schedule has been planned out the process of making the lei is very enjoyable and calming. After the lei has been completed it is so satisfying to see this beautiful wearable art piece that you are giving as a gift! It is a gift of love! So how fitting to give this gift as a small token to the one you want to propose to? Whether you make it yourself or buy the wili style lei po’o,or a haku, the love and work that goes into it is truly a gift of love and beauty!
Recently, I had the privilege to create such a floral piece for a gentleman who was going to be proposing! I thought his desire to present her with a wili style lei po’o in lieu of a bouquet was so fitting for a surprise, Hawaiian bouquet! Imagine presenting this floral crown to your future fiancee as you ask her to be your queen?! I had goosebumps as I was able to view the photos from our photographer. Each shot perfectly captured the couple enjoying their moment, and there, gently crowning her head was the gorgeous wili style lei po’o! It was so satisfying seeing this labor of love being perfectly displayed, and accentuating the couple’s day! Flowers truly do help set the mood!
The beautiful wili style lei po’o was a stunning crown for his soon to be queen of his castle! This symbolic circlet of Hawaiian florals, just like the ring, is the perfect gift to show the love of your life your undying love! The braids at the end of the circlet are so symbolic, imagine putting a tag at the ends saying, “ I want to Tie the Knot with you! Are you planning to “pop the question”?
Need help planning that special moment? Contact us! we would love to help tell your story!