Kapa Tool Making Workshops

Program type: 
Repeats every day 2 times.
Saturday, September 8, 2018 - 10:00am to 3:30pm


Saturday September 8

Niho’oki and Wa’u workshop

10 am - 3:30 pm

EHCC Member: $60

Non Member: $75

Supplies cost (additional): $25

Registration deadline: September 3

WA’U - shell scraper

The first process in the making of kapa utilizes these aesthetically pleasing tools~ after the trees are harvested , a large opihi or wa’u (shell scraper) is used to remove the barks outer layer of the wauke, mamaki, our ulu to reveal the kae- light inner bark. it is an arduous task which requires a sharp and honed edge at just the right angle.   

Each individual will be given a large beautiful shell to shape, sharpen, and drill the appropriate holes for lashing a folded piece of young coconut fiber that is found only in the highest part of the tree to cushion the part where the wa’u will rest in the palm of the hand. This will include making cordage from the hau that was harvested in Ninole’s Wa’alu’u Gulch.
NIHO’OKI - shark tooth knife

The next step is to cut down the length of the barks outer layer and peel it carefully away with the Niho’oki. In the old times of Hawaii, the niho’oki had a number of uses. For example, it was the primary carving tool in creating the intricate designs on the ohe’kapala, (bamboo stamps) hohoa, i’e kuku, and virtually anything that needed fine detail work. Sharks were and are still respected, both as part of the natural world and as amakua, or family guardians. Shark teeth are highly prized for their usefulness and not easily found~ especially ones this size.

The Niho Mano that we will use to inlay into a piece of native hardwood are from tiger shark accidentally caught in nets by Japanese fishermen. Bless them. They will never need to be sharpened! Choices for the native wood blanks provided are from Kalopa Ohi’a, and Kona Koa. Those of you with nimble fingers are welcome to try your hand at lashing these as well.

Dremel tools will be required. I have two, however, it would behove you to purchase one because it is useful for many other tool making applications. Ace Hardware carries a great selection or Amazon. Prices are comparable. Tungsten carbide carving bits are also used and will be provided. As well as sandpaper, orbital sanders, epoxy, sharpening stones and clamps.


Sunday September 9

Ho’hoa & i’e kuku: round and square pounders

10 am - 4:30 pm

EHCC Member: $60

Non Member: $75

Supply fee: $40 If you’re not supplying your own wood block

Registration deadline: September 3

This workshop will focus on studying designs characteristic of Hawaiian Kapa beaters. One of the most signifying characteristics of Hawaiian kapa is the watermark that is left as a finishing touch and signature of the artist. This watermark is created by a design that is carved into the i’e kuku (square beater). These tools are essential to the process of kapa and their creation is a journey necessary for each practitioner.

In this workshop you will have the opportunity to design, carve and shape your own i’e kuku and hohoa. We will look at examples and explore the different ways of carving and shaping the tools for different uses and stages of the kapa.

We will supply design templates, a few dremels, straight edge rulers, bits, sandpaper, hand carving tools, chisels, mallets, saws & clamps. If any of these supplies are on hand, please feel welcome to bring those along.  A few micro hand carving sets will be on hand for sale.

You will need two wood blocks for your hohoa and i'e kuku, no less than 2" x 2" x 12"

(I personally like 2.5” x 2.5” x 14")
The wood should be dense and heavy -- we have used Keawe, Ohi’a, and Kauila in the past.
With advance notice, I can supply these wood blocks with shaped handles (ready for carving) for $40 each.


Jani Fisher BIO:

“At 8 years of age, living in Ka'a'awa, I found my kumu hula, Kawai Aona  Ueoka to teach me the ways of our aina heritage. She had a beautiful grove of wauke, and she showed me how these trees became kapa- the fabric of old Hawaii. In her back yard I would watch her lovingly caress each tree as she moved thru the tall, lean stalks- plucking off side shoots as she sang softly to them. When she sent me home for dinner I would eat and sneak back to the wauke grove and sing to them my own mele until sunset. Noticing my great interest, She offered me a few keiki to kanu in hopes that one day I would have my very own wauke grove. Life flowered into so much more than just being a child; cared for. This was a precious time of mana awakening to my responsibility for these things I had come to love so much- sweet wauke for making Kapa, and dancing the hula with my whole soul! This, my kuleana, propelled me beyond self, a child on a full fledged mission of love for the land and the people that raised and nurtured me. 30 years later, my credence remains, The Only way to move forward is not to forget the past ".

 Jani K Puakea Fisher brings nearly 2 decades of enrichment and cultural arts education for social change in and out-of-schools from ages 2~100 years old and has several wauke groves she sings to regularly. Dedication to cultivating and sharing the wisdom and skills left by our mother ancestors to strengthen the tribal bonds of sisterhood and community. To Make Hawaiian Kapa is to create something out of reverence for our nation.



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