Feather lei making is an ancient art taught in person by only a few kumus on several of the Hawaiian Islands. I studied under Master Doreen Henderson, affectionately called Aunty Doreen.
“Take it out. Do it again”, was Aunty Doreen’s mantra.
Aunty Doreen’s love of the ancient art and her love for her students is the driving force that inspires us to do it right or start over. Her student’s leis are immediately recognized and distinguished from all other feather leis due to her rigorous standards and exceptional teaching skill.
Feather placement, spacing between lines, the math of laying out a pattern and the “invisible stitch” are essential to a properly sewn lei. The mastery of thirteen basic lei styles is required to graduate from Master Henderson’s school, Lei Hulu O Hilo. Each lei is built on the lessons from the previous one. Typically it takes two years to accomplish the basic requirements for graduation. Only upon graduation, are students allowed to learn the next level of more complicated leis, similar to an undergraduate and a graduate degree.
Norene Hutchinson at Graduation 2010
Norene Hutchinson, Master Paulette Kahalepuna, Master Doreen Henderson
Norene with her hula sisters.