Making kapa by hand and turning it into art
Sponsored by Made in Hawaii Festival presented by First Hawaiian Bank
Page Chang, a professional printmaker and oil painter, is one of the many new vendors who will be at the Made in Hawaii Festival August 16-18, 2019, at the Neal S. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall and Arena. Today, she grows, processes and makes kapa, turning it into fine art installations, paintings, prints, sculpture, bracelets and other jewelry.
“Kapa making is an art which includes painting and printmaking. Iʻm Native Hawaiian, so moving into kapa as art was an easy transition,” Chang explains. “I had a real longing for a close connection to my Hawaiian roots, and my kapa practice has given that to me.”
Kapa practice led to designing wearable pieces. “I wanted to wear kapa, and I met a lot of other people that wanted to also,” she says. The practice also led Chang to teaching. “I’ve brought an in-depth kapa making program to five schools, three of which are in my town of Waimanalo,” she says. “We are building the next generation of cultural kapa practitioners. It has really given the students a positive cultural connection to Hawaii.”
In order to design her pieces, Chang has to first make the material. “Itʻs an ancient and global practice that was all but lost here in Hawaii soon after contact by Captain Cook,” she explains. “I grow and cultivate the plants I need to make the fabric and dye it.” She uses hand carved tools to traditionally pound the kapa and hand carved stamps to print on the kapa textile.
“From there I sort of let the kapa tell me what itʻs gonna be, designing the big pieces first, then utilizing the leftovers as smaller and smaller accessories, down to Kapa beads,” says Chang.
Chang’s pieces can mostly be found at shows and festivals. She participates in the Pa’i Foundationʻs monthly Native Arts Market at SALT in Kakaako and a selection of her pieces can also be found at Na Mea Hawaii and Mission House Museum.
At the Made in Hawaii Festival, Chang will be showcasing new prints, bracelets, cuffs, earrings, pendants, and key chains. “A few hat bands, clutches, and belts will be available for sale, or you can order these pieces,” she says. “Everything I make can be customized, so you can order custom designs, sizes.”
See more vendors at the Made in Hawaii Festival: