I made my first ti leaf lei during my visit home to Maui for my 40th birthday! Having lived in Hawai’i, I know how to make your basic flower lei. But, I’ve never learned how to make a ti leaf lei. They take some practice to in order to “get it down” and I’ve thought them to be intimidating. My father “the Jack of all trades and master of all ” of course knows how to make tea leaf leis. So I begged for a lesson and I think I kind-of got it down.
Tea Leaves after I wilted them with a warm iron. This allows the leaves to be twisted without breaking. I was told when doing lots of leis, you can put freshly cut ti leaves in the freezer to wilt them.
Ti leaves after I stripped them from their stalks.
To start the lei, I began with twisting the first leaf. Then anchoring it wound my toe to continue the process. This is a traditional method of lei making. However, you can anchor your lei on just about anything.
I blend in another ti leaf, once I reached the end of the first leaf. At this point, I can, if desired, add a flower to the lei.
What gives the Ti Leaf Lei its look is the ends of the leaves are left exposed.
I added leaves until the lei was long enough to fit over my head.
Once I reached my desired length, I tied off the ends and removed the bottom of the lei from my toe and connected the ends.
I love making leis. The process and the finished product are equally beautiful! Ti leaf leis can be made as simple or as intricate as you like. There are other techniques that I want to learn, but what I made here is the basic version. My father also taught me how to add flowers for pops of color – I need to practice that a bit more.
I’m back on the mainland now and I am making it my intention to continue lei making. I feel it could be a fun and therapeutic way to slow things down. It’s therapeutic and evokes a stillness…which brings up a lot of good ideas!
I hope this inspired you! Thanks for reading!