August 23rd, 2014 / posted by paularath

Monumental Mysteries

Sometimes the phone rings and I am totally surprised by the person on the other end.

Here’s a perfect example. The other day I was called by a guy named Eric. He said he was calling from New York and he worked for a TV show called “Monumental Mysteries” which airs on the Travel Channel.

Oops. Sorry, but I had never heard of it.

It turns out he is researching a story on the origins of Aloha Friday, which they credit with the entire national and international movement toward Casual Friday.

Oh, okay. That sounds cool. What it has to do with monuments I don’t know, but then how can I judge when I’ve never seen the show?

He told me he wanted to pick my brain and we set up an appointment for a phone interview. I also suggested he call Dale Hope (he already had) and Mary Foster, whose husband, Bill Foster of Malia, originally took the idea to the Hawaii State Legislature back in the early ’60s.

Of course I checked out the show and I was really impressed with it. The episode I saw featured a wide variety of subject matter: the inventor of the TommyGun, a profile of Blind Tom the pianist,  a history of the WASPS (women aviators) and their role in WWII and the accidental invention of the Snurfer, which morphed into the snowboard. Wow. Quite a variety. So it’s not just about buildings; it’s about ideas and inventions.

So why not include the concept of Aloha Friday?

After an hour of pleasant conversation, I didn’t feel I contributed very much but Eric was happy with our interview. It was fun to wander down memory lane – into the ’50s when I was a little girl and  Daddy and I walked up Bishop Street hand in hand to his office at Union Oil in the Dillingham Transportation Building. He always wore a brown suit and a hat with a feather lei.

In the ’60s, men’s wear in offices from Bishop Street to Hilo to Lihue and Kahului made a radical change to aloha shirts on Fridays. It was an initiative that began with the fashion industry (through the Hawaii Fashion Guild) and was embraced by tourism and other industries as well.

The reverse print aloha shirt helped make Aloha Fridays possible, bringing a more conservative version of the formerly loud aloha shirt to the forefront.

It will be fun to watch this show and learn more about how that change came to be in Hawaii. Can’t wait to see what they use for historical footage. Of course I will write a blog if the show gives me advance notice so I can alert you to watch it.

- Paula Rath


August 22nd, 2014 / posted by paularath

CHAI Bulletin Board DIY

I’m giving you plenty of notice about this upcoming workshop because CHAI Studio‘s last workshop was so popular that they filled up two sessions and had a long wait list for the third. Besides, this sounds like so much fun that I didn’t want you to miss out on it if you can make it.

At this workshop you will learn to use up-cycled textiles, recycled frames and other reclaimed items to make a D.I.Y. bulletin board.

Sunday, September 14

Two sessions: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 – 4 p.m.

Location: CHAI Studio in Ward Warehouse, at the Diamond Head End, across from Menchie’s and Executive Chef.

Cost: $20 (All materials will be provided. You will go home with a 20 x 20″ bulletin board.)

In addition, participants will receive 20 percent off any product created with CHAI’s Kantha textiles, such as blankets, pillows and clothing.

Reservations are required. And, trust me, CHAI’s workshops sell out fast. Reserve by calling, visiting the store or emailing. For more information, call 536-4543 or visit

Not familiar with Kantha? In Sanskrit, Kantha means “rags.”

Kantha is composed of vintage cotton saris, mellowed from years of wash and wear. They get a new life when hand-stitched together to create unique combinations and a layered, quilted effect. One might compare Kantha to the boro of Japan, which are also vintage garments, and sometimes rags, patched and stitched together.

- Paula Rath

CHAI Bulletin Board 2

August 19th, 2014 / posted by paularath
Created from Juli's mother's linen jacket.

Created from Juli Walter’s mother’s handmade-in-Tokyo jacket.

When Lynda Sakraida is the featured artist at The Gallery at Ward Centre, you know there’s a treat in store for anyone who loves textiles, notions, fashion and accessories.

Featuring Cora Yee's vintage silk velvet trim.

Featuring Cora Yee’s vintage silk velvet trim.

Right now, Lynda is madly sewing Hadji Baba Bags for an upcoming show called “Bags with Histories.”  Initially, the show was to be called “Haute Totes.” (Lynda is a whiz with naming and branding.) But it took a new direction when she realized how inspired she is by the stories friends tell her when they give her old garments and swatches and yardage from their personal or family stashes. The show  morphed into “Bags with Histories.” Here’s what she said about this new collection:

“It seemed one friend after another gave me someone’s treasured textiles or clothes.  Cora (Yee) gave me her aunties’ handmade-in-Hong Kong cheongsams, Juli (Walters) gave me some lovely handmade-in-Tokyo clothes her mother had owned.  I went to two different estate sales and found lovely textiles from both India and Indonesia, all in the form of carry sacks or shawls, etc. …. So, one thing lead to another, and my show theme completely changed from ‘Haute Totes’ to ‘Bags with Histories’:  new Hadji Baba Bags made from reclaimed textiles.  I wish I had more time, as I have enough to make hundreds of bags.  Unfortunately, the textiles are so special to me that I can’t just make simple little bags….and each one so far has taken days and days to finish.  Yikes….I’m in trouble.  And you know me….I also find myself dyeing quite a few of the fabrics….the off white bridal veil had spots so I dyed it teal….the India carry sacks were quite stained, so I washed and then dyed them, too.  Then I had to dye some cording so I would have something to go with it……the tasks go on and on.  I wish I could have a helper, but you know I never know what I’m doing until the fabrics tell me the next step!”

A bridal veil Lynda dyed teal to cover old age spots.

A bridal veil Lynda dyed teal to cover old age spots. Love those baubles!

Indeed. Her process is totally organic. I have watched her work. She spreads out the fabrics near her sewing machine  and places the notions all around them, selects a color of thread that works and simply starts to sew. Pieces are patched, zippers are attached, buttons and amulets added. One task just flows into the next. Who could possibly keep up with her and be an assistant?

Silk bag fashioned from a pair of old Citron pants.

Silk bag fashioned from a pair of old Citron pants.

Don’t miss Lynda’s opening reception, as she’s also an amazing – and extremely generous -cook:

Sunday, August 31, from 3 to 5 p.m., The Gallery at Ward Centre

Lynda is sharing the show with artist Doug Young, who will be showing his newest work, “Keawaiki.” Expect the spectacular from Doug!

- Paula Rath


This bag started out as a custom made cheongsam from one of Cora Yee's aunties.

This bag started out as a custom made cheongsam from one of Cora Yee’s aunties.


August 14th, 2014 / posted by paularath

Cleaning Closet best

What’s in your closet?

In addition to dresses, skirts, pants and blouses, there’s a lot of psychology. There’s the little yellow sweater you bought when you were in a blue mood and needed cheering up; the size 4 skinny jeans you were so sure you would fit into when you lost a few pounds (the ones with the tag still on ‘em); the haute hippie skirt you bought on an outing with your BFF to seek something to wear to a rock concert (but then chickened out and wore jeans).

Then there are the pieces you’ve worn dozens of times and fall back on day after day because they make you feel good about yourself. Yeah, the jeans that make people say “Have you lost weight?;” the lucky red suit that you’re convinced helped you get that promotion; the Island-print dress that makes you feel as carefree as a vacation day.

As we head into fall, wouldn’t this be a good time to pull things out of your closet and pay attention to what works and what doesn’t – and how each item makes you feel? It just might help you gain a better understanding of yourself and help avoid future shopping pitfalls. Of course, this is much harder than we think it’s going to be. Purging often brings out guilt and anger and loss of self-esteem. You might even need the help of a trusted friend to help you get through it.

A psychologist friend of mine once told me how she purges her closet. She takes out a big plastic bag and throws the clothes she needs to purge into the bag. Then she stacks the hangers and stares at them, because, for her, there is so much pride in an empty hanger. She then takes the bag and puts it in the linen closet and doesn’t look at it again. Later, when she can’t even remember what’s in that bag, she donates the unopened bag to charity.

I once came up with a spreadsheet to try to help me purge my closet. Across the top were the following categories: Garment Description, How Old, # of Times Worn, Circumstances of Purchase, Cost and Comments about how I felt when wearing it.

As long as I was totally honest with myself, this exercise in analysis helped me enormously. Perhaps it will help you too.

- Paula Rath


August 12th, 2014 / posted by paularath
"La Cage au Marble" by Eloise Hiura

“La Cage au Marble” by Eloise Hiura


TEMARI, Center for Asian & Pacific Arts, is looking for new crafters to give a fresh look to their Trash & Treasure Fundraiser Craft Fair.

If you or someone you know is interested in “trying out,” all it takes is three to five digital photographs. Send them to or mail hard copy photos to TEMARI, P.O. Box 12185, Honolulu, HI 96828, Attn: TNT. Please know that hard copy photos will not be returned.

Deadline is August 20, 2014.

Include with the photos a brief description of the works, prices and a list of fairs or galleries where the works have appeared in the past. TEMARI’s Screening Committee will notify the crafter on or before August 22 if the works have been accepted.

Jan Kawabata, Trash & Treasure chair, said “TEMARI is always looking for thoughtfully crafted objects that reflect our Asian and Pacific cultures. We now also include artists who collect textiles, ceramics and jewelry during their international travels. We look forward to meeting new artists through this cyber-screening.”

This year’s Trash & Treasure will be held Sunday, November 2, in the Japanese Cultural Center, Manoa Grand Ballroom. Fees from the invited artists fund TEMARI’s educational programs.

- Paula Rath