September 21st, 2019 / posted by paularath

“Waimea: Breaking Big,” fiber art on gallery wrap canvas by Paula Rath

As you may have seen in various art shows around Honolulu, I have been doing fiber art canvases with indigo shibori and rust-dyed fabrics of my own creation for several years now. I call these works my “Sand and Sea Series.”

While these materials still make my heart sing, I have been wanting to branch out and use some new stuff to dye my fabrics. Next up: avocados.

We are fortunate to have an avocado tree in our back yard. Jerry planted it there about 25 years ago and it’s quite prolific. Unfortunately, the avocados this year are less than stellar. About two-thirds of the flesh is ok and edible, but the other one-third, nearest the stem, needs to be amputated. During these kitchen operations, I have become quite intrigued with all things avocado.

Then, a few Sundays ago, I read an article in the New York Times about using avocado pits for a dye bath. The story said the result is a range of pinks and reds. Who knew?

So I started collecting the pits and drying them out.

After a week or so, I put the pits in a my dye pot and added water. After boiling for a few minutes, I turned it down and let it steep until it looked like an appealing color. It took about 48 hours. (An added bonus: It doesn’t smell horrible, like so many natural dyes do.)

Avocado dye in process.

As I usually do with a new dye experiment, I began with silks. In my experience, cottons, linens and wool take dye nicely, but silk usually has the best results.

Left to right: silk organza, silk voile (maybe), silk charmeuse.

As you can see, each of the silks took the avocado dye differently. Very differently. Silk organza lapped it up and gave me an ethereal red. The so-called silk voile (from China, which, as we know, isn’t always entirely honest about what it’s selling) was unaffected by the dye, while the silk charmeuse transformed into a subtle and sophisticated pink.

So quite soon my “Sand and Sea” series is going to transform into something a bit more colorfully complex.

Thanks to my friend Linda Ryan, who goes shopping in Japan as if she was just popping into the neighborhood Target, I was able to get my hands on some kakishibu, a Japanese dye made from fermented persimmons. This will offer a new texture, as well and an intriguing palette of reddish browns.

If you would like to see some of my recent work, you can find some in Chinatown at the DAC (Downtown Art Center) Gallery in Chinatown Gateway (corner of Nuuanu Avenue and Hotel Street), on the ground floor. There is easy and inexpensive parking in the building

Paula Rath

September 18th, 2019 / posted by paularath

The scene this morning on our deck.        Photo by Jerry Mayfield

Jerry and I had an enjoyable experience this morning. We were filmed for two TV segments on an exciting new local show called “HI on Art.” 

The show is executive produced by Will Espero and directed and shot by Fred Vanderpoel, a long time film, TV, video and advertising creative. Each show features several Hawaii artists from various fields, from sculpture and painting to music and tattooing.

Will was a Hawaii State Senator for many years. Will has always had a deep appreciation for the arts and showed his support for Hawaii’s art community in so many ways. He’s a guy who doesn’t just give lip service to the arts – he finds ways to support and mentor local art and artists.

I got to know Will through Hifi, the Hawaii Fashion Incubator. He served on the board and was enormously helpful to founders Melissa May White and Toby Portner in so many ways. When I ran into Will recently (at an art opening, natch) I was excited to hear that he has found a new way to support Hawaii artists, through a weekly TV show. Before I knew it, he had asked Jerry and me to appear as subjects on “HI on Art.”

That’s Will Espero talking to me on our deck and Fred Vanderpoel behind the camera.

When considering what aspect of art I wanted to talk about, I quickly focused on fiber art, as that is where my passion lies right now. The show’s format is a monologue, so I just did a stream of conscious interview about my love of fibers and how I dye them and create works of art with them. It was a fun way to go a little deeper into my own take on art.

I did a sort of show and tell about the process of natural dyeing and shared some successes – and some failures. I also talked about a few new dyes I am experimenting with. (A blog about avocado pits is coming soon).

Jerry was filmed in our living room with his 40 sketchbooks.

Jerry shared his passion for sketching. Would you believe he has filled 40 sketchbooks during our travels and his forays around Oahu? He talked about how inspiring it is to look at the world through your sketches. “It captures a moment in time,” he said, far more effectively than a photo. A sketch takes you right back to the place where you sketched it, whether that was Tallinn, Estonia or a pub in Killarney, Ireland or a beach on Oahu.

Fred wanted him to just keep turning the pages of various sketchbooks, almost like creating a mini-movie with the fabulous drawings. So beautiful!

Will said the segment with our interviews will probably run on Saturday, September 28, at 11 p.m. on Channel 11. (It’s easy to remember “11 on 11.”) If you’re not up at 11 p.m. on Saturday nights (I know we aren’t), just set your DVR to tape the series. That’s what we do. Or look for it at

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of our segments!

Paula Rath


September 12th, 2019 / posted by paularath

A small selection of Indige accessories.

You know that favorite go-to dress you can just put on, worry free, and walk out your door knowing that you are going to get one compliment after another throughout the day? Well, I am fortunate enough to have several of those, and one of them, an indigo-and-white cotton frock, is from Indige Design in Kaimuki.

As it happens, Indige is having its biggest sale ever right now and I totally scored more treasures there yesterday – as did my husband, Jerry! I highly recommend that you visit the store – and soon – while the fabulous bargains are still available. You will find nearly everything at 30 to 50 percent off.

Basketry is among the art forms that owner Ron Irwin brings home to Hawaii from exotic locales such as Indonesia and Nepal. His focus has always been on sustainable resources and traditional indigenous techniques and design. He has spent decades cultivating relationships and sharing techniques with artisans throughout Asia.

This is a detail of handwoven linen dress I bought. It’s woven in Indonesia, designed by Ron Irwin.

My favorite of-the-moment Indige clothing collection is the handwoven linen. Trust me, it’s not easy to weave linen. Did you know that linen starts out with a sticky residue? And going for a plaid print, yikes! That’s just making it ten times harder to get it right. But Ron and his weavers stuck with it until they got it perfect. Then they sewed it into tunics and dresses with engineered pockets! You can’t even see the seams where the patch pockets are attached. Yet there they are, practical and pretty as can be.

Fun hats are half off.

Take a girlfriend when you go and try on hats together. Guaranteed fun!

A go-everywhere dress and jacket.

Jerry’s Tibetan singing bowl.                              Photo by Jerry Mayfield

While I was scouting clothes and accessories, Jerry discovered an antique Tibetan Singing Bowl. He got going with the little gong and immediately became entranced with the sound, which lingers in the air for a long while. “I like its weight and the way it looks. It plays different notes with different mallets,” he explained. Ron gave him a lesson in how to make the bowl sing, and Jerry has decided to return for another lesson so he can expand the bowl’s – and his – abilities.

Shopping at Indige is never just shopping. I always learn something new and it’s such a pleasure to have Ron to talk to. His decades in the fashion, textile and interiors industries have served him well and he is always happy to share his breadth of knowledge.

Find Indige at 3449 Waialae Avenue, between 9th and 10th Streets, on the makai side. Phone 734-3377 or find it online at I have always found parking on the street in that block or the next. Be sure to take some coins for the meter.

Paula Rath



July 17th, 2019 / posted by paularath

Photos courtesy Kate Ryan

This just in from my indigo dyeing friend Linda Ryan of Over the Blue Horizon: There’s a home decor event coming to Kailua Town this Sunday, July 21st, and it will feature 50+ vendors.

It’s the brainchild of entrepreneur Danielle Sherman, whom you may remember as the founder of Social Wahines and Startup Weekend. She’s a realtor now, so it’s not surprising that she would shine her spotlight on home decor.

There will be lots of food, local treasures and original artisans at the pet-friendly marketplace, where you will even find pooches waiting to be adopted.

Pillow by Over the Blue Horizon

Linda is best known for her antique Japanese folk textiles and vintage clothing, especially indigo pieces. At Sunday’s event, she is focusing on home decor, with pillows made from vintage Japanese rice or flour sacks, framed textiles, table runners, sakiori (rag woven) rugs and futon covers. She will also have a few scarves and jackets.

The quality and authenticity of Over the Blue Horizon pieces is always exemplary, and now Linda’s daughter, Kate, has added her considerable talents to the family business, with her lush photography and stylish approach to pillows. Whether your decor is minimalist, understated elegance or shabby chic, these one-of-a-kind finds will bring lightness and joy into your home.

Paula Rath



July 12th, 2019 / posted by paularath

Photos courtesy of Hawaii All-Collectors Show

Is that honu pin your Tutu gave you Ming’s…or not?

I was fortunate to inherit a beautiful bracelet from my mother, and it reminds me of the sparkle in her eyes when my father surprised her with a gift of Ming’s Jewelry. He worked on Bishop Street in the Dillingham Building, and every once in a while he would pop in to the Ming’s Jewelry of Hawaii downtown store. Whether it was a pikake bracelet or fish earrings, she was always delighted.

You can learn more about your pieces from vintage jewelry experts Linda Lee and Dale Cripps on Sunday, July 14, from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. They will be giving free jewelry IDs and informal appraisals during the Hawaii All-Collectors Show.  Find them in Booth 223. (Limit is five pieces.)

See the seahorse frolicking among the flowers?

Ming’s was started by artist Wook Moon in 1940, the year my parents were married, and over time the popular store became known as the”Tiffany of the Pacific.” The company eventually expanded to San Francisco, New York City and other mainland cities. The last Ming’s store, located on Fort Street Mall, closed in October, 1999.

A classic Ming’s Chrysanthemum set.

The Ming’s pieces were crafted from gold, sterling silver, jade, pearls and ivory. They have become treasured collectors items.

Linda Lee has been collecting Ming’s jewelry since the 1980s. After 40 years of collecting, this will be her last event for displaying, identifying and informally appraising the iconic jewelry. So if you think you got Ming’s, this would be an ideal time to find out.

The Hawaii All-Collectors Show will be Sunday, July 14

10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

General admission: $5

Children 7 – 11: $2

Early entry is at 9:30 a.m. and costs $20

Paula Rath