August 30th, 2010 / posted by paularath

Punawai's Awapuhi print scarf.

 Hawaii has a seemingly endless supply of creative people. We really are so fortunate. Of course the Islands themselves are a big draw, the beauty of mauka, makai, flora and fauna offering inspiration and acting as a magnet for artists from all over the world.

Some of our best artists are homegrown. Take Punawai Rice, for example. The Big Island artist and graphic designer formerly worked for another creative dynamo, Sig Zane. Last year, as I reported in The Advertiser, Punawai branched out on his own, creating silk chiffon scarves with his stunning designs. He also invested in a special printing machine that can handle even the most delicate fabrics.

His scarves, while distinctively Hawaiian, would be at home anywhere in the world. In fact, I have been trying to get one of his scarves to Michelle Obama. I know she would love it and hey, she really needs to be wearing something Hawaiian.

Punawai's Tiare Tahiti print, inspired by his family roots

There is a story behind every one of Punawai’s prints. Many of the stories relate to family. I asked him about his inspiration and here’s what he said:

“…The ‘olelo that goes with my designs. I take just as much care, time and pride composing my interpretation of the plant for the scarf hang tag.

The first of my designs is a tribute to our Tahitian family in Mo’orea and our love for each other.
“The faint sweet scent of Tiare Tahiti slips away like a quickly fading dream stirring dormant memories of
ancient and distant ancestral lands and beloved family separated by the vast expanse of time and ocean.”

Punawai's ulu print, inspired by his love for his mother.

The study for my second design came from my mom’s ‘ulu trees in Onomea and celebrates the life and joy children bring to a family.

What are they saying?
Leave a comment below.
Patrice Collins
August 31st, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Paula thank you so much for this post. I spent most of my life on the Big Island and a great source of pleasure was visiting Sig Zanes store and seeing all the fabulous designs and creations. I love the scarves that you showed in your post and I totally agree that Michelle Obama should wear one and she would gorgeous wearing it.

Punawai Rice
September 16th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

If you are in the Honolulu area and looking for one of my scarves, you can also find them at Queen Emma Summer Palace, Bishop Museum’s Shop Pacifica and coming soon to the Academy Shop at The Honolulu Academy of Arts.

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