Inspiration

Kawehilani Chun’s first name means heavenly adornments, so it’s no wonder she eventually came to find her true calling making lei, earring and beads with her company Ohana Expressions in 2001.

 

 

In her words:

In 2000, a good friend showed me what she had made with polymer clay and I was totally fascinated with this unique medium. I discovered a relaxing feeling just by touching the clay…and I hadn’t even made anything with it yet!

 

Over the next 10 years, I found my passion, or rather obsession, with Hawaii’s native flowers and plants. Unfortunately, a lot of our native plants are on the endangered list. Creating these flowers with polymer clay has provided me with the opportunity to share Hawaii’s endemic and indigenous native plants.

Search through the flowers below to learn more about them and how they are traditionally worn in Hawaii.

 

After you find your favorite, use the links at the bottom of each section to find them as leis, necklaces, earrings or stud earrings!

  • Pakalana

    T'elosma cordata

    My favorite flower! The pakalana vine has beautiful heart-shaped leaves with short-stemmed clusters of small flowers. These coveted fragrant blossoms bloom yellowish-green, turning yellow, then orange, as they mature. I often hear that the pakalana lei evokes fond childhood memories of the leis grandma strung for graduation…were you one of the fortunate ones?

     

    Search for these in leis

    Also in combination leis

  • Pua Kenikeni

    Fragraea berteriana

    This tubular flower grows in clusters at the end of branches on a tree. It blooms a creamy white color, turns yellow by the 2nd day, and then to orange the 3rd day. The fragrance of the pua kenikeni always reminds me of Kamehameha Schools’ Song Contest, where you are most certain to have the aromas of pua kenikeni in the air.

     

    Search for these in leis and cuff links

    Also in combination leis

  • Tiare

    Gardenia taitensis

    Search for these in earrings

  • Agapanthus Lily

    Agapanthus africanus

    A popular California flower! This flower gives us lei in white, periwinkle blue tones to bluish-violet tones. These leis look gorgeous on anyone!

     

    Search for these in leis or earrings

    Also available in combination leis

  • Melia

    Plumeria

    Plumeria is among Hawaii’s most popular lei flowers. It is the first fragrance you encounter when you arrive at the airport. Plumeria comes in red, pink, yellow and more.

     

    Search for these in earrings

  • Pikake

    Jasminum sambac

    The sweet fragrant pikake is known to have been a favorite of Princess Kaiulani. Pikake is a popular lei flower for special occasions, usually strung lengthwise through the center, kui pololei style, for a single strand lei, or in a circular pattern, kui poepoe.

    1-2 strands: a symbol of friendship

    3-4 strands: implies romance

    5-6 strands: a testament of love

     

    Search for these in leis

    Also in combination leis

  • Crown Flower

    Calotropis gigantea

    The crown flower is known to have been Queen Lili’uokalani’s favorite! The center of the pua kalaunu looks like a small crown. Leis are made using only parts of the blossom, or the whole crown flower. It blooms in shades of lavender and whitish-green.

     

    Search for these in leis or earrings

    Also available in combination leis

  • Kukui

    Aleurites moluccanus

    Gorgeous for women but known for men, kukui nuts symbolize royalty and luxury. The kukui tree is the state tree of Hawaii.

     

    Incredibly, none of the kukui beads have been painted at all - all achieve the variety of colors and images through clay making.

     

    Search for these in leis or necklaces

  • Ohi'a Lehua

    Medrosideros species

    Endemic to the Hawaiian islands. Beautiful haku lei are woven from the flowers, unopened buds, liko lehua (young leaves), and hua lehua (seed capsules). Blossoms look like pompoms in bright red, pale red, salmon-colored, orange or yellow hues.

     

    Available at select shows

  • He'e

    Schefflera actinophylla

    Otherwise known as the octopus plant or broken umbrella plant.

     

    Available at select shows

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handcrafted by Lani Chun

photography by Trudy Bloomquist

web design by Search For Blue