The Science and Culture of Art - Maui the Kitemaker

Lesson 3 - Activities

The Making of Hawaiian Kapa Continued…


Second Kapa Beating (90 minutes):

As per Lesson 2, it is a good idea to have a helper who knows kapa making if this is done with a whole class. It is recommended that teachers take an introductory kapa making class before teaching it themselves. This activity was created specifically to be used for fourth grade students in the schools. Kapa pounding activities should be done outside preferably away from other classrooms.



-Kapa Tools needed: I’e kuku (square beater with lines and markings)

-Kua la’au (wooden anvil)

-Small bowls or cups of water



Step 1. Give each student his/her bag of kapa. Instruct students to pour the water out of the bags without dropping the kapa on the ground. Do this away from the class or pour into the plants. Explain that the bad smell means the fermentation is working.

Step 2. Have each student remove the ti leaf packet from the bag. Throw the bag away. Carefully untie and unroll the ti leaf and take out the kapa square. Squeeze some of the water out of the kapa carefully. Throw the ti leaf away or mulch outdoor plants with it.

Step 3. Take the kapa to the wooden anvil and open it. It will be very slimy, smelly and fragile. Arrange it in the same lengthwise direction as during the first beating. Explain to students that it is during this part of the process that the kapa can be fixed if there are holes or tears.

Step 4. There is a technique to making and then teaching kapa and again, it is highly recommended that if you teach this activity, you are first trained yourself. Fold the kapa over on itself lengthwise if it is very thin or has holes or tears. Using the side of the square beater that has the thinnest lines, begin beating the kapa gently, starting from the very top. The objective is the same as with the first beating: to spread the kapa and make it wider. Now students have to watch that they don’t overbeat it and cause more damage. This stage will require supervision to insure that students’ kapa is coming along all right. When the kapa is the desired width and intact lay the kapa somewhere to dry, either inside or outdoors. You can place each kapa on a paper towel and write the student’s name on the paper. Allow to dry.