The Science and Culture of Art - Maui the Kitemaker

Lesson 5 - Activities

TIME: 45 mins

 

Part 1: Stages of Kapa Production

 

Pics on CD:

-Wauke Bark

-Kapa after first beating

-After fermentation. The final product after beating and water marking the material a second time after fermentation.

 

Use the worksheet with images taken through the Bishop Museum 3D microscope. Have students look at and describe each picture. What differences can they see from the various stages of kapa production?

  1. Bark

  2. First beating

  3. Fermentation

  4. To the final product after beating the kapa again and water marking.

 

Part 2: Hawaii Kapa Vs Tonga Tapa Bark Cloth Comparison

 

Use the worksheet with images taken through the Bishop Museum 3D microscope. Have students look at and describe the picture of Tongan tapa and compare it with the Hawaiian kapa.

 

From their observations, discuss with students why they think kapa is so much stronger and softer. Discuss what fermentation is. Mention fermented foods students might be familiar with, such as yoghurt and vinegar.

 

Myth Busters Phone Book Strength Demonstration

By interweaving the pages of two phone books, friction prevents the books from being pulled apart. This demonstration has been seen on the Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters."

Have students watch the following Mythbusters YouTube short, demonstrating the sheer strength of surface tension friction using a 2 phone books. Or alternatively, you can demonstrate this activity yourself using 2 phone books.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtieXgPrj_4

Ask students to remember how kapa and tapa are made; i.e., by beating the fibers together. It is an old process, probably thousands of years old. It is also called “felting”. Fibers are rough and they stick together. In making tapa, the Tongans beat the fibers with the pulpy mass overlapped in four or five layers at 90-degree angles and pound them together. It is then dried.

 

In contrast, in making kapa, the fibers are beaten, fermented and soaked in water (meaning the cellulose and fiber in the bark is broken down further) and then beaten again making a more intertwined, stronger and softer felting process and thus more surface area friction to offer resistance, JUST LIKE THE PHONEBOOKS.

 

This is why the Hawaiian kapa is some of the strongest in the world.

 

 

Part 3. Fabrics of the past and present

 

Students will draw, observe and compare numerous fabrics of today to the past.

 

Students will compare two fabrics of Hawaii, kapa and maka moena (woven matt), with modern materials such as cotton and felt under the microscope. They will discover that they really aren’t that different from each other.

 

Materials:

Kapa (available from the Bishop Museum and other craft outlets)

Maka moena (woven matt)

Felt

Cotton fabric

Satin ribbon

 

Ask students to remember how kapa is made, by beating the fibers together. It is an old process, probably thousands of years old. It is also called “felting”. Fibers are rough and they stick together. It is different from woven fabrics that are made from thread or yarn.

 

In today’s fabrics we also find many examples of processes that are similar to the ones used to create kapa and maka moena (woven matt), including knits such as T-shirts. Knits are formed from interlocking loops.

 

Preparation:

Set up microscopes or magnifying glasses and samples of the following fabrics:

Felt

Cotton fabric

Satin ribbon

 

Using the worksheet, have the students draw and compare modern fabrics to kapa and maka moena.

 

Look at the different fabrics and identify them. Which fabrics of the present look the most like the Hawaiian fabrics of the past through the microscope?

 

When students are finished, go over the answers with them and discuss the qualities and similarities of each type.

Lesson 5: Kapa, Hawaiian Super Cloth!