The Science and Culture of Art - Maui the Kitemaker

Lesson 7 - Activities

Part 1: Positive and Negative Space: Leaves on Sun Print Paper Experiment


Time: 30 minutes




-Sun print paper (online or locally at Hawaiian Craft Supply, King Street)

-Pieces of Plexiglas or other flat, clean plastic to cover sun print paper.


-Basins for water bath (must fit sun print paper inside and cover with water)

-Clothesline and clothespins



Set up for print making by cutting sheets of sun paper in half (while still in package). Take care not to expose the paper to light too much before hand.



The aim of this activity is to develop and promote an awareness of shape and space. First, discuss negative and positive space, and that it is common in Hawaiian art such as stamping and dying. Show some examples, like the classic vase vs. vase, butterfly people and Hawaiian pattern prints.


Step 1. Have students select a leaf.

Step 2. Put down a piece of cardboard, then the sun paper, then arrange the leaf or leaves as desired, and then cover with Plexiglas or other clear firm plastic. Take into bright sunlight for 2-5 minutes (refer to package).

Step 3. Remove paper and place in tub of water to stop the process (1 minute; check instructions)

Step 4. Hang out to dry and watch the changes!


Part 2: Positive and Negative Space: Paper Cut Out Art

(Modified from



- 9" × 12" sheets of construction paper of two contrasting colors per student





Set up for print making by cutting sheets of sun paper in half (while still in package). Take care not to expose the paper to light too much before hand.



This activity aims to develop and promote an awareness of shape and space. Again, discuss negative and positive space, and that it is common in Hawaiian art such as stamping and dying. Students will create an original visual image using colored construction paper that will demonstrate that all spaces within a work of art have their own unique shapes.


Step 1. Select one color of construction paper and cut to 9" × 6". Distribute one color of 9" × 12" and the contrasting color of 9" × 6" construction paper to each student.

Step 2. Using the half sheet (9" × 6"), students draw and carefully cut out half of a picture or design along the 9" length.

Step 3. The full sheet (9" × 12") can be folded in half along the 9" length to determine the center of the sheet. The parts cut from the half sheet are arranged along the fold forming half the design. The remaining parts are placed on the opposite side of the full sheet in locations opposite those from which they were cut. Glue the parts down.

Step 4. The final project will have a positive image on one side of the full sheet and a negative image on the other.

Step 5. An optional approach would be to "hinge" everything down the center using transparent tape. This will produce an image that is at first simply two contrasting vertical rectangles. When the design is "opened" the positive-negative images appear. Make sure you review each student's work to verify that all shapes have been placed symmetrically. Also check for craftsmanship, quality and neatness of line and fill.

Step 6. Encourage the students to do another more traditional Hawaiian design. There is no need to make too many different shapes. Students can mix and match, but try to get them to think of possible positive/negative designs that will result when they repeat the pattern along the page. Have them practice by sketching on scratch paper ahead of time. Perhaps their combination of design elements will also suggest a more complex, abstract design.


Part 3: Kapa dying and printing

Note—this activity can be configured a few ways. One lesson can be about making dyes that are then painted on the kapa and allowed to dry. Another lesson can be about making the stamps and printing the kapa using tempura or acrylic paint. If it is all done at the same time, the dyes should be pre-made. However, dying and printing cannot be done at the same time unless the kapa is dyed on one half and printed on the other. This will prevent bleeding or corrupting of colors. You will need a helper to undertake this activity.


Part 3a: Kapa Printing


Time: 90 minutes



-dried kapa (this can be purchased from Bishop Museum and other craft outlets)

For ‘ohe kapala stamps:

-wide popsicle sticks

-self adhesive foam shapes


-tempura or acrylic paint

-practice scratch paper, 8.5 x 11" paper for their paper kite

-1" wide foam brushes



Step 1. Group students around tables with materials in center. Show them patterns from traditional bamboo ‘ohe kapala stamps or simplified shapes and patterns. Encourage them to think in geometric terms, lines, squares, triangles etc. Also point out that these sticks will be used to create a pattern that may make 5, 10 or 100 impressions to create a bigger pattern, and students are not trying to make pictures on the stamp.

Step 2. Have students create a pattern on a popsicle stick using the self stick foam shapes. Time and materials permitting, they can make two.

Step 3. Because the focus is on creating patterns, it is a good idea to limit the number of colors placed out. Using the foam brush, instruct students that they need only use a small amount of paint, just enough to cover the foam stamp. Give students scratch paper to practice technique. To stamp, lay the stamp on the paper, press evenly and lift straight up to prevent smudging. To get impressions similar to Hawaiian kapa designs, print again, laying the stamp adjoining the first pattern. Repeat. If time permits, allow students to exchange stamps with one another. Have students print on their kite paper and then on their kapa.

Step 4. Allow kapa and paper to dry.


Part 3b: Kapa Dying

This activity can link to art and science by discussing how people used to make colors for clothing. Students can bring plants into class that they think will make colors. Using a cup of water and a microwave oven, many plant parts (flowers, bark, leaves, roots) will become dyes in the hot water. Other items may be used as well, such as earth, coffee, tea, grape juice. Some store bought spices such as turmeric and paprika, when mixed with water, will make good colors. If you don’t have students bring in the dyes, pre-make them yourself and bring them to class. Because dyes are very thin, they are not suitable for using with stamps. You will need a helper to undertake this activity.


Time: 60-90 minutes depending on activity



-dried kapa

-dyes or dye materials

-paint brushes or if you can find dried seed pods from the hala tree, these can be used as paint brushes

-containers for dyes




Step 1. Dried kapa will be stiff like rough paper or cardboard. Soften it by rolling and unrolling and crumpling.

Step 2. If you use the hala seed brushes, let students know that they hold a lot of dye so after dipping the brush in the color, they need to shake out the excess. Dyes will not necessarily darken with more applied dye unless the kapa is dried in between applications. Discuss with students the differences between natural dyes and store paints, i.e. muted colors, steps and difficulty to gather and make them, different viscosity, etc.

Step 3. Paint kapa and set out to dry. When kapa is dried, stamping can be done with paints over the dyed part. If stamping was done first, dyes can be brushed over the paint. This is probably more suitable if acrylic paints were used.

Lesson 7: Positive and Negative Space