SHOW AND TELL

You are all familiar with ‘show and tell’ day, from kindergarten, I feel sure.  At my former school, this meant to bring something to show and then tell something about it.  But, here…the lesson comes first…then the picture.

When I first went to Hawaii, I think I was 15, I bought a big piece of ‘tapa cloth’.  And it hung on my wall both at home and at college.  But, somewhere between getting married and moving and moving and moving and moving…it got lost.  Or someone threw it away…not knowing how special it was.  I have always searched for more each time I have been back, but all I could ever find was in galleries and it cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars, or it was made into some silly trinket instead of just the plain cloth.  But, when I went last year, I ran across some small pieces that were more reasonably priced and snapped up 3 pieces as quick as I could.  I kept those pieces rolled up in tissue paper while we travelled and I made it home with out any creases in them.  I then stretched then on canvas.  And, they are now very prized possessions.

The Lesson:  Tapa cloth (or simply tapa) is a bark cloth made in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, primarily in Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji.  It is made from the inner bark of paper mulberry trees or breadfruit trees, and can also be called kapa.  It was once of great importance to the islanders, being used for clothing,rugs, blankets, etc.  It was even traded with other islands, or given as gifts.  It is produced by strip long area of bark, then boiling and separating the fibers.

Then the softened fibers were pounded to make one large piece of cloth.

Several layers of these fibers would be glued together, then allowed to dry.   Traditional dyes of black and a rust-brown were used to decorate the cloth…primarily by use of stamps or stencils…with geometrical patterns of the native culture.  Each island group had its own special symbols.  These are still used today on decorative items, and often are the ‘tribal markings’ you see tattoed around the bicep or calf muscle of brave islanders!

Though strong when dry, tapa cloth would lose its strength when wet and fall apart.  Nowadays tapa is still often worn on formal occasions such as weddings and funerals. Another use is as blanket at night, or for room dividers. It is also highly prized for its decorative value and is often found used to hang on the walls as a decoration.  It is still used in ceremonial masks, and to wrap sacred objects.

Here are the small pieces that I bought…stretched and hung on the wall leading into our library.

I have had them leaning against the wall in the library, but now that they are hung…I love them even more!
And, if you can recall the story I told you about the ‘picture hanging and paint fiasco’, you will remember it centered around 3 pictures Adam gave us for Christmas.  Here are the pics, and their position on our wall.  It’s hard to get a good picture of a picture, but I did my best.

The areas around the birds are actually a little lighter than the rest of the picture.  I am so happy with these pictures, they truly add to the beauty of the home. (I hope that doesn’t sound boastful.  I don’t mean it to be, I just love it here so much.)  I am so, so proud of the artistic eye that Adam has, and his ability to put the things he ‘sees in his mind’ onto actual paper.  This grouping delights me every time I pass it!  Thanks, Adam!

My husband told me one time that he didn’t think I’d ever rest easy until I had knocked holes in all the walls in our house and hung pictures in every blank space available. Well, of course I won’t.  What are walls for, after all?

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8 Comments

  1. Oh, they're just gorgeous! I love them and the ones Adam did for you. I like to put holes in our walls too! 🙂 I mean…..what else would we do?

  2. The cloth and picture displays are absolutely LOVELY! And no, you do not sound at all boastful, just happily satisfied and delighted.

    By the way, thanks for the very informative lesson on the making of that special cloth. I never heard of it before.

  3. Hi, Tonja … I enjoyed learning about Tapa this morning, and got my day off to a good start by catching up on a few of your recent posts. Your little Levi is a beautiful little boy, and is truly blessed to be growing up in such a loving family. I know your heart was overflowing at the dedication ceremony.

    Adam's pictures are truly works of art … and I'm sure the cardinals remind you of your beautiful mom. What a sweet and thoughtful gift.

    I hope you and Levi are enjoying this glorious Spring weather. I know you cherish every moment with him.

  4. A wonderful lesson, a sweet adventure in search of long-lost treasure, a Mother's pride in her child, and the sharing of a charming foible—what a lovely combination in one post!

    And if it helps any, you'll never catch up with the doo-dads on THESE walls. When we bought the house, I remarked that they'd done a spang-up job of puckying over all the nail holes in the walls. The lady-half of the former owners came to our first party, and looked around at the few items I'd had time to hang amidst all the unpacking, (and my trove has grown exponentially to forty-times its size, courtesy of yard sales and Goodwill).

    She gave the walls one of those slide-eye looks (you know those where somebody starts at your hairdo, looks you all the way down, and then back up, finding NOTHING they like along the way?), and said "Well, if YOU like it." She explained that anything on the walls or tabletops made her nervous.

    Right now, in this room and the sorta-open kitchen, the walls and 'camera shelf" hold thirty-two framed things, a wood-carving of an old man's face, a stuffed Wile E. Coyote, and a clock.

    Amateur.

  5. Love the tapa hangings. Thank you for sharing the background to how they are made. Very beautiful and your pictures from Adam are also very nice. We are working on a wall of canvas pictures from trips that we take but I have yet been able to get a picture of the wall that is worthy of posting!

  6. I so impressed this art. It's fantastic.

  7. It’s the second time when i’ve seen your site. I can gather lots of hard work has gone in to it. It’s actually wonderful.

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