Aunt Elizabeth gave me a 45-minute lesson on the basics of making the collages with dried plant materials and then she said I was on my own. That was over 30 years ago.
I gathered and dried materials I thought held possibilities and sat down to glue. I sat in a chair high up on my deck and glued and glued for two years before I got a 5"x7" card I liked. I also got very good at frisbee-throwing cardboard rejects into the bananas below. In another year I was getting about fifty percent of my constructs to where I thought they were okay and began to sell my work at crafts shows and then at the Maui Crafts Guild.
By then I had eliminated all of the dried plant fibers I'd been using except banana bark (and some sea grape leaves for added color). This was an attempt to force myself to explore in depth the possibilities of the most durable and versatile of the materials I had tested.
I don't make preliminary drawings or use photographs when I do my work. My work is half what the materials will allow and half my impressions and recall of what I've seen in my life and travels throughout the islands of Hawaii. As a former hunter, fisherman and woodsman, I have been intimately involved with the shape of the land and waters flowing over and around this beautiful place and I incorporate this way of seeing into my work.
In recent years, I've begun exploring the possibilities in the dried stems of taro, especially the large 'ape and the less common black varieties of taro.
We're partners and the best of friends, my materials and me, constantly evolving and changing in our relationship and understanding. I've used banana bark to represent water, sky, stone, and waves as well as feathers and skin. My favorites, however, are still the landscapes that echo the ones Aunt Elizabeth once did.