Ipo's Artistry

"He who works with his hands is a laborer.

He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.

He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist."

- Francis of Assisi

This describes RHS'69 grad Ipo Cullen exactly...an artist.

Friday, August 18, 2017

I'm so honored that people want to buy my hats. They range from $100 to $800 with colored hats a bit more because of the extra work.

Besides weaving I do custom jewelry and hair clips for hula dancers and smaller ones.

That keeps me very busy, beside spending time visiting my money in Vegas...

I started weaving 3 years ago and haven't stopped since.  

My dream was to make only one hat before I died not knowing I would love it. I've always worn hand-woven lauhala hats that my cousin Wes Taba, who is a master weaver, created for me.  

He was hit with a serious illness and someone who saw his hats and asked if they could meet him because he did a weave that no one does. We went to his house but he was too ill and he asked the person if she would be willing to take me to his teacher so that I could learn. She did and that was the beginning of my love for weaving. My only regret was that I didn't start sooner when he could have taught me.

When I started I had no idea what I was getting in to.

Here's the steps to prepare to weave:

Go out and pick your lauhala. There are the thornless lauhala and many variations of thorn types which are the best to weave. You need at least 60 whole leaves to weave a hat.You have to go out early in the morning before the sun comes out otherwise it gets pretty hot.

Wear long sleeve shirt, long pants and boots so that the centipede, daddy long leg spider or gecko don't crawl in your clothes.

I've been bitten by a centipede twice. One crawled up my sleeve and bit my arm and the other fell onto my hat and slid down my neck and left marks on my back.

So when you tell people the price they don't  realize what you have to go through.

Then you have to go home and take the thorns off usually with a knife or bamboo tool to take the middle and thorns off. Wipe each strip down and use a pasta roller or some type of heavy tool to flatten the leaves.

The next process is use a wooden box that has around 10 exactor blades carefully calibrated to strip the leaves.

Each leaf is cut to a certain length depending on the style and width of your hat.  

If you are making a colored hat you have to boil the leaves in a pot using fabric dyes, dry them and do the same processing.

When you are learning, you learn the basic pattern.

Advanced students can learn patterns and let their creativity go.

Ready to weave? Grab a misty spray bottle, scissors, puller and lots of patience.

When learning in class, it takes 4 eight-hour days to weave a hat. I am down to a day and a half depending on the style and width of the strips. The smaller the weave the more expensive the whole thing can be.

Right now I can weave flask covers, baseball caps, sun visors, western hats, sassy hats, purses and whatever you might think of.

I hold classes Saturday and Sundays for anyone who wants to learn usually from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. It's free and it's pot luck.

(Editor's note: Click on the RHS'69 Info link below. In this email send your name, address, email address and phone number and it will be forwarded to Ipo.)