Kapa was decorated with various colors. Dyes of different colors were made from different plant materials. Most kapa was used for bed coverings/blankets or clothing
Lu`u – to dive Waiho`olu`u – the dye itself; “color” To obtain dyes from leaves, petals, bark and berries, soak them in fresh or salt water. The fresh dye plant material was pounded or crushed in a stone mortar with a stone pestle, both made and used only for the preparation of dye materials. Depending on the plant material, you might need to soak it anywhere from a few hours to several days. Some plant tissues may begin to mold or decay in fresh water after 18 hours at room temperature. Plan to crush and process these before they deteriorate. Add cold or hot water to the crushed tissues. Simmer if the color is too pale. Add salt to a sample of the dye to see if it improves the color. Strain through a cloth to remove all plant particles. Use swatches of material (kapa, pelon, muslin, white cotton or linen) to test the color of the dye. Wet the swatches before placing them in the dye. Soak them in hot or cold dye for many hours.
`A`ali`i ranges from shrubs one foot high to trees up to thirty feet high. Flowers are borne in small clusters on the tips of branches or in leaf axils. The fruit is a yellow, red, or brown capsule about ½ inch long Simmer the ripe seed capsules in a little water for a red-brown dye. Cloth placed in this dye should be boiled for greater permanence of color.
`Ākala means pink and refers to the color of the juice of the berry The pink, edible fruit was crushed to make a pink (`ākala) dye. The pink color can vary from a lighter candy type of pink to a deeper burgundy depending on the dilution of the dye.
A canoe plant Orange flowers that are scentless Crush mature leaves and add cold water for a brown stain When simmered, they produce a yellow brown dye.
Native gardenia – may grow into a tree 18 feet high White, tubular fragrant flowers The yellow pulp of the fruit (grows to about an inch in diameter) is used to make a yellow dye
Canoe plant Turmeric Peel and crush the rhizome, add water, strain to get a yellow dye Young rhizomes or underground stems yield a light yellow dye whereas older ones yield a deep orange
Lacy fern The stems of this plant are red-brown. A red-brown dye was extracted from the fronds or stems
DYEING• Ho`olu`u – immersion• Lu`u – to dive• Waiho`olu`u – dye; “color”• Dyes made from leaves, petals, bark and berries – Soak them in fresh or salt water – Plant material pounded or crushed