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Dig This
Friday, September 29, 2000

By Stephanie Kendrick

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Joyce Spoehr, Cassandra de Kramer and Wini Ito make
philodendron angels that will be used to decorate
Oahu's botanical gardens.

Getting crafty
for the holidays

The scene: A group of mild-mannered and industrious women sit around a table fully engaged in the task at hand. A hint of the surreal creeps in as one of them, Wini Ito to be precise, pipes up with -- "Do you have those extra heads?"

"You want another head? I'll get you one," says Joyce Spoehr. She adds, "We have to go collect more heads after this class.

"You can buy fake heads but we're trying to be natural," explains Spoehr.

Kamani nuts comprise the heads in question, which the group is using as they craft long, delicate angels made of philodendron leaf sheaths.

They are decorated with Pele's hair (Spanish moss), raffia, wood roses, baobab flower petals and banyan roots. Spoehr learned the basic design 20 years ago in a Honolulu Garden Club class.

It's being dusted off as the first project of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens' Garden Craft Club. Spoehr's goal is to decorate the gardens for the holidays with crafts made by hand and from garden materials.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin


Bullet What: Gardens Craft Club
Bullet When & Where: Mondays, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., at Foster Botanical Garden; Tuesdays, 9 to 11 a.m., at Wahiawa Botanical Garden; Thursdays, 1 to 3 p.m., at Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden. Club meets through Nov. 9.
Bullet Cost: Free
Bullet Call: 522-7064

She is hoping to attract veteran crafters who can add their own designs to the mix.

"The idea was trying to get bright ideas so we can decorate the garden," says Spoehr.

She got the idea to decorate the gardens from travels to the mainland, where holiday decorations are a huge draw.

In Houston, for example, retired space engineers do elaborate light displays at the botanical garden. While she'd be thrilled to have volunteers who can do lights, Spoehr is planning a modest beginning.

"I can see where it would grow into having a light display with lights and stuff," says Spoehr. "We're gonna start small, but every year we'll grow."

This year, she'd like to produce enough ornaments to decorate potted Norfolk pines that would be placed throughout the gardens. Next on her wish list are wreaths and garlands for the reception areas.

Each club participant can keep one of the items they create and is encouraged to donate the rest to the decoration effort.

The club is using materials from the botanical gardens, as well as their own yards. Spoehr also encourages scavenging, though she says that has gotten harder since the city handed out covered trash bins.

Miriam Abrin brought the philodendron sheaths that cover the table from her garden. She's delighted to have something to do with them besides throw them away.

"I just think it's such a waste to use synthetic fiber to make a decoration when you have all this available," says Abrin. "This is such a thrill for me. I've always wanted to do this."

Abrin has made herb wreaths in the past and has long wanted to learn other "natural" crafts.

Iko Dodge is also attracted to crafts, which she uses in her work as a part-time teacher of Japanese in private schools.

"In this age of information, (students are) not interested in sitting in a chair and listening to a lecture in the traditional way. So I use all kind of different things and they just love it," she says. Spoehr invited her to join the club.

Other crafty gardeners are welcome to participate at one or all of the club's three weekly meetings. Projects will change regularly depending on the materials and ideas available, says Spoehr.

Oh, and if you want to bring your own heads, she says, McCoy pavilion is a good source for Kamani nuts.

Do It Electric!

Gardening Calendar in Do It Electric!

Stephanie Kendrick's gardening column runs Fridays in Today.
You can write her at the Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802
or email

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