Akalei Designs is Hawaii's primier designer of handcrafted Kumihimo beaded Hawaiian Lei. Recently featured in Maui on HI Now with POP-Up Mãkeke and Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement. With hundreds of unique designs we were recently awarded “Best Beaded Lanyard” from The American Kumihimo Society (2023) for our complex braid structures. And another positive development in 2023 we had 3 designs selected for a juried art exhibit in Oahu by The Hawaiian Handweavers Hui. This public recognition reflects how our unique and high quality necklace lei are gaining attention. All our designs are handcrafted on Maui. We are unique in that we are able to incorporate aspects of floral lei into modern forever lei using glass beads with designs normally only seen in the shell lei made famous on the island of Ni’ihau (The Forbidden Island).
This is a pattern called "Out of Shell" created by the kumihimo artist and author Yin Guang of Ancient Moon Designs. I feel in love with her use of pearls in this particular necklace. These Fresh Water pearls blend beautifully with the Shell Pearl Charm and the tiny light blue crystal rondelle beads. The white acrylic magnet is super strong so will keep it safely around your neck.
Once each cord was loaded with beads I used a technique called “Kongo Gumi” or strong braid to drop one bead at a time to create an elegant necklace. The beads were hand loaded and braided on a Japanese wooden stand (Marudai). The process requires many hours of planning, counting and braiding all 8’ cords.
Akalei is Hawaiian for "bead reflections" which describes this unique necklace lei design style made only here on Maui. We reinterpret traditional Hawaiian Lei using a vast assortment of glass and natural beads, Japanese silk and synthetic fibers, and a wide variety of braiding techniques and inspirations from across the globe.
If you would like a unique design I can create almost any length, most colors, and also use a variety of button closures. Ideal as a gift for a holiday, birthday, wedding or anniversary. For customized orders please contact me.
Kumihimo is an ancient Japanese braid making technique that creates beautiful and strong interlaced cords. This art form goes back hundreds of years as braids were made for use in armor of Japanese samurai warriors. In modern times these braids are designed as belts (obijime) used on kimonos.
It is my goal to provide you with a long lasting, beautiful piece of jewelry that you will enjoy wearing for years to come. I take great care in the construction of my pieces to ensure just that. Please note: colors may slightly differ from their appearance on your display, as it depends on your monitor settings.
Please send me a message with questions or comments.