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Do you ever get back from Hawaii and wish you had more to show for it than a fading tan or a fistful of postcards? Next time, take home a skill.

When my wife and I visited the Big Island a few months ago, she took the opportunity to learn some skills related to Hawaiian culture, and it made her visit more rewarding.

Two workshops she enjoyed:

HAWAIIAN QUILTING: When New England missionaries came to Hawaii in the early 19th century, they brought the craft of quilting, and as with many things, the Hawaiians made it their own, creating patterns with tropical themes.

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Visitors today, in two three-hour sessions, can learn Hawaiian-style applique and make a cushion cover with semiabstract shapes that seem like artistic Rorschach ink blots until you look more closely and see mirror images of pineapple or heliconia. Two classes, $55 plus cost of materials. Quilt Passions, 75-5626 Kuakini Highway, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii; 808-329-7475 or

HAWAIIAN FLOWER ARRANGING: Hawaii’s tropical flowers lend themselves to artistic design. In North Kohala, take a workshop from Nani Svendsen, a florist whose Hawaiian ancestors helped raise King Kamehameha I, who was born nearby. She’ll take you to her private creekside compound and let you pick your favorite flowers and greens, from anthurium to ti leaves, then coach you on creating an arrangement that echoes the beauty of the mountains and forest. Two-hour session, $40 plus $10 for materials. He Nani Florist, Hawi, Hawaii; 808-895-2963 or

Brian J. Cantwell: 206-748-5724 or

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