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Tiki Central Forums Creating Tiki Tiki Carving I think it has reached a point where it bears discussion...
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I think it has reached a point where it bears discussion...
Basement Kahuna
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 3601
From: Jawja Province, Isle of North America
Posted: 2005-11-13 2:59 pm   Permalink

It's nice to see some more traditional stuff and more people doing full body stuff as well. Some of the things I've seen go through here lately, while being cool and creative pieces of art, are either so far out there or so culled from the "any big face with big teeth on a log equals a tiki" school(which isn't true) or the "Anything remotely counterculture equals Tiki school (which also isn't true) that they could barely be called Tiki at all, much less Polynesian or South Pacific influenced, which after all is the wellspring and still the theme of our genre.. While there is a wealth of it out there, there are people here and on other forums that niether seem to have any desire for knowledge or interest in the depth and history of the classic, distinctive genre that tiki is outside of a tiny whimsical comfort zone, whether it be the art forms, the classic drinks, the tiki temples of the golden age, remaining or gone forever, or the great ones of the past who created this style that we all enjoy today.. Now, don't get me wrong, my Ohana.. I'm not trying to clip any wings here or steal any sunshine or pop any wrists or rain on any parades. Just making a statement in the interest of this thing we call Tiki not becoming some big, indeciferable ball of nothingness that has no distinctive, discernable style or flavor. STUDY THE CLASSICS. KNOW TIKI. Know it's history and it's style. If you don't own them, BUY "The Book Of Tiki"... Buy "Art Of The South Seas"...Buy Meyer's "Oceanic Art"...Buy "Tiki Road Trip" and "Taboo, The Art of Tiki"....buy "Beachbum Berry's Grog Log" and "Intoxica", and "Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide", and "Kitchen Kibitzer" and "How Daddy Became A Beachcomber" and Heyerdhal's "Kon Tiki". Live it. Breathe it. Love it. THEN create Tiki as you interpret it knowing that background:)

[ This Message was edited by: Basement Kahuna 2005-11-14 10:10 ]

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Basement Kahuna
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 3601
From: Jawja Province, Isle of North America
Posted: 2005-11-13 3:09 pm   Permalink

Help me out here, old salts who know of whence I speak ...(I don't want to mistakenly sound arrogant, but Tiki is something I am pretty passionate about)

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 31, 2003
Posts: 1527
From: L.I.
Posted: 2005-11-13 3:31 pm   Permalink

What you seem to be asking, is that we re-create it.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 04, 2005
Posts: 541
From: Boca Raton, FL
Posted: 2005-11-13 3:44 pm   Permalink

Fundamentals always win the game...however if all we do is re-create how can we make it ours and special for todays generation of Tiki enthusiast's?

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 15, 2005
Posts: 229
From: Palm City, Florida ( no really)
Posted: 2005-11-13 3:48 pm   Permalink

BK I agree that there are a lot of varieties in the style, craftmenship and also ability. I get alot of knowledge and personal betterment buy viewing your posts and the history that you give to us. I look forward to seeing your work and partaking in your knowledge and skills. However I feel the that along the way of the masters, several if not thousands of attempts at carvings were made and rejected. When you look into the books and videos you are only seeing the best of the best. Unlike here, in the villages they had appreticeship, and the ability to watch a mastercrafter in his element. The only people that I have ever seen carving are the 10 minute jobbers that fire up the chain saw and dive in producing a pile of sawdust and a finished product that look like it took all 9 minutes to create. That being said I feel that whatever anyone brings to the table ...either good, bad or ugly, is still an attempt to further the feeling and spirit of tiki. I am so proud of Benz for encouraging everyone and therefore improving the skill of the entire community. All that being said, I feel that the scribes and chiefs would sellect you and Benz as our stand-out carvers. Thus leaving the rest of us to try to achieve the notoriety and knowledge that our leaders both hold and share.

Thats my 2 cents and now I turn the soap box back over.

P.S. I really like that latest sword.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3691
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2005-11-13 4:29 pm   Permalink

Here's the thing: if you look through Meyers' Oceanic Art, you see an amazing variety in the pieces. When the artists in the last century turned to this influence to create their own versions, they took those varied influences, and found their own personal style with it. Look at the designs in the Book of Tiki -- there are so many directions that those carvers went with it. Basement Kahuna is encouraging you all to go back to these classics, soak them up, and find your own style, inspired by the influence of these classics.

Personally, what I see a lot of, is folks taking a basic style (usually something that looks suspiciously Wayne Coombs-ish) and then adding their own touches by adding elements from other, non-Polynesian aspects -- vague tropical elements, imagery from other subcultures, etc. -- rather than finding their own fundamental tiki shapes and styles.

What I think BK is trying to do here, and I wholeheartedly agree with the effort, is to push folks to use their creative muscles a bit more, and also to study the classics. When an artist goes to art school, they are taught the classics, not to recreate them, but to learn from how they structured their pieces, where their influences came from, and how to create their own wonderful pieces by drawing on that influence.

The willingness to take time to create something is great; however the output is not always great, them's the breaks. I would say that there is a lot of room for improvement in the depth of influences being drawn upon by modern tiki artists, and it shows.


Critiki - Critiki News - Ooga-Mooga

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Basement Kahuna
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 3601
From: Jawja Province, Isle of North America
Posted: 2005-11-13 4:51 pm   Permalink

Well said. And precisely what I'm getting at. If Tiki is going to survive as a style, there has to BE a tiki style, and that style is very misunderstood by many. But the resources are there. And the research is there, and you need to passionate about Polynesian art and the history of Polynesian Pop to be passionate about creating tiki, because the two are one and the same. Every word has a definition.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 09, 2004
Posts: 3683
From: The thumb !
Posted: 2005-11-13 4:58 pm   Permalink

If it makes you feel good, do it. Thats the meaning of life. Basement, you will be our carrier of traditional. For the rest of us, we should do a traditional tiki to know the hand of the old masters and do what is in our hearts. And most of all, keep posting pics.

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Basement Kahuna
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 3601
From: Jawja Province, Isle of North America
Posted: 2005-11-13 5:23 pm   Permalink

Thanks a million, teakey, but you miss the point. We are all carriers and evolutionists simultaneously. Humu put it best. How many here can honestly say they've ever dug deeply? How many have a true passion for that knowledge of why we are here in the first place? I'm just not seeing it. Where is the true South Pacific influenced art that IS tiki? Where are the true believers? Where are the strains of Eden Abhez and Martin Denny and Robert Drasnin and Arthur Lyman and Les Baxter and Michael Magne? Where are the Leroy Schmaltz's and Barney Wests and Ed Crissmans and Eli Hedleys and Milan Guankos? Where are the Trader Vic Bergerons and Steve Cranes and Donn Beaches and Bob and Joe Thorntons and Ray Buhens and Danny Balzs? Because I suspect that many don't even know who many or any of these people are...and that's a true shame, because these people are why we are here. These people defined the style, along with many others. Tiki is not a style that knows no boundaries; elsewise there would be no tiki style.

[ This Message was edited by: Basement Kahuna 2005-11-14 10:03 ]

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8FT Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 30, 2003
Posts: 1408
From: Kansas City, MO
Posted: 2005-11-13 6:54 pm   Permalink

I think this thread may be the result of a "slow burn" that can result from a buildup of biting your tounge. Believe me, I'm not the only person who is going to read this thread and wonder if I have: A.) contributed to carrying the torch and protecting the legacy of the pioneers. OR
B.) caused the true tikiphile to say eeek!! What the heck is he doing? I am sure that many of the things posted in creating tiki get a mix of posted replies including the genuinely enthusiastic, the polite encouragement etc. but not so many of the " that sure isn't too tiki in my mind". I know there are styles I wouldn't create myself and wouldn't even want to own and I bet we all have our favorites and a few we just don't like period. I prefer to just not reply instead of offending someone who may be just learning and is too eager to start creating before studying. This may be just what you are getting at. I agree that it wouldn't hurt any of us to delve deeper into the knowledge of our predecessors. It is probably way over due for this subject to be aired out. Not that we will have a definitive outcome but the discussion could persuade some to analyze their direction and how it has or will evolve.
I for one am glad you brought it up and I look forward to many such discussions in person at the carvers seminar in Tennessee next year. Now I have to go whittle me a corn cob pipe tiki. See ya, 8FT

P.S. These little pictures are my tribute to Ed Crissman
whose creation brought me here to TC.

I once was lost............but now I'm found

[ This Message was edited by: 8FT Tiki 2005-11-13 19:00 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 11, 2002
Posts: 2026
From: Aku Hall, Chicago
Posted: 2005-11-13 7:06 pm   Permalink

Bk -

I agree wth most of what you're saying. The part that most resonated for me was in your first post when you said something about 'a big ball of nothingness'.
I think this is an aissue that goes beyond the clan of carvers and into the entire ohana.

A web magazine asked me last year to write a series of articles to be called 'What is Tiki?'. I did the first artcle and then gave up - because sometimes I don't know what Tiki is anymore.

I know what is WAS.
In 1962.
But what is the Tiki community truly all about NOW?

That's not such an easy question to answer anymore.

It seems that out ohana has grown so large and has embraced so many outside influences that it is in real danger of losing any semblance of coherency. This is why I support your posting, and why I support (although I haven't contributed yet) to the Savage Renewal.

Certainly, we can't put up rules and become - as another poster pointed out - fundamentalists. But that said, as more people who know nothing of Tiki - but who are intrigued by it - come into the ohana, and bring the influences of their many and varied walks of life with them, then the thing we call Tiki becomes gradually diluted until it is no longer what we first fell in love with.

The only solution I know is to encourage the growth and expansion of the Tiki ohana world wide, but to also educate without making judgements. To enlighten without telling people that what they've brought to the table is wrong. To diligently remind people of how we got here, and then let them use that history as an inspiration.

And to drink as many Suffering Bastards, as often as possible, with pretty girls, as I am able to.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 04, 2005
Posts: 541
From: Boca Raton, FL
Posted: 2005-11-13 7:46 pm   Permalink

Sounds like the Tiki community is in a stage of growing pains...I for one am new here. I came here out of curiosity with little knowledge, but thats why I'm here, doing my homework. When any community starts to grow, ideas change, influences change and traditions become diluted and forgotten. On the other hand as an earlier post pointed out, new influences are injected into the community. Love them or hate them, they are now part of the group, starting their own chapters in the Neo-Tiki culture. Back in the mid 80's metal music stormed into the main stream. Hardly a day went by that we didnt hear a Winger or Poison song. Right or wrong it did influence our culture. Just watch 'I love the 80's' on VH1 and tell me you dont enjoy the nostalgic trip? It's really no different here with the new carvers. Perhaps we need another term for non traditional tiki sculpture. Call them Car-tikis. Short for cartoon tiki. we should embrace them as part of the community. However we should educate/learn the fundamentals. I have learned so much from reading BK and some of the other forum masters posts and look forward to starting my own unique style of carving. Because of this discussion, I will take more time and investigate more understanding of what I carve. Let us remember, while we may dislike change, it always happens, so lets make the best out of it.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 01, 2002
Posts: 1046
From: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Posted: 2005-11-13 7:47 pm   Permalink

I've read and re-read what is posted here and while I see where you're coming from completely BK I have to support Tiki art that is created from everyone. I can't expect those that are getting their feet wet in this genre to interpret Tiki as I do, to be as passionate about the history or to know what it's like to know of, meet or speak with some of the greats.

I have met several local carvers here in Florida and some of them take a picture directly from the BOT and carve their latest work to look exactly as that photo. I am a fan of their creativity but at the same time encourage them to see inside of that photo and draw from the technique once used and create their own. I think for some, they'll get it and want to know more, and then there are those that are sitting happy with creating copy after copy for the quick $60.

I prefer the classic, it's a personal choice. If I buy a modern carving/weapon/creation, I want to know the artist and feel what went into making and creating the work of art so I can pass it on. But that's just me.
Yee-Haw & Aloha,
Tiki Kiliki

The Hukilau

The Most Authentic Tiki Event in the World and the Official Event Honoring the Mai-Kai est. 1956

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Aaron's Akua
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 09, 2004
Posts: 1596
From: Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
Posted: 2005-11-13 8:48 pm   Permalink

I think it's a growth process. My first tikis were straight out of an art book that I picked up at the local library. The next were a little more advanced (not copies) that I dreamed up from my head without any research. Humuhumu mentioned "chicklet teeth" tikis a while back & I had to chuckle because that was right on the money. Then I tried to copy a master exactly right out of the Book of Tiki (Leroy). That taught me a lot. My latest is based on a traditional Lono with my own styling. That's where I'm heading my work now, and I have to agree with BK. But I also do appreciate ALL of the styles presented here on TC and love to see new artists emerge and evolve much as my work has, and continues to do. It's all a process...

Last week I had the pleasure of sitting with some Tongan carvers on Maui who were 4th and 5th generation carvers starting the craft at age 10 or so. It really expanded my notion of what truly IS tiki. All I can say is keep researching, learning and applying the knowledge to your craft. That is what I am personally trying to do. Thank you BK for bringing this up.


"Ah, good taste! What a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness."
-Pablo Picasso

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Jungle Trader
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 04, 2003
Posts: 3765
From: Trader's Jungle Outpost, Turlock, Ca.
Posted: 2005-11-13 9:12 pm   Permalink

Chicklet teeth. Yep, I'm guilty. Before you even posted this I had been pondering my recent carvings. Which ones can I call "tiki". Some, I suspect, I really shouldn't call tikis. Maybe just large masks or large carvings of funny faces. Some have monkey features, one is a cartoon. I've done Maori, New Guinea and Hawaiian style. As for me, I don't enjoy carving the same face more than once or twice, though I've done an Asian style 3 times and they always sell. I try not to box myself in.
I do appreciate what you are saying BK. It's good to be challenged.

Oki NiKsoKoWa
(Hello all my relatives)

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