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Tiki Central Forums Collecting Tiki Witco, Kaiser, McVay
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Witco, Kaiser, McVay
J.S.G.
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 10, 2006
Posts: 39
From: an island in washington
Posted: 2006-04-11 02:02 am   Permalink

Hello,

I'm new to this forum. I'm developing an interest in Witco. I first heard about Witco thru Michael who chainsaw carved in the 1964 World Fair in New York, he also made chainsaw carved furniture similar to Witco. So who came first McVay or Witco?

Also there is Ken Kaiser who carved many of the mural at the Trees of Mystery in Northern California in 1960. The simplistic style that he uses is because of the heaviness of the chainsaw, back in the 1950's. He would burn his pieces real heavy as did Mike. Carving with a heavy saw would leave things rough, and burning was a technique to smooth out the slivers.

I wrote a book called the Art of Chainsaw Carving, in in I mentioned the book by William Westenhaver and Ron Hovde as the first on Chainsaw Carving, (1978)

You can see one of Kaiser pieces and some of the early pioneer chainsaw carvers here
http://www.groeschen.com/book.html under the chain of events.

I was not familiar with the Witco style until after the book was printed, but more pictures and info can be added in the revision.

Anyway, hope this discussion continues



[ This Message was edited by: j.s.g. 2006-04-23 11:09 ]

[ This Message was edited by: J.S.G. 2006-04-23 11:11 ]

[ This Message was edited by: J.S.G. 2006-04-23 17:38 ]


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11003
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2006-04-11 06:50 am   Permalink

Wow, a whole new world opens up! Chainsaw carving events, motor cycle daredevils jumping over 40 running chainsaws, etc...very cool!

Jessie, you will be glad to hear that my new book "Tiki Modern and the Wild World of Witco" will answer many of your questions regarding William Westenhaver and his company, more so than my last tome, The Book of Tiki, which only hinted at his oeuvre with 5 pages. Nevertheless, that "hinting" (plus revealing the Elvis' Jungle Room connection) was enough to make "Witco" a buzzword in the Tiki community and on e-bay, and turn it into a highly collectable commodity.

I do believe that Bill Westenhaver is a pioneer in chainsaw carving, wielding the powertool like a paint brush, and that my new book (due out Aug/Sept.06) will help establish the artistic value of the form. I will reprint a couple of the pages from his instruction booklet, and also had a friend draw up a tongue-in-cheek "Evolution of Tiki Carving" chart which ends in the chainsaw as the main tool of that modern art form.

Here on TC you will find lots of interesting info regarding carving with powertools in the "Creating Tiki" forum. I do not know about Ken Kaiser or Mike McVay and would love to see some of their works. Bill started doing his stuff in the very early 60s, so he might be slightly ahead of McVay. The commercial success of Witco also spurned a couple of imitators of the style, working with that same thick grained swamp cedar. Some were ex-employees, some just Northern Cal/Oregon wood artists who saw that the stuff was selling.


 
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J.S.G.
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 10, 2006
Posts: 39
From: an island in washington
Posted: 2006-04-11 07:37 am   Permalink

Hi Bigbrotiki. I will look for your book in Sept. How exciting!

I'll post pictures of Ken's work and Mike's later on in the day, once I figure out how to on this forum. Yes, I did go thru some old newsletters of The Cutting Edge, a journal by The Cascade Chainsaw Sculptors Guild, the 1993 issue Mike says he was turned on to chainsaw carving in 1957 when a friend showed he a picture of a tiki carved with a chainsaw. In the early 1960's he read an article on a company in Washington State that was creating furniture with it. That gave him the idea one could actually make money with the tool. He eventually started carving on the shores of Eel Lake, Oregon, with an ax, in 1959, his father recommend he use a chainsaw. Ken Kaiser, wow, amazing sculptor, he did not do much furniture, but his work at the Trees of Mystery is Northern Calif is incredible. He created 80 large redwood sculptures in a span of 6 months. And they are good! It has poetic magic behind it, like he was possessed by the muses beautiful madness. A brief history of Mike and Ken are in my book... perhaps you would like to trade books? For Your first book of Tiki's? My book is doing pretty good (according to the publishers)l, Chainsaw/Power Carving Events is big right now...we should have a Tiki Theme Chainsaw / Power Carving Contest, wouldn't that be fun.

I did a bit a research on Bill ... sounds like he was from Washington State and his book was printed in Mt. Vernon, Washington. So the wood he used was not Swamp Cedar. (Being a wood carver myself )The wood is Western Red Cedar. The same wood that the native totem carvers of the Northwest Coast have used for thousands of years. Tiki's and totems are very similar. What is your opinion? Or what is the definition for tiki?

This is forum is great... a whole new world of Tiki's is opening up for me. I'll have to carve one.

[ This Message was edited by: J.S.G. 2006-04-11 08:50 ]

[ This Message was edited by: J.S.G. 2006-04-23 17:41 ]


 
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freddiefreelance
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Joined: Feb 15, 2003
Posts: 2987
From: San Diego, Ca.
Posted: 2006-04-11 08:15 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2006-04-11 02:02, J.S.G. wrote:
I wrote a book called the Art of Chainsaw Carving.


The Art of Chainsaw Carving, Jessie Groeschen, Fox Chapel Publishing (September 28, 2005) ISBN: 156523250X
_________________
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J.S.G.
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 10, 2006
Posts: 39
From: an island in washington
Posted: 2006-04-11 09:55 am   Permalink

Hello all, for your enjoyment, some photos of Kaisers work at the Trees of Mystery
carved in 1960/1961 about 4' wide by 7' high

Max the Back




Mike with one of his giant murals at the 1964 Worlds Fair in New York, both him and Ken Kaiser were invited by the Governor of Oregon, Mike Hatfield to represent the state of Oregon. Mike returned in 1965 and carved 50 totem poles represnting each state.


Here is my entry, 8 feet high by 3 feet wide, Back view


Front View




[ This Message was edited by: J.S.G. 2006-04-26 10:07 ]


 
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J.S.G.
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 10, 2006
Posts: 39
From: an island in washington
Posted: 2006-04-11 1:14 pm   Permalink

In the book by Hal Macintosh, Chainsaw Carving: The Art and Craft. It has a footnote that artist Mike Gildea, Manhattan Beach, California uses a chain saw for Tiki Wood Sculpture in 1960. Is he a well known Tiki Carver?

[ This Message was edited by: J.S.G. 2006-04-11 13:14 ]


 
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J.S.G.
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 10, 2006
Posts: 39
From: an island in washington
Posted: 2006-04-11 10:25 pm   Permalink

Art history is so much fun...
The McVay Family Carving...

Not only did Mike carve, but the whole family, his sisters Judy and Eileen and brother, Pat, they had a family business at one time shipping carved furniture and decorative items around the world. At it's height they had 13 employees. Pat, who I spoke with today, (we live on the same island) the younger brother of Mike remembers...Mike complaining about Witco stealing his designs! Both companies were in Washington.. Is it possible they were influencing each other, a whole art movement...like the impressionist painters, renoir, monet, manet...later gaugin, and van gogh, who caught the tail end of that movement and went in his own divine direction.

The interesting thing, today is Mike lives here on Whidbey Island, Washington and William, 45 minutes away.

Here is a bed carved and painted by Judy McVay


Totems left to right, Mike, Pat, Rob Chalk of Australia


The Evolution of the Electric Guitar by Pat, for the Hard Rock Cafe in Whistler BC.




[ This Message was edited by: J.S.G. 2006-04-11 22:50 ]

[ This Message was edited by: j.s.g. 2006-04-24 10:13 ]

[ This Message was edited by: J.S.G. 2006-04-26 10:09 ]


 
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RevBambooBen
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 12, 2002
Posts: 7417
From: Huntikington Beach
Posted: 2006-04-11 10:58 pm   Permalink

I really dig this one.


Welcome aboard J.S.G.

You get in touch with Benzart yet??

Go to the "Creating Tiki" forum. He's in there somewhere.

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Bamboo Ben
Custom Tropical Decor
I build Tiki Rooms for you! Just ask around ;)
http://www.facebook.com/bambooben


 
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RevBambooBen
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 12, 2002
Posts: 7417
From: Huntikington Beach
Posted: 2006-04-11 11:01 pm   Permalink

p.s. Keigs/ Ken Pleasant is the Grandson in law of William W. of Witco. He's on this forum also. He's a cool dude.
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Bamboo Ben
Custom Tropical Decor
I build Tiki Rooms for you! Just ask around ;)
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Sneakytiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 31, 2003
Posts: 1795
From: Boise, Idaho
Posted: 2006-04-12 01:37 am   Permalink

JSG,

I've been enjoying your book for the last couplah' months. I found a beautiful seal carved out of ?sequoia? in the thrift store locally. It was a bit scuffed up so I cleaned it up, the name on the carving said RL Blair. When I ran a search on google I discovered your book. The seal is now hanging in my tiki room with two large Witco's for company.


 
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Sneakytiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 31, 2003
Posts: 1795
From: Boise, Idaho
Posted: 2006-04-12 01:42 am   Permalink

JSG, Bamboo Ben is the grandson of Eli Hedley who carved the stone moai for the Las Vegas AKU AKU. Eli Hedley is tiki royalty and one of the originators if not the originator of the american tiki style.
Ben makes alot of great bamboo/tiki art that can be seen in creating tiki.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11003
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2006-04-12 09:17 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2006-04-11 07:37, J.S.G. wrote:
Yes, I did go thru some old newsletters of The Cutting Edge, a journal by The Cascade Chainsaw Sculptors Guild, the 1993 issue Mike says he was turned on to chainsaw carving in 1957 when a friend showed he a picture of a tiki carved with a chainsaw.


Aha! Tiki, god of the artists, inspiring yet another artist's career!

Quote:
In the early 1960's he read an article on a company in Washington State that was creating furniture with it. That gave him the idea one could actually make money with the tool.


Was that Witco, then?

Quote:
A brief history of Mike and Ken are in my book, the Art of Chainsaw Carving... perhaps you would like to trade books? For Your first book of Tiki's?


Definitely, let's. I sent you a personal message (click under "personal messages" above)

Quote:

I did a bit a research on Bill ... sounds like he was from Washington State and his book "Fun and Profitable Chainsaw Carving" was printed in Mt. Vernon, Washington. So the wood he used was not Swamp Cedar. (Being a wood carver myself )The wood is Western Red Cedar.


I dunno, that term somehow stuck with me from my talks with Bill. In any case, it was wood that was cheap because it could not be used in construction and nobody wanted it.

Quote:

The same wood that the native totem carvers of the Northwest Coast have used for thousands of years. Tiki's and totems are very similar.


I agree. Although totems never became a pop culture like Tikis. That's what we are into here, the kitsch aspect, and through that, authentic Polynesian culture.
Bill Westenhaver told me he once taught American indians how to carve totems with a chainsaw.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11003
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2006-04-12 09:33 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2006-04-11 13:14, J.S.G. wrote:
In the book by Hal Macintosh, Chainsaw Carving: The Art and Craft. It has a footnote that artist Mike Gildea, Manhattan Beach, California uses a chain saw for Tiki Wood Sculpture in 1960. Is he a well known Tiki Carver?



Not really, only locally, in L.A. His Tikis were pretty whacky (which is not to say that's bad!):
Mike Gildea apprenticed with George Luke at Trader Luke's in San Pedro. Mainly dealing in Marine salvage, Trader Luke also carved very primitive Tikis when the trend hit. From there Mike opened his own Tiki shop in Manhattan Beach, on 38th Place and Manhattan Avenue, where he was joined by Bill Johnston. He later worked with his wife Georgia out of their home in Manhattan Beach.
When you get my book, you can see some of Mike's work on page 221, his Tikis supporting a yellow tiled box apartment building in Manhattan Beach.


 
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J.S.G.
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 10, 2006
Posts: 39
From: an island in washington
Posted: 2006-04-12 1:49 pm   Permalink

This is definately a fascinating place.

Yes, some tiki's are kitschy. And believe me I do my share of kitschy things. But also I find tiki's powerful and mysterious. I don't know enough about it to make deep comments. But, I'm learning more from this forum. Thanks for sharing. I'm checking out the creating tiki forums and other peoples work. Fantastic! My head is just spinning.

RL Blair, what a score. He has carved most of the Disney stuff at Disney parks around the world. And William Shatner has a collection of his work.

To answer the question above about Mike in 1960 seeing a catalog... he didn't say but more than likely it probably was a Witco thing. Mike had a production thing going in the Wilamette Valley in Oregon in the mid 1960's. Then he headed for Paris for 10 years were he wrote, directed and acted in plays, some world premiere with Sam Shepard, etc. and carved some. Later in the mid 1970's to the early 80's in Washington, he started the production thing again, with his brothers and sisters.

I dig Witco's art. The man had a good sense of design and flair, and production sense. I see parallels in Mikes work and Witco...Like I see parallels in Tiki's and Totems. An ocean separates the West Coast of America from the Polyensian islands, who knows maybe a tiki or totem floated from one shore to the other.



 
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fatuhiva
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 634
From: Melbourne Beach, FL
Posted: 2006-04-12 9:52 pm   Permalink

Just popping in here- I have a copy of the Westenhaver/Witco Chainsaw Carving book if anyone needs a reference

 
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