||Tiki Heroes & Carvers of Yore
Joined: Jul 07, 2005
|Posted: 2007-08-02 7:25 pm  Permalink|
I've been doing some Internet research lately. I never find what I want but I often find stuff worth keeping. I found enough articles on past tiki heroes to flesh out a new topic. I hope you see where I'm going with this. Let's start with everyone's favorite relative of Bamboo Ben (right after the lovely Auntie Bungy) Eli Hedley! (From the Nevada State Journal 18 February 1973)
Around the Town
Many who have paid a visit to Trader Dick's new home an the casino addition to John Ascuaga's NUGGET have
been overwhelmed by the color and authenticity of the interior design and decor. The man responsible for
that design is ELI HEDLEY owner and operator of the Island Trade Store, of Midway City, California.
Eli is the man who did the original interior design of the "first" Traders of the NUGGET 13 years ago.
Stories of his work and way of life have appeared in many national publications, including the Wall Street
Journal, and a color picture story in LIFE magazine. Eli is not just an interior decorator and designer.
He is a fascinating man who has devoted his entire life to the collection of beautiful natural artifacts
for the purpose of enhancing man-made structures. Besides his work at the Nugget, he is responsible for the
interior design of Harvey's Top of the Wheel, the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, and bars for Don the
Beachcomber. ELI can be called a beachcomber's beachcomber. He has traveled into some of the remote
corners of the world to find and bring back many of the gems he has incorporated into his designs. It is a
very different way of life he calls. . . fun! ELI began his life's work out of necessity. He was livin with
his family on a small island off the California coast. With very little money, he and his family combed the
beach for certain necessities. The driftwood they found became furniture. A fish net served as drapery,
and old bottles were cut to serve as liquid container. Soon, friends began to notice the beauty of the
necessities, and urged Eli to begin marketing his finds. He did, and that is the way it all began. His
design of the original Trader Dick's was the first full scale work of that sort he ever attempted. His
search for the artifacts that were to appear in Traders took him over much of the South Pacific. He
traveled extensively to find the pieces of authentic island art that now appear in the "new" Traders.
Several of the more unique items at Traders now include the very detailed model of a four masted schooner
that is housed in the glass window behind the bar. The rare New Guinea Tiki that stands at the far end of
the lounge. It is estimated to be more than 150 years old. A Taluma from the Trobrian Islands, and an
original hand-made Samoan outrigger. Eli is particularly proud of the large metal Chinese characters he
found and placed on the side of the smoke ovens in the center of the new restaurant. Literally translated
they say: Happiness, Prosperity and Good Health . . . for all. It was because of the work Eli executed on
the original Trader Dick's thirteen years ago that JOHN ASCUAGA was insistent that Eli return to do the
interior decoration on the new Traders. Most who have visited Traders new home have agreed
enthusiastically with ASCUAGA'S decision to retain Eli. It is that design that gives "new" Traders its good
feeling, color, and character and adds the important touch to dining delights. Trader Dick's at John
Ascuaga's NUGGET- Truly an important part of the Best of Everything.
Joined: Jul 07, 2005
|Posted: 2007-08-02 7:35 pm  Permalink|
And onto maybe a forgotten Tiki carver, Doug Wong. (Anyone know Doug?)
(From the Billings Gazette 21 November 1976)
CAMBRIDGE, Md, The Polynesians carve tiki poles
to commemorate their gods but Ihe ancient art is spreading
In America as a backyard beautification idea or a special
project for Boy Scouts.
Doug Wong, hydroponic specialist at a foods plant in
Cambridge, has been creating tiki poles from old telephone
poles for tlie past five years.
"A TIKI POLE Is similar lo the American Indian totem
pole except the tiki pole is a representation of a single god
while the totem pole depicts an entire family or clan," said
Wong during a break In his bean sprout research.
To make a tiki pole, Wong recommends this equipment:
A six lo eight-foot long section of telephone pole
A sharp hatchet
A hand-held propane torch
And this lesson in mind slice the tree and not the
Wong's initial attempt at carving a tiki pole in 1971 resulted
in a four-Inch gash in his left knee when his hatchet
skimmed off the pole. After the cast was removed, Wong
reapproached the art with a healthy respect for safety.
"WHEN I MOVED from Seatlle to Cambridge to work
in the foods company's bean sprout program, I brought the
original pole with me," Wong says. "I figured it cost me
$1000 in hospital bills."
One of Ihe hardest parts of making a tiki pole is obtaining
the pole itself. Telephone companies generally give away
their old or damaged poles but there is often a waiting list.
The pole also should be at least one to two feet thick, according
Once the pole is secured, Ihe next step is choosing the
design. Wong recommends that those unfamiliar with the
Polynesian style check the library for examples of tiki pole
USING A HATCHET, thee face should be roughly outlined.
When tile pattern is on the pole, carefully chop down
to the desired depth while Irying to keep the cut wood as
smooth as possible.
Singe the pattern with the torch. Besides smoothing out
the wood, Ihls also creates a burnished effect that highlights
the natural grain of the wood. Finally, go over the pole with
a stiff whisk broom to remove the ash and burned wood
chips. At the suggestion of plant manager Al Schuchardt,
Wong recently instrucled members of the Boy Scout Troop
No. 298 in Cambridge on tiki pole caning. The scouts made
two poles lo use in their Bicentennial celebrations and also
hope to use them to raise money for community projects
tiki poles have sold for as much as $850.
"IT CAN BE A DANGEROUS hobby if you push yourself
too fast," Wong said. "It will take about 50 hours of
working time lo make a pole but it's very enjoyable and satisfying."
Wong first saw tiki poles when he was in the South Pacific
us a merchant marine. But it wasn't until a telephone
crew removed an old pole from in front of his home that he
had the inspiration to carve one himself.
Creating a tiki pole can be fun, but just remember to
keep the hatchet in the wood and away from the legs.
Joined: Jul 07, 2005
|Posted: 2007-08-02 7:40 pm  Permalink|
Then there's Oregon's Mike McVay. Anybody know Mike?????
(from the Bridgeport Telegram 14 January 1966)
INSTANT ANCIENT ART Oregon artist Mike McVay
uses a chain saw to turn out commercial replicas of ancient
Tiki god statues and Indian totem poles. He is one of a dozen
or more such artists in the Pacific Northwest who carve with
chain saws, ideal for this type of carving, says Omark Industries,
Inc., because they cut with a chisel action.
Joined: Jul 07, 2005
|Posted: 2007-08-02 7:52 pm  Permalink|
How about Kenneth Vance of Pennsylvania?
(from the Gettysburg Times 26 August 1972)
...Vance's creations are designed to project the Polynesian and American influence.
Vance, who has been carving since he was 13 years old got his professional start by
volunteering to help his wife. Mrs. Vance and a friend planned a Polynesian Party
for their Ohio home. Something seemed to be lacking in decorations. Vance
volunteered to make a Polynesian tiki if he could. The carved device proved so
popular he decided to try his hand at making a totem pole....
Joined: Jul 07, 2005
|Posted: 2007-08-02 8:05 pm  Permalink|
and maybe one you were scared by Melvin J Freitas' work as a youngster. Who's in Long Beach? Is his tiki face still there?
(from the Long Beach Independent 13 November 1961)
A frowning Polynesian Goddess
of Happiness appeared
Sunday upon the trunk of a
60-foot palm tree, to the delight
of the property owner
and chagrin of the Long Beach
The Tiki, as all proper Polynesian
gods and goddesses are
named, was carved into the
stately palm by Melvin Jerry
Frietas who learned the Tiki
carving trade in his native
Frietas, 29, who now makes
his home at 1824 California
Ave., is a professional wood
sculptor and his work graces
many of the finer restaurants
of the Long Beach area.
HE CARVED the 36-inch
high Tiki for his friend, Al
Taylor, a Long Beach contractor,
on one of two palm
trees spanning a driveway at
270 Nevada St.
Frietas, a goateed, husky
man of Portuguese, French
and Spanish descent, was halfway
through his carving when
he was interrupted by arrival
of two uniformed policemen
who escorted him to police
Although Taylor owns the
property, the officers said,
the city of Long Beach owns
everything between the side-
walk and the curb. And city
fathers are likely to frown as
deeply as the Tiki if a wood-
man doesn't spare their trees.
BUT, AFTER about 30 minutes,
Frietas was returned by
police to his carving.
"The tree is good as ever."
said Frietas. I covered the
Tiki with a tree sealer to
keep out the bugs. It's like,
putting back the bark."...
Joined: Jul 07, 2005
|Posted: 2007-08-02 8:09 pm  Permalink|
*YAWN* More tomorrow unless I get complaints.
Joined: Oct 05, 2005
|Posted: 2007-08-02 8:30 pm  Permalink|
no complaints here pappy. i'm enjoying these posts. mahalo brah.
Joined: Sep 14, 2004
From: Sydney, Australia
|Posted: 2007-08-02 9:29 pm  Permalink|
Joined: Aug 30, 2006
From: Aotearoa (New Zealand)
|Posted: 2007-08-02 9:58 pm  Permalink|
Very interesting and much appreciated.
|The Granite Tiki|
Joined: Jul 02, 2005
From: Nashua, NH
|Posted: 2007-08-02 10:54 pm  Permalink|
I love Pappy's Research threads!
Grand Member (8 years)
Joined: Jun 24, 2002
|Posted: 2007-08-02 11:31 pm  Permalink|
Barnacle Bill from redondo beach?
Grand Member (first year)
Joined: Jun 21, 2006
|Posted: 2007-08-02 11:40 pm  Permalink|
Joined: Sep 21, 2003
From: Yucaipa, CA
|Posted: 2007-08-03 05:05 am  Permalink|
Most excellent. Thank you. More please.
Joined: Nov 23, 2005
From: Attica, MI
|Posted: 2007-08-03 07:00 am  Permalink|
Sweeet. Love the article on the goddess carving that makes police nervous, a view to times gone by.
Joined: Jan 09, 2004
From: Port Saint Lucie, Florida
|Posted: 2007-08-03 07:25 am  Permalink|
I agree, Keep'em Coming!