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The Aku Aku Room
Hale Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 19, 2004
Posts: 1799
From: Pittsburgh
Posted: 2013-07-03 12:23 pm   Permalink

As some of you may know, I've been on this site for almost 10 years now. I've asked a ton of advice, made a ton of posts, and learned a lot. For that, I have to give you all a big Mahalo Nui Loa!

Three years ago now, I bought my first house. It's 1265sq ft, and was built in 1900. It's a rowhome, but I'm not going to hold that against it, because it was $6000. No, I'm not missing a 0 there. A 1265sq ft home with a small front and back yard, in move-in(ish) condition for $6000. It was a forclosure, and they wouldn't let me turn on the utilities to get it inspected. The asked $8k, I told them without turning on the utilities, the best I could do was $6K. What's the worst they could say, no? Well, they said yes, and I moved in about 6 months later. Construction on the house has been VERY slow. Right after I moved in, I took a second job. Then found the wahine for me, and it has been a whirlwind ever since. But I've left out an important part. The bar. The dining room of the place, which I'll provide photos of in the next few days, is wood paneling. But not your everyday wood paneling, wood paneling with a transparent green stain over it. Looks like it could be the background in an August Holland painting. It SCREAMED Tiki bar.

Fast forward to three years later, and I've got a basement full of Tiki just waiting to be turned into a bar. Bamboo, tapa cloth (both modern and historical), real fishing net, 40+ glass globes waiting to be turned into floats, 15 or so tourist floats, artifacts from Papua New Guinea, NOS cork floats, a hundred or more new mugs, artwork (both modern and antique), the list goes on and on. I've even had help from some wonderful tiki-folk (I'm looking at you, Sven. Among others). And I've been very fortunate in finding wonderful pieces that you all will see in the coming months. Some come with marvelous stories.

Why post now, you might be asking yourself. BECAUSE SHIT JUST GOT REAL. Of all of the things I've tried to track down, Black Lava Rock has been the hardest. It's still plentiful, and available from Hawaii, but shipping to the mainland is expensive. So, I called all of the landscaping places I could find within two hours. I stopped at everyone I saw, including industrial stone supply houses. You know, the kind that supply rocks and the like to big companies for massive construction. Nothing. Nada. Recently, I was tipped off by my mother, who found some in Ohio. And at least half the cost of having them shipped, if not less! (Still would cost a few hundred dollars for the stones. But they were uncut, and some were just big boulders. So off I set on finding a rock cutter who could turn them into stones for the front of bar. I was trying to replicate the look seen on, well, I forget what page of the BOT it was, but I've been in love with it since the first time I saw it. Black lava rock with white between, who back wall of the bar. I found a stone cutter, but they'd never cut lava rock, and weren't sure if they could do it. The project was put on the back shelf, and that, along with another setback (that has since been solved (more on that later too!)), the bar has been on hold as I acquire more and more, and have spent the summer going to events. Hukilau, Ohana, and I will be performing at Hot Rod Hula Hop.

Fast forward to yesterday. On the way home, I had the urge to stop at Construction Junction. Now, usually when I get an inkling to stop at a thrift store, antique store, and anything of that ilk, it always turns out well. But yesterday my wahine was sick, so I drove straight home. CJ, for those of you not from Pittsburgh, is an architectural salvage place that is generally pretty reasonably priced. While I was at lunch today, I got a phone call from TC's own Pan Am Pia, who happens to be a good friend, and a fellow Pittsburgh resident. She's screams with excitement that she's found a pile of lava rock! She was on the way home from work, when she got the inkling to stop at CJ. Unlike me, however, she didn't fight it, and she stopped in. As she's describing it to me, she realizes there's a second pallet! We hang up, and I call the store to see how much it is. Now, they only take down old buildings, so I know it has to be old (more on that later). The woman puts me on hold for a long time, and when she comes back, she tells me it's $20. TWENTY DOLLARS. I stumble over my words as I ask her if they'll please take a credit card over the phone. They WILL! So at 5PM today, I'll be heading over to pick up my two pallets of lava rock, and find out what building it came from. Hopefully I can track down the original builders, or at least get a date to know when the rock was put in. The photo isn't very good, and I'll post more later, but as of right now, I'm so excited that I'm running around telling people at work...like a crazy person.

Now that I have the stone, my last hurdle is surmounted, and construction can begin. I've got a LOT of fun things in store, and am hoping that my home bar will rival some of the classic tiki bars. Except, you know, it'll be a single room. Then again, the Tiki Ti is a single room, so we'll see what I can't throw together. Mahalo for reading, and I hope you'll enjoy the adventure as 10 years of Tiki culminates in the construction of: THE AKU AKU ROOM!

[ This Message was edited by: Hale Tiki 2013-07-04 16:22 ]

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Grand Member (5 years)  

Joined: May 09, 2012
Posts: 1860
From: San Diego
Posted: 2013-07-03 12:46 pm   Permalink

Wow, congrats! I am excited to see the progression. Get to work.

Good job on the house. I haven't heard of anything cheaper than that, EVER. I guess you bought at the right time.

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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 7048
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2013-07-03 12:50 pm   Permalink

A home for $6000.00
two pallets of lava rock for $20.00
what kind of crazy economy do you have there?

Here in California (where we have Lava fields from real volcano's, still dormant I hope, within a couple hours drive)
I still will pay around $100.00 for about 4 medium sized Lava rocks! from the local building supply.

This project looks to be a "Bat shit crazy good, but still insane, because it needs to be" build Hale Tiki!
looking forward to seeing it come to fruition and love the "Aku Aku" choice, one of my favorites too.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 15, 2002
Posts: 2331
From: Costa Mesa
Posted: 2013-07-03 1:13 pm   Permalink

No kidding, ATP...
Looking forward to seeing the build, Lucky!


[ This Message was edited by: Luckydesigns 2013-07-03 13:19 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 25, 2012
Posts: 167
From: Twain Harte, CA
Posted: 2013-07-03 2:09 pm   Permalink

Hale Tiki,

Get that bad boy built.

Please take a ton of photo's of the process, it's great to see and as a reference for you later.


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 08, 2010
Posts: 503
From: Western Australia
Posted: 2013-07-03 8:01 pm   Permalink

What a sensational intro!! Really piqued and looking forward to more.

Congratulations on buying the house, wow, that's something you don't
hear every day!! Best of luck with the build, and about those inklings,
it never ceases to amaze how things just seem to fall into place, or as
you approach some place or other you just know there's something inside
just waiting for you.

Cheers mate.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 1317
From: NJ
Posted: 2013-07-03 8:10 pm   Permalink

You, sir, are the ultimate bargain hunter! What an impressive beginning.....

Can't wait to hear (and see) more!

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Joined: Jul 02, 2013
Posts: 4
From: NW Arkansas
Posted: 2013-07-03 10:04 pm   Permalink

Amazing! Thanks for sharing this journey with us. May your endeavors be forwarded swiftly by the tropical winds of Tiki-Ti.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 29, 2004
Posts: 2094
From: San Pedro, CA
Posted: 2013-07-04 12:28 pm   Permalink

Fantastic! Looking forward to the progress pics!! This is going to be one to watch fo sho!!

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Hale Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 19, 2004
Posts: 1799
From: Pittsburgh
Posted: 2013-07-04 4:59 pm   Permalink

Tiki-Ti? What? Who? Where? I'LL HAVE A RAY'S MISTAKE!

What do you mean it wasn't magically transported to Pittsburgh? DAMMIT!

So now that I've got over the heartache of NOT being within an hour or two of the Tiki-Ti, I'll have to take solace in my home bar. As some of you pointed out, I am, in fact, a bargain hunter. I grew up without money, and it taught me to be a spendthrift, but as I grew up, I developed a taste for the finer things. Which meant that I had to combine the two. eBay will be the end of me, as will thrift stores, antique stores, and the internet. I spent thousands of hours over the past 10 years scouring the internet, and stores, and I only wish I knew what I know now when I started. I've seen some amazing things in my day, and I've only ever sold two tiki items that I've come across. A Hoffman Pottery Kahiki Mug, and a Witco Outrigger. The first one I deeply regret selling. I found it in the "wild," and I needed the money as a college student. The second was the Outrigger. It's so big, and I just do not have the space for it. I'm okay with that one.

But I digress, more stories for another time. So this morning we got up early to unload all the super sharp lava rock. This stuff:

Oh, that's right, MR TIKI! He's still here in Pittsburgh. I'll be updating that thread when I have time, but after going cliff diving, he came to me, traveled to the Hukilau, Ohana Luau on the Lake, and will be going to Hot Rod Hula Hop. If anyone would like to take him at HRHH, please let me know. If not, I'll mail the little guy out. So shoot me a message if you've got some tiki places for Mr Tiki to go.

So that was Mr Tiki helping us load the rock. I got there at about 5:40, and the place closed at 6. So I knew we had a very limited time to get loaded. The wahine threw on a pair of gloves and really hoofed to make it happen. We got all three pallets loaded by...oh, that's right, there weren't two pallets, there were THREE pallets! We managed to get it loaded in time with minimal cuts. Turns out that it wasn't basalt, the type of lava rock I was looking for. It's pumice, which is still volcanic rock, cellular in nature, and contains glass. So it's sharp. Very sharp. I'm pretty sure it's pumice. If anyone has any other ideas about it, please let me know. I am by no means a geologist.

This morning we woke up somewhat early to unload the cars in 80-some degree weather. We got it all unloaded, and it made quite the large pile. I'd say 4x3x3' stacked against the fence. It was hot, and pointy, but there it is. It is covered in leftover paint, backer board, and some rusty nails. It is most definitely old, and I'm dying to track down where it came from. What building, and where they got it from. I'd love to be able to pin down just where it originated from. Of course, I'm hoping for somewhere tropical. It varies in color from light to medium grey, with the occasional white or black streaks.

She's hot, and sweaty, and didn't want to pose for a photo. But there she is. I just made her do it so that I could give her credit for all the help she has been, and will be in the progress with the bar. Also, she puts up with me, and my special brand of crazy.

That's it for now. Oh, and I got some more to add to the rum collection over the weekend. Which made me VERY happy. Because free delicious rum is a beautiful thing. It's four types of Brinley Gold Shipwreck Rum.

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