by Kathy Hamlin
Q - How long have you been selling Tiki items?
A - I started carving and making ceramics about 8 years ago and I started the web site 6 years ago.
Q - What sparked your interest in Tiki?
A - I am an artist; before I started carving Tikis I was doing smaller 3-dimensional pieces. I had been collecting all sorts of 50's/60's Polynesian pop artifacts and my favorite pieces at the time were the Tiki mugs. I decided to house/display my collection (in what is now the Kapu Tiki room) in a Tiki bar, but I had no large Tiki carvings. Also around that time I saw a 4 foot Tiki at a guy's house and I was just taken by the power of the thing. So I guess that was the motivation in creating my first Tikis.
Q - Do you have a physical shop?
A - Yes, we live on a ranch and we have a work shop where we create all of our Tiki products, we have the Tiki poles and Masks on display. In our bar, the Kapu Tiki Room, we display our ceramics. Sometimes customers who live in the area come by and pick up their merchandise in person, but the majority is purchased through our website.
Q - Why is redwood your medium of choice for carvings?
A - Redwood is only my most recent choice for Tiki carving I still carve palmwood Tikis and any other wood I get hold of. The reason I got into the redwood was I met the guy who designed Witco furniture and art, Witco was the line Elvis chose to decorate his Jungle room with. There are still restaurants/bars that are decorated in the Witco style, so I was a fan of their work from way back. When I started dating my partner (Truus) she lived near Mr. Westerhaver we went and visited him, it turned out he went to the same college as I had and he really inspired me. So after considerable advice from Mr... Westerhaver we started our newest line of masks, bars, wall art, moldings etc...
Q - Your masks all have different names. Do they represent different Tiki Gods? (or should I say
A - Truus names the masks according to their personalities. As far as representing different Gods once I started carving and doing research, I realized that there were not only different styles but different qualities of Tikis. The original Polynesian carvers were trying to convey the "mana" a particular God or person had. Thus their carvings were imbued with the desirable aspects of a subject's personality. One other huge leap for me was finding out about the great California Tiki carvers of the 50's and 60's. There where many guys carving back then and each one had a very distinct style. Most of these guys didn't know what a real Tiki was, so they made up their own Tikis and legends. These carvers based their styles on cartoons, modern and primitive elements, and some of these Tikis are amazing masterpieces. Thus being able to tell one style/carver apart from another and seeing what constituted a Tiki to them was a huge influence on my style.
Q - What is your favorite Tiki story?
A - I guess that would be the first time I met Jeff "Beachbum Berry", Sven Kirsten (the Book of Tiki author) was giving one of his first Tiki symposiums and Jeff was making "authentic" tropical drinks. I was watching Jeff mix the drink up, I took one sip of his Trader Vic Grog and it was as if I had a life changing experience. The reason people used to go to Tiki bars was reviled to me in that moment, I really couldn't believe how great this drink tasted, it was sweet, sour, fruity, multi layered, it was simply amazing. It tasted like no other "tropical drink" I had ever had and at the time I really believed I knew something about these drinks. I immediately started following Jeff around asking him what's in this drink, what is it?! I'm sure I must have come off as weird, but he was nice enough send me a working copy of the first Grog Log, at which time I offered to do the cover. The rest is history.
Q - What is your favorite cocktail?
A - I would rather name my favorite three - Aurora Bora Borealis, Beachcombers Punch (a Don the Beachcomber Drink), and Trader Vic Grog (by Trader Vic) All these drinks are in the Grog Log II and they are amazing cocktails.
PO Box 300024 · Escondido, CA 92030
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