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Tiki Central / Tiki Carving

Johnnyp Tut 2/19

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I’ve been visiting for a while. We are getting our first accumulating snowfall of the year here just north of Detroit MI. I’m sitting here drinking a rum punch remembering how great summer was and I decided to finally join.

We put a pool in last year and this year was the fun part of bringing a little of the tropics to definitely not the tropical climate of Michigan.

This is a view of our pool from our back deck. I did all of the carvings.

Our Tiki Hut

I remember as a young kid being at Disney World with my grandparents and Adventure Land was my favorite. Thanks to Sven’s BOT for the picture and the fond memories it brought back.

Our Tiki Bar

Some of the tikis.

A Leroy inspired piece. Again thanks to BOT.

Ku stopped by. His scowl is worse now he has two inches of snow on his head. He is six and half feet tall.

I hope you enjoyed the tour. I'll post some more when I get time.
Thanks. JohnnyP

edited for spelling- rum does not help spelling!

[ Edited by: JohnnyP 2010-12-16 12:09 ]

[ Edited by: JohnnyP 2011-01-30 14:19 ]

[ Edited by: JohnnyP 2012-02-19 19:09 ]

Welcome aboard. You have a great looking yard.

Stick around and share more of your carvings.

Great stuff. So glad you joined us.

Welcome to TC Johnny!
Your private oasis looks like a good place to hang in the summer that is. We are expecting snow tonight also.
I just ordered a pool for the spring and we are in the planning stages of where the Tikis will go. A 4' spitting Moai is completed with many more to come.
Thanks for sharing!

Loki posted on Thu, Nov 24, 2005 4:57 AM

Looks fantastic, fun and rum drink approved. Welcome

Another Northern tier Tikiphile...welcome aboard! Impressed with your carvings...nice
variety of styles....I really like the guys above your hut!


Welcome to Tiki Central, JohnnyP,
Where have you been for so long? Obviously you have been carving tikis fro awhile and have carved some Excellent ones at that. Methinks you should get more logs and create more tikis.


really cool backyard. Can we come for drinks ?

Your own little Adventureland, great job! What I always am interested in is:

What do neighbours, family or visitiors say that do not know Tiki when they are faced with such a "strange" wonderland?
I know Detroit has a small Tiki scene, but I am sure there are many Tiki village builders whose tropical havens are completely isolated islands in the sub-urban sea of conformity.

Aloha JohnnyP!

Northern tikiphiles unite! Maybe if we create enough tiki in the Midwest we can bring the winter temps up a few degrees. We should have bamboo and palm tree forests growing in no time. :)

Your yard looks terrific and you should be proud as hell. If you ever get down our way stop by the Leeward Lounge for a drink or two. (here's the bar I'm building http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=14116&forum=7&86 )

Welcome aboard! Nice looking yard space...!


hewey posted on Fri, Nov 25, 2005 3:21 AM

Cool yard - looks like a good spot to spend many an afternoon with a drink in hand. You should fit right in :)


What a warm welcome. Thanks a lot. I appreciate all the kind comments coming from the very talented individuals this site has!!!!

BigBroTiki- To answer your question about the reactions people have, I get the whole range of responses, from “Wow, this is really cool!“ to the “this guy is weird” looks. We live out in the country and our yard is not in sight of any the neighbours so we don’t have the “neighbour-hood convention” thing to worry about. You mentioned Detroit has a minor Tiki scene, but I have never met another “Tiki person.” Tiki is a big unknown in this county, as we live about a half hour north of the suburbs -mostly farmland.

The family has been supportive. They were a little unsure of what it was at first, but after letting them flip through the BOT they understand I wasn‘t the only one with this bizarre interest. After a few “Grog Log” / pool parties they have been getting into it. Ironically, even though Tiki is big with the younger people now, my grandmother was the one who recognised it first and help ease the transition for the rest.

It is always interesting when somebody new comes to visit, such as our daughter‘s friends parents. We’re used to the way the house/yard looks and somewhat forget how different it is from most people are used to. Visitors tend to start politely looking around at the art in our house unsure of what to say. It’s fun to watch them try to figure it out. The questions eventually start to flow.

I promised I would post some more items. My biggest interest is in New Guinea wood carvings and I’ve been trying to recreate some of the pieces in the books I’ve managed to locate.

Here is some samples of our inside tiki items. I am fortunate my wife is very supportive and allows me to display these pieces in the living room.


Small Yipwan -This is actually my version one in "Night of the Tiki" pg 42.

Large Yipwan

Cult Figure

Thanks for looking! More to come.

GMAN posted on Fri, Nov 25, 2005 1:34 PM


Wow, party at your house????? :)

But seriously, those are some really fantastic carvings. I'm glad you decided to join and post your works. You carvings really made me smile today. Please keep us up to date with your work and please post progress pics so we can follow along.

Welcome aboard!


Aloha Johnny P!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nice back yard my friend! It looks like youve been having some fun carving?(nice carvings)
I grew up outside of lansing on the east side. Where abouts do you hale from my friend? Stay warm and tropical,Aloha, Mooney


Thanks again for the feedback.

I live in Attica MI, It's a small village directly north (a ways) of Detroit.

I'd love to have a party here, but it is freezing here, 13 degrees this morning. We could wear snowmobile suits and drink Hot Buttered Rum. Wouldn't have a problem with too much ice diluting the drinks and they would stay cold for a while.

Maybe next summer!!!


A couple more pictures. Sorry I did not load them all at once but with dial up it takes a long, long time.

This is my interpretation of an Abelam maternity figure board. It is rather flat so the details don‘t show up to well in a photograph.

This is a New Guinea flute stopper, the original was short-about 18 inches I think, but I liked the style so I made it about 4.5 feet tall and 5 inches diameter at the thickest. It is almost all open work, and took a while to carve away even with a chainsaw doing 95 percent of the work.

The fish is a skull reliquary styled after a bonito fish- influence is Solomon Islands. About 5 feet long and hanging over the back of the couch as a room divider .



More Excellent stuff JohnnyP. We don't get much PNG art created here and it is refreshing to see and especially your highly authentic looking pieces.

Ditto what Benzart said. I love the PNG stuff.

Your carvings are wonderful. I, too, agree with what Ben said...not much PNG stuff around here...Your aging process makes for a very authentic looking carving as well.

P.S. Those Yipwan figures are awesome...makes me want to try one!


Gman. Your work is cool. I think it was you who hates to sand, I couldn’t agree more. Your tripod tiki was hilarious. I made one after I saw yours but in a totally different style, maybe if I get the nerve I’ll post it. I'll do a progress series soon. I do have some pictures of the big ku in the back yard while I was carving (if I can find them)

Benzart You are the master. I don’t know how you get your work so precise. I’ve tried even with the sharpest X-acto and still can’t get the detail you can. Thanks for the step by steps and a goal to strive for.

BK. I have been rallied to try some clubs per your post. I haven’t done any weapons yet, but you are right, it seems like every post card has some on the walls on the background. A yipwan is what started my PNG replication craze. Thanks for the complements. As far as my ageing process. I use really old wood. Seriously, I just use odds and ends of stain and no sealant.

Finkdaddy. I’ve been watching your bar build for a while now it‘s looking good. Wish I had the indoor space for one. I have to use the kitchen. There is lot of great talent on the other side of the lake in Wisconsin.

Chair. I found this online as a sample page of some book on oceanic art. I wish I could remember what book it was. If it looks familiar please reply.

Trader Vic Mask From BOT pg 53. My wife did the painting.

Ceremonial Bowl from Oceanic Art- Anthony Meyer - This has got to be one of the best affordable reference books on Oceanic Art

Really nice carvings the presentation in the yard really draws me in. Its almost a shrine.

Can you post a bigger pic of this tall guy?

Carve on.


I have a couple 9 ft logs that I've been saving to do some big tikis to frame my doorwall on my deck. I'd like to do something like those at the Trader Vic's in Chicago. There are a couple large / tall tikis outside the restaurant in the hallway from the hotel leading to the entrance of the restaurant. I've searched this site but have not been able to find pictures of those. Can somebody help? Thanks in advance. Does anybody know who originally did these?

They were done by Barney West, you can tell by the Moai's style. Barney did all big Trader Vic Tikis.

You ARE talking about the Tikis that stood outside by the (closed) back entrance, I assume? Were those moved inside? That would be good, because they were fine examples that were totally wasted where they were standing.

I tried to photograph them in natural light but it was too dark.

Is this one of the tikis you are asking about?

There are quite a few tikis hanging out in the hallways and stairways of Chicago's TV... shame they will be gone soon. :(
A few more...

There's a bunch more...


Wow !!! Talk about an entrance !!! Awesome efforts and surroundings. Welcome aboard !!! Thanks for sharing such wonderful inspirations and stay in touch.




Lake Surfer,
Your first picture is exactly the one I was thinking about. I appreciate your sharing. I have searched through mulitple websites trying to find those images for over a year now. I figured it would be one you Wisconsinites that would come to the rescue.

Thank you for responding to the question of who originally made it.



Thanks McTiki for the welcome!

PalmCityTiki. Which big guy do you mean? The Ku or the the post on the right? If it is the one on the right it is just a support post with a mask. I can post more of the Ku if you want.

Over Thanksgiving I finished a couple of projects and did a few more. I hope you all had a good break. Once this gets under your skin you can’t let it go.

A Kwoma mindja mask

I slabbed up a large log a couple years ago and finally made some use of the planks after they dried.

A skull rack from the Sepik River area.

An Asmat shield. I combined features from several shields into one.

A Korewori River figure.

A slit gong in the shape of a crocodile. I was originally going for a reproduction but one too deep cut with a chainsaw wrecked that, so I did a cartoonish version. About 7 feet long. And yes, that is snow ($&*^%).

This is for TCs in the the south. It is the same view as the picture in my first post. Only 6 short months until spring!!!

Hope you enjoy it.

[ Edited by: JohnnyP 2005-12-03 11:20 ]

JohnnyP, I'm astounded at the amount and quality of work that you've posted, seemingly having been a lurker or only discovered TC very recently. You've done more authentic quality tikis than many of us here (with a few exceptions)!! I hope you will stick around and show us more. Thanks for joining the TC crowd.



That snow pic look´s like it could have been taken here in Sweden.... Remindes me of that picture in Book of Tiki, Alhoha Holidays NY! Tiki´s look good in snow too!!
Great work, love it!

/Makutiki Swe.

Really great stuff you got there... hope to see more of it soon


I'm with Aaron, it seems like here you are one day and the next you have a whole beautiful yard full of Awesome carvings. I Love it and your work is really top notch and like we rarely see here. Like I said before Welcome to TC, com on in and make yourself comfortable. Kick off yer shoes and stay awhile. OH, and don't forget to post more pix on your way anywhere.


Thanks for the wonderful feedback.

Tikis do look good in the snow. They just freeze their "knots" off.

AA and Benzart
I do have to admit to being a "lurker" for quite a while. We only recently obtained a digital camera of sufficient quality, as can be deduced by my terrible photography. I borrowed one earlier only to find my work's firewall would not let pictures be uploaded out of our office. So I've been enjoying learning all I can from the talent at this site on my lunch breaks.

Thanks to this site I've been challenged to go further in my carving and try new things. Now I've got carving obsession-- thanks for filling up all my free time:) The only problem is I'm running out of room and don't know what to do with them.

Thanks again

Kono posted on Mon, Dec 5, 2005 5:27 PM

Holy cow! Where'd you come from? (I know...you've been lurking) Great, great carvings. I love that you're doing PNG inspired pieces. I've been getting more and more interested in PNG art and culture lately. Welcome aboard.

What the....???

I really need to start paying more attention around here.

Welcome to TC, Johnny P! It's great to see such great carvings and a wonderful backyard in my own home state. My Wife works in Imlay City, just a few miles from you and her co-workers look at her like she's an alien whenever she mentions anything tiki. What do you use for a wood source? Believe it or not, I'm having a heck of a time finding wood (short of chopping down my own tree). I'd love to see more pics of your KU in progress... heck, any more pics you have... those are great!



You are certainly right about that "they look at you like you're an alien" when you mention tiki around here. It's great to know there is somebody else on this site from MI.

I am lucky enough to have family with wooded property so most of my log stock comes from windfall that is cleaned up, some times it's even delivered. If you call a tree service that is local they can sometimes drop off a load of logs on their way back from a job. Some of them even have a lot were you can pick from. With the gas / propane prices going up it might be difficult to find hardwood as they usually sell it as firewood, but pine should be easy to get. I've used dimensional lumber for some of my carvings. Keep your eye out when you are driving around people throw away scrap lumber all the time.

This is a roof spire inspired from New Caledonia. It was carved from a 2x12 from a discarded shipping crate. I just drew the design around the nails and nail holes. Can't beat free. I don't have a picture of this one finished, I gave it away before I thought to take one.

I'll post the Ku progress pics when I find them. There isn't many of them.

Kono Thanks for the welcome.



Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. JohnnyP needs to move me south, far south!!!


I love your creations my friend. You need to take more photos though. I'm a junkie for photos, progress photos especially.
Thanks for sharing,

Great stuff Johnny... good to see another Upper Midwest tiki carver.
More pictures of tikis in the snow too!

As you said, wood is where you find it... I stole logs from city parks when I first started... had a few run-ins with the cops on some late night raids...
I think there are a few stories on here somewhere...


Thanks to Gman and his good advice I was able to hack a bull dolphin out. I don’t think I did Gman justice though.

This is my first sale, I‘m excited to actually sell something, even though it is not strictly tiki.

The starting point. A good sized pine log. That’s a 20 inch bar on the saw for reference. These logs are about 5 years old and the outside sap wood (the outside inch and a half) is pretty much gone. The heartwood is still good though.

Mahi Mahi “caught” in the Great Lakes.

Frontal view. I made the fins much thicker than they should be to give them strength

It needs some clean up work, fine tuning and veining of the fins. It also needs to dry for a few days so I can do the finish sanding.

I hope you enjoy it.

GMAN posted on Sun, Dec 11, 2005 4:12 PM

YEAH DOGG! You hit that one right on the button! Dude, that is killer. Wow, I'm speachless. Now, sand it up and GET PAID!


That is so freakin' cool! One of your pieces would sure look good on the wall of the Leeward Lounge... :wink:

I may be slightly artistic, but I can't do anything that looks real to save my life. You do it very, very well.

Damm, that was quick! I enjoy seeing all type of carvings.

GMAN posted on Sun, Dec 11, 2005 4:52 PM


I just came back to look at this again. It's so good it's silly. I really like how you shaped the mouth, it has a real aggressive look to it. The body and fins look stellar! Is it two sided or is the backside unfinished?



Gman- Thanks for the praise. I was nervous about posting it. It is carved on both sides. I cut three slabs out of the log. I was planning on using one of the outside curved piece as you suggested but that center slab kept calling me.

MoonDance- This one did go pretty quick, so far about 5.5 hours from the point I picked up the saw to what I posted. It needs about another hour or so of sanding then a coat of finish.
I do have 5 or 6 progress pics I could post, but since this is not really tiki, I didn't want to take up to much space. What do you guys think?

Finkdaddy- I would be honored to have one of my pieces in your Leeward Lounge (your space is just too awesome), but Gman should have a first shot at any fish carvings here. My sale was totally outside of TikiCentral. Other than that send me a PM.

Feelin' Zombified- I looked around my woodpile this weekend to see if I had anything I could give you, but I was really disappointed with the state of my stock, I need to start looking around myself.

Thanks again

Many thanks for the thought Johnny P... very kind of you.

I know that there's a sawmill somewhere very close to you, but the address was rather sketchy, and they never answer the phone. I'll see if I can dig up that info again and maybe we'll both have a good, on-demand source.


The fish would be a great addition to any tiki room in my opinion. Now I want one ( just another thing to add to my list of things to try)

Thanks for sharing. Any ideas on the type of finish yet ?

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