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Tikiskip: Guide to tiki bar lights, Identification of styles, ect...

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Wanted to start this thread for some time now a thread that focuses on the identification and styles of
Lights that can be found in tiki bars.
Want to post not only lights from the tiki bars of old like Kahiki, Kon-tik and Trader Vic just to name a few but styles that new tiki light makers like myself have made.

The old Tiki light makers/ sellers.
The Sea & Jungle shop
Oceanic Arts
Orchids of Hawaii
Benson's Tropical Sea Imports
Roy Ell, the man who 'tiki-fied' The Alibi in the late 40's

If you have a light from one of these places or have made a light or new light style of your own that
You want to post this would be a good place for that.
Please add the style of light that it is and the maker if you know this information, also stuff like where it’s from, just any info you can about your light.
It may be that you don’t know and want to gain info about your light post it here and others may be able to shed some light on your light.

Sure there is info about these lights scattered about Tiki Central but not a one stop place to see all
Of the many styles there are / were.

I was lucky enough to find many Kahiki lights that I have yet to post on TC up close and will add those here too.

This will also help people wanting to make lights for their home bars as a guide of ideas to get you

Lights at the Kahiki Egg roll factory sale 2006-03-03. (picture below)
Here goes….



[ Edited by: tikiskip 2016-03-04 06:15 ]


Great idea for a post Skip. I don't have any lights to add but I am willing to learn all I can.


Thanks Trav.
It should be good as I know I have some good stuff to add.
Will take some time as I want to set up some good shots with
tripod and all that jazz.

Ok here is my first entry.

This is one of the mainstays of the tiki bar lighting styles.
Would say that it is one of the most popular lights of the tiki bar lighting

These lights are often made of what some call decorator glass or even plastic globes,
Although some do not like the plastic globe if you look at many of the old
Float lights in places like Trader Vic’s and Kahiki the globes are plastic not glass.

Quote Sven:
"Now about those floats: Folks erroneously believe that glass floats are it, but back in the day, RESIN and fiberglass floats were the more common ceiling decor in Tiki restaurants - and you cannot get THOSE today anywhere, while glass ones are common again."

They come in many different sizes and colors.

It is rare to find a real glass Float that has a hole in it as it is very hard to get a hole in
A real glass float.

There are some newer versions that are glass globes out of Mexico that are basically
Mexican decorator glass and would be too thin to stand the beating the Ocean would
Give a globe like these.

BUT in the end if you can take whatever globe you have and make in work in your
Float light this is all that matters, and this was the way the people who built
The tiki bar of old looked at it.

Will add more photos of this style as I take more.

This raggedy version of a Float light came form the Kahiki.
I think the net on this one may be a Nerf basketball net.
Back then they used what they had.

Here are some float lights in a home bar here in Ohio Blake's Bahooka.
I think two are plastic and one is glass can you tell which ones are plastic?
These are lights I made for Blake and I don't even remember.

Here is the grand daddy of all fish float lights.
You can see these at Oceanic Arts but don't think they will sell em as they are rare.
People do make new ones but the blow fish in those fit through the top hole.
On the old ones the fish will not fit through the top hole AND the ones I have seen have been
what looks like real old floats with very thick glass.
They must have stuffed the fish in the light and let it dry out then made light.
This one from Tikiskips collection is from the Kahiki.

"Roses are red, these floats are blue, Send me some money and they belong to you"..."TIKISKIP"

[ Edited by: tikiskip 2015-02-04 11:01 ]

[ Edited by: tikiskip 2015-03-06 14:20 ]

Very cool Skip. Bring it on!


On 2015-02-02 09:22, tikiskip wrote:

This will also help people wanting to make lights for their home bars as a guide of ideas to get you

Here goes….

I can't wait!

Here are mine!

Vintage Orchids Of Hawaii BL41



Oceanic Arts


Vintage Orchids Of Hawaii BL24B

Original Kirby that I hi-jacked from the Rumpus Room!

[ Edited by: Big Kahuna 2015-02-03 12:02 ]


NICE collection Big Kahuna!
Thanx for adding.
This is off to a good start already.

AND thank you for adding the catalog numbers for the Orchids Of Hawaii.
Many of mine are not hanging or even fixed yet.
Better get going.

Very Illuminating.


Here are some more float lights.

These are sets of floats tied so they can hang together.

These floats are all from the Kahiki in Columbus Ohio.
First two are made of plastic and are a few of my favorite.
The last blue one is glass but has a so so tie job.

These last floats are just float lights with a twist.

Group of floats...

[ Edited by: tikiskip 2015-02-26 13:25 ]


One more thing, most of the Tiki Central old timers will know most if not all of these lights.
This is going to be helpful to the persons surfing the net for answers on these

But there will be some new stuff for everyone.
Thanks for playing.

cy posted on Tue, Feb 3, 2015 2:09 PM

Lighting is one of my favorite tiki art forms Skip as nothing adds mood and ambiance more than well placed, well constructed lamps. Look forward to seeing what comes next!


you got that right Cy.
The lighting styles they had for these tiki Restaurants and bars
was so creative.

Even more float lights from tiki bars.

[ Edited by: tikiskip 2015-02-26 13:36 ]


My other vintage lamps are probably Orchids Of Hawaii, too, but I have not found any evidence.


Sorry, I don't have a scanner, but I hope this helps.


Great thread. I am a long time fan of your lamps and hopefully you will post many of the lamps you have made over the years. I have made a few lamps that I will post below.

This is made from a plastic Christmas Ornament.

These are glass floats with a 12-14" puffer fish. The plastic float is in the background.

This is the same type of glass float as above, one of six I made that are hanging in the Kon Tiki in Tucson.

A table lamp version of the above pendant lamp.

My school of Puffers attached to a ship's wheel.

A Witco style pendant lamp with a 14" puffer.

I have one vintage lamp, period. An old Fishtrap style, said to be from a Don The Beachcomber restaurant.

A twin also hangs at the Rincon Room, so I have good company.



On 2015-02-03 17:49, Big Kahuna wrote:
Sorry, I don't have a scanner, but I hope this helps.

GREAT additions!
Love this catalog, thanks Big Kahuna that is the kind of thing that will
help others with identifications in future.

AND TikiVato nice work!
I really like your table lamp version of the pendant lamp.
Thanks for the complements on my lights, and I will post em too.
Encourage other tiki light makers to do the same.

Dustycajun I have those too, have seen on some TV show where they use those
to fish, they hover over the water and plunge that trap down over a fish when it
swims by and then can grab fish from the hole in the top.

Have also seen where the bigger versions of those were used as Chicken coops
in markets in third world countries.
A bird would be under a cage like that people would shop and pick out
the live birds they wanted.
Could be found online around the time of the Bird flu scare.

Can you transmit Bird flu from an old cage?

TIKISKIP: Maker of TIKI bar lighting, Let me make one for you.


Although these are more fancy look at the work that goes into making these
bird cages.

You think it's hard to make a light, try doing this.

And they say that one person can make up to FIVE of these a day!

Here you can see a quick look at an open market bird cage.

Here you go buy one on eBay...

[ Edited by: tikiskip 2015-02-05 05:44 ]


The PUFFERFISH or BLOWFISH light is one of the top five tiki bar lights you
need for your tiki bar.

Fugu is the Japanese word for pufferfish.

They are made out of real fish that have been gutted and dried and then
a light is added to the fish.

At times when you buy these fish they have no stuffing but other times they
can be stuffed with a cotton type material.

They come in many different sizes from golf ball size to 20 or more inches.

The old ones have glass eyes, but newer ones come with those
plastic Googly eyes.
If you can get the old glass eyes these are best.

Do not get these fish wet as they will melt and start to smell.

Here is a how to on making PUFFERFISH or BLOWFISH tiki lights ...
http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=30892&forum=18&hilite=blowfish light

This is a very large PUFFER FISH tiki lamp it is from the Kahiki and is in Tikiskips collection.
It is about 20 inches long and has the glass eyes, or should I say eye because one eye is
On this one you can see that they used a red cloth to open the mouth but did
not remove this after it dried.

Here is a small golf ball size BLOWFISH he has no light as it's
kinda hard to get a bulb that size.
This fish has the more common Googly eyes.

Last we have a soft ball size Fish with no light as well he too has the Googly eyes.
I try to buy fish that have nice fins and a smile if I can.
This guy looks happy.

Blowfish with or with out lights in them give your tiki bar a great exotic feel.

[ Edited by: tikiskip 2015-02-27 07:32 ]

Time for the Skiper-Bird-Cage-lamp



Not likely Hang10.
Just look at what those people do though!
We go to the store and buy the stuff we need to make a project and think
we are so clever after we get done with it.

BUT we are half way done right after we buy the stuff at the store.
Others have harvested the bamboo, cut it into the round shapes we need
it in to work with ect…

THESE people start with bamboo, Raw bamboo.
Then with the help of a few primitive tools make these awesome bird cages by hand.

THEY are real craftsmen and woman.
I am in awe of what they do, and we think ourselves so smart.
With all of our technological advances we can’t tell you how the pyramids were

Plus they did not go to you tube to get ideas to make the cages.
It’s their design totally.

With all we have at our fingertips in today’s world we are truly uncreative and
should be making truly amazing things.

But the need for quick buck has put an end mostly to the hand crafted world
we used to have.

My hat goes off to people like this.

On 2015-02-03 12:54, Atomic Tiki Punk wrote:
Very Illuminating.

Not that funny Lance-Lighten up!
Great thread!

Yeah, that is weak, but not Skip's lights!
they are solid!


On 2015-02-25 07:34, bigbrotiki wrote:
Here is a real DEAL on a classic Tiki lamp !:


The description says there is a hairline crack in the stained glass bottom. I guess that's why the starting bid is so low!


"This vintage lamp was purchased in the 1970s in Miami. It is very unique, and a great conversation piece. It has beautiful shells forming the main housing of the lamp. The top of the lamp features an elaborately woven bamboo top. There is a beautiful Polynesian style artwork wrap along the base of the lamp with more woven trim. The bottom of the lamp has a stained glass dolphin, which the light shines out of. There is some minor damage to the wrapping along the side, but it is extremely hard to see. There is a hairline crack in the stained glass bottom. It does not detract from the overall aesthetic and image of the lamp. This is truly a spectacular lamp, and a piece of art."

Starting bid:
US $2,995.00

"There is a hairline crack in the stained glass bottom"
The bottom of this lamp is resin not stained glass.

It is a nice lamp.
I have two from the Kahiki.
Any body who would like one I will sell mine for Half that price.
The shipping on that is going to be another what, 100 to 200 bucks.


This is a different kind of Blowfish I used to call it a parrot fish but
don't think that is right.
But here it is, it has less pointy spikes and more of a beak than the first kind
shown here.
This style is less popular than the pointy ones for tiki bar use but still works well
and can be found in many bars.

This is from Tikiskips collection (not from Kahiki) and is about 20 inches long.
On this fish we find the Googly eyes.

A close up of the beak.

Here is a small golf ball size with no light.
Looks like a small bird.

-==--==--==--==-Google "Tiki bar lights" To find TIKISKIP-==--==--==--==-



One more thing if you are going to make a tiki bar light out of a blowfish
you must WEAR A MASK!
The dust from this fish will give you a sore throat at the very least.
So be careful with the dust of this fish.

You can buy these already made into a light or get them without light.


Next up is the basket light sometimes called a bird cage light.....
This is for sure one of the top five lights for your tiki bar.
Every bar needs a few of these at least.

All these are is a basket with a Rattan Or bamboo hat on top.
The top could have thatch on top as well.

Most of the time these are made with found objects.
But on the larger baskets you need to make the hat using rattan and or bamboo.

This light is from the Kon tiki as Tikidavid told me.
Tikidavid gave two of these to me years ago at that time they had no light fixtures in
them and I outfitted them with lights.

This one (middle light)is more of a bird cage type light really.
Got this light at one of the Kahiki sales and it is from the Kahiki in Columbus Ohio.

More basket type lights to come....

[ Edited by: tikiskip 2016-02-17 11:53 ]


Great posts! I love looking and reading about these lights....cool stuff.

Again, great thread topic!


More to come soon.

Aha! Just found this post/topic. Skip always bringing up good stuff!

I made this puffer fish hanging lamp a while back for the New Luau in Beverly Hills ( closed now)

After they closed the late great Art Snyder aka Don the Beachcomber Sunset Beach, Ca. acquired all the puffers.

And here are a few of them today!

Bamboo Ben
Custom Tropical Decor
I build Tiki Rooms for you! Just ask around :wink:

[ Edited by: RevBambooBen 2015-10-10 05:37 ]


Wow nice group o lights Ben!
That Bamboo pillar on the left of photo is cool too.
Like the way you added smaller bamboo trim between the larger bamboo.

A thread of your bamboo trim and lashing and tying of bamboo would be
a good thread for TC too.

On 2015-10-11 04:41, tikiskip wrote:
Wow nice group o lights Ben!
That Bamboo pillar on the left of photo is cool too.
Like the way you added smaller bamboo trim between the larger bamboo.

A thread of your bamboo trim and lashing and tying of bamboo would be
a good thread for TC too.

Might take you up on that TSkip!
If this El Nino really dumps sOOn, I'll have some inside computer time :wink:

Kona Club.....

Bamboo Ben
Custom Tropical Decor
I build Tiki Rooms for you! Just ask around :wink:

[ Edited by: RevBambooBen 2015-10-11 07:20 ]

p.s. I still have more tapa stories too!


On 2015-10-11 04:41, tikiskip wrote:
Like the way you added smaller bamboo trim between the larger bamboo.

A thread of your bamboo trim and lashing and tying of bamboo would be
a good thread for TC too.

I second that. I'd like to see how lashings are started off and then finished.

Some of my Lamps from many years in storage. The basket one sitting on the peacock chair is from the Kahiki, the fishtrap from trader vics dallas the glass fish floats from Ren Clarks home bar TX. not sure where the one on the front left is from. but I am very excited to have at long last started the project to hang these lamps.


That teardrop light on the left is very cool, love that lamp.
I think I have one of those Kahiki lights like yours.

Lets see a close up of the Kahiki light.
Do you still live in Hawaii?
How did the Kahiki light make it there?


Hi Skip, I now live in Florida about 10 mile south of the Mai Kai. The Lamp made it to Hawaii and we had it sitting out on display but we never did hang it. we left Hawaii in 2008 so it has been boxed since then. Here is a close up photo. The top has some wear and tear on it but will still look awesome when it is up.


Loving this thread. Soon as we get the house squared away and I can get my shop set up, I intend to work on a few lamps. This is giving me some great ideas. I really want to try my hand at the Orchids 4" bamboo style. I've been picking up hats from the thrift stores for awhile now... Now I just gotta get a line on some reasonable priced bamboo. The big stuff is so bloody expensive!


Thanks for adding pa'akiki.
That sure does look like Kahiki it even has the same wall paper like diffuser inside
of the basket.

I think I have a light from Kon tiki that has that same hat.
It was very fragile so I shellacked the hat so as to make stronger.
The paper on these things get very brittle and white glue and or shellac can
help with this problem, they can also mold or rot.
Tapa can also get moldy or rot as it's really wood right, plus the inks on Tapa
can wash off/bleed with ease.

"This is giving me some great ideas"
Thanks Teadoir this is part of the reason I bought the Kahiki lights so I could see
what makes em tick.

More to come....


Well I know I have seen that hat, but did not remember
that I have at least two of the baskets almost just like this one.

One is our laundry basket and the other I use as a side table.

These are very big to use as lights and would need a huge space such as the

Now lets see if I can find that paper like yours.


I've been searching for paper or fabric like that as well Skip, very interested on what you find.

[ Edited by: A Frame 2015-10-29 10:53 ]


On 2015-10-29 10:52, A Frame wrote:
I've been searching for paper or fabric like that as well Skip, very interested on what you find.
[ Edited by: A Frame 2015-10-29 10:53 ]

Well, no that's not what I was talking about.

What I meant was a photo of the original Kahiki paper that was in this light.
This was a grass cloth wall paper.
Back then wall paper was made thinner than it is now.
Don't know how translucent the new wall paper would be.

Sorry to mislead.


No worries Skip...I think I misunderstood. But darn it, it's hard to find a suitable product to line the inside of classic lamp. Getting an exotic look with the right amount of defusing from current materials available is hard.

Here's to hoping someone can find something in the 21st century that could ease my pain!


"But darn it, it's hard to find a suitable product to line the inside of classic lamp."

If you post a photo of your light here I may be able to help.
There are TONS of options for this, but I need to see the light first.
More than they had back then really.

Ok I found the papers I was looking for, these are BOTH from Kahiki lights.
The are so dry and tear apart very easy.
If these were glued and Shellacked they would be fine.

Hate to say this but the Kahiki lights in some ways were very poorly made.
The paper was crammed in and huge overlaps that made the light Transmission not as good,
if I made lights like these people would not be happy.

Is this paper the same as yours pa'akiki?

First one is Tapa and the other is just grass cloth wall paper.


Hi Skip, your baskets look similar, the bottom of mines is solid. I should have the Kahiki lamp up tomorrow and will post a photo of it. Meanwhile here are two from Trader Vic's Dallas

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