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Tapa for My Tiki Bar

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I'm slowly but surely working on my home tiki bar (pics will follow but don't hold your breath). I would like to 'wallpaper' some of the area w/ tapa & am wondering if anybody has any advice.

Can anybody recommend any good websites or suppliers?

Is it possible to buy it by the width & length required for my specific area?

Any first-hand experience putting tapa on your walls or shelves?

What's a decent price?

Tiki Chris

[ Edited by: Tiki Chris on 2003-10-04 15:44 ]

Iolani posted on Fri, Oct 3, 2003 8:17 AM

I have a possible cheap solution. In elementary school, we used to have to make "tapa cloth" on the cheap for decorating the may day celebrations. Here's what you need: brown paper bags, sponges, and watered down brown paint.

Prepare the paper bags by crumpling them into balls, stomping on them, rubbing them against themselves over and over and over again, until the bag is soft. You can cut the sponges into the designs you want on your tapa if you want a repeating block print effect, or you can use a brush if you are masochistic.

Or you can buy unpainted tapa here:


SES posted on Fri, Oct 3, 2003 8:32 AM

You can also use a raw potato to make the block print stamps instead of a sponge. Just cut it in half and carve the design into the potato then stamp away.
I grew up in that early 70's craft era.

[ Edited by: susane on 2004-01-20 06:48 ]

Iolani posted on Fri, Oct 3, 2003 8:40 AM

LOL! Oh yeah, I forgot about the cut up potato. That works even better.

That's cool that you made tapa from grocery bags when you were a keiki, too. I told my wahine about that as a possible wallcovering and she looked at me like I was out of my mind. I remember our home-made tapa looking pretty good.

[ Edited by: Kailuageoff on 2003-10-03 08:41 ]

Iolani posted on Fri, Oct 3, 2003 8:58 AM

I still have some of my old "tapa" in a scrapbook and it looks pretty decent for an 8 year old - and yeah, when I build my tiki bar / computer desk, I think I'll do the homemade action.

SES posted on Fri, Oct 3, 2003 9:14 AM

[ Edited by: susane on 2004-01-20 06:49 ]


Actually there are some relatively inexpensive (I would not say necessarily quality due to design)tapa's appearing on ebay. I recently picked one up and have been continually searching for others.

I do not believe that people ship them properly and sometimes they come with creases. Make sure they pack them correctly.

One I picked up is hanging on a wall. My wife liked it so much that she wanted to put it under glass but I told her no way. I went ahead and split a piece of six foot bamboo and then I went to office depot and picked up about a dozen small binder clips. I clipped them on the end of the tapa and took off the "slivery thingies" that you use to open up the binder clips. I then took the two pieces of bamboo and clamped them together over the clips. After that I took some rope and dunked them in residual coffee in order to stain it the color of the bamboo and binded the bamboo pieces together on the ends.

I know that people could come up with probably better ideas but the total cost of hanging was around $10 and it looks sharp.

I found most of the tapa I used in the Spectacular East Indies Room on ebay, and I never pay more than .65 a square foot. One of the pieces was large enough to wallpaper the entire room with the same design. And it actually is wallpapered to the walls! I used an old fashioned type wallpaper paste known as "wheat paste". I know that some of you are probably freaking out that I actually pasted vintage tapa to my walls, but hey, thats what they did with it in most all of our treasured Polynesian restaurants.

Tapa that is in good shape is very cloth-like and will fold and ship just fine. Usually heavy creases will come out with a little steam. If there are bad creases that seem "worn out", thats probably how it was originally folded, and that edge has worn from years of handling.

Using the real tapa gave my home bar an incredibly authentic look, for under $100.

Swanky posted on Fri, Oct 3, 2003 4:10 PM

I agree with TraderPup. You can find very large tapa on Ebay at reasonable prices. Enough to wallpaper a room. It can get dry and brittle. Any major creases come out with steam and such. Buy a large piece and cut it to size. Any extra, use for other crafts.

You could wallpaper all of New Guinea with how much tapa is out there!


I've championed the paper bag method before but recently it occured to me that heavy white butcher paper would probably make a more realistic fake tapa. Crumpled and softened (as with the paper bag method) it can get very cloth like in texture. You may want to put the designs on it before wrinkling as ink or paint might bleed too much on crumpled paper. Anyone with a bit of craft skill could actually paint the designs on the cloth, or use a simple stencil. This will give you the variations in color you see in tapa.

Somewhat related craft tip: If you need a lot of swell looking table coverings for a large low budget event, crumpled newsprint or butcher paper works very well.


Thanks everybody for the excellent advice (& please keep it comin’ if ya got anymore ideas)! I think I might do the ‘grocery bag’ thing in some nooks & crannies & go w/ the real tapa in the more open spots.

I like the idea of purchasing some undecorated tapa available at papergoods.com & then decorating it w/ my own block cuts.

By the way, if you’d like to see some beautiful tapa from Papua New Guinea, check out the gallery at this website:


Traderpup: I’m having a hard time finding the Spectacular East Indies Room on eBay. Can you provide a link or offer some more advice?


[ Edited by: Tiki Chris on 2003-10-04 15:42 ]

I did the wall behind my bar in reed mat (if that's what it's called) it's little 1/4" diameter reeds fastened together with small guage wire. It came out looking really good & it's easy to cut and work with. Bought it at my local tiki bar material supplier http://www.solaibamboo.com. If your set on tapa, they have that too.

SES posted on Sun, Oct 5, 2003 2:54 AM

[ Edited by: susane on 2004-01-20 06:52 ]

Thanks for the assist SES. Now if I can only get rid of these damned pesky pop-ups that plague my screen, I might be able to string two words together without interuption. There's been a few times when the only thing that's prevented my monitor from going thru the window was I forgot to unhook it first!

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