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Discovery & Restoration of vintage Oceanic Arts tiki in Kansas City, MO and now, AMAZING chapter 2 !

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Hello to all.
Greetings from the land-locked midwestern paradise near Kansas City,Missouri.

As we sink into the frigid temps and early darkness of winter days, here is a story of hope for all of you who dream of warmer climates and the unexpected discovery of a forgotten treasure.....

Before we go further, allow me introduce us.
My name is Paul and my wife is Lori. We have chosen the username 8FT Tiki. You will soon see why. Now enjoy the story:

Our adventure begins one late summer morning
as Lori is browsing a website belonging to a local antiques dealer. She looks at the photos he has posted of several old advertising items and vintage automobiles as well as vintage furniture and clothing. Then near the bottom of the page she sees something different. "Is that a tiki ?" she said. I went over to the computer to see what
sort of tiki she has found. I am expecting to find a mug or a new Shag item just issued but instead I see a carving. I assumed that she was looking at someones collection or a tiki related website. Then she asks out loud..."I wonder how much that is?"
I said "What do you mean? Who's site is this?" She told me that it was a local dealer. Since there was no other information about the tiki on the website, she picked up the phone and called the shop. They informed her that it was for sale and was still available. However, it was not at the shop. It was at the owners' home and....
IT WAS OUTSIDE! That was enough to push Lori into action. She was given directions to the house and on a rainy, soggy Saturday we headed out to see the tiki in person.

We drove about 30 miles each way in the rain that day. When we arrived at the site we saw that the tiki measured an incredible 8 Feet Tall! Although impressive in size the poor tiki was more or less abandoned to its spot at the corner of the house. It was so tall I had to climb up on the front porch deck to see its upper half. Unfortunately it was apparent that the weather had started to take its toll. The current owner had to put a large flat sheet of metal on top of the head and place a cast iron pot on top of that to keep water out of the head.

There were a few holes in the wood which I attributed to woodpeckers. Sadly, the owner also sat the tiki directly on the ground and it was right by the gutter downspout. This created a muddy, moist condition perfect for rotting wood. I must confess that I was not very impressed with the tikis state of decay.

Lori on the other hand was the visionary.
She was seeing through all the "defects" I was pointing out. I suggested that we get back in the car due to the rain. Finally I said to her: "I know it's cool but consider the condition and don't buy it with your heart. Be realistic. But if you really want it, try to negotiate a deal because I am not convinced it is worth the asking price."
(don't ask how much it was priced at)
Anyway I suggested that she try to work a trade/purchase and that's what she did. After several phone calls and emails, we drove to the shop and did the deal.

Next we had to arrange the pick up and delivery of the big guy. We recruited 3 big family members (one who had a large delivery truck with a lift gate) and off we went.

We were allowed to drive through the yard and back up right to the tiki. After stuffing a big wad of grass in a hole that was spewing hornets, we loaded the tiki into the truck and headed across town. We unloaded the tiki on our deck in the back yard laying it on its back so I could work on it. Little did I know what lay ahead.

I will now try to briefly describe what it took to get the tiki upright again.
First I needed a shovel to extract all of the dry rotted wood interior. It was so severe that I was worried that it was completely gone.

After some time I hit the hornet nest and luckily I was only stung once before I sprayed a can and a half of wasp-hornet killer on it and then I left it for 2 days. Next I completed the clearing out of the wood-rotted part of the insides. I had to do this from both top and bottom. It was tough to get all the way inside because this thing is BIG!

Finally I got all the rotted wood out that I dared to scrape. I needed to keep as much as possible for stability. Next I got 3 gallons of Olympic wood preservative and used a tank sprayer to apply it to the insides. I wanted to stop the wood rot and kill any worms or termites in the wood.

After several days of drying and airing out I found that the wood was still as soft inside as before. It was just oilier now. So I went back to the hardware store and got 3 gallons of wood sealer. Again I used the tank sprayer to apply it and that saved me loads of time. After another few days of drying, it was firming up nicely and soon was moved inside where I put down a thick plastic tarp and began to fill the inside with spray foam. The kind in a can that you use for sealing around doors and windows. It is the same brand but is a type used for large gaps.
Inside the foam I had positioned a large pvc pipe about 5 inches wide. This allowed it to have a strong interior point and also helped me to attach it to a base I had made to help it stand securely later.

After the foam we decided to do an exterior touch up of walnut stain to the areas where it had been lost due to weathering and a cat who used the torso as a scratching post while it sat outside before we rescued it. (the rest of this story will be finished by Lori, as I have to leave! Paul)
We contacted Sven Kirsten, who was incredibly helpful. He suggested we leave the paint untouched, (we had been contemplating updating the paint)and we followed his advice. He also said it looked like an Oceanic Arts piece to him, and suggested we contact them. We did, and to our delight, they e-mailed right back, and said it was indeed their work. Done by carver Ed Crissman, who carved for them for 20 years before he passed away. They told us it dated from the early 1960's, and is carved from a large palm. Now that all the work is finished, we have placed it in our great-room, where it adds some much needed scale to our huge fireplace and oversized big-screen tv! It's a really large room, with 15'ceilings, so he doesn't look out of place or crowded.

Paul still has a little doubt about my sanity, but I think he has grown to love the 'big guy' too. (by the way, I traded 2 advertising signs that were buried in our garage for the tiki). Thanks for reading this long post, and sharing in our fun! Lori

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki on 2003-11-30 11:18 ]

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki on 2003-11-30 14:02 ]

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki 2006-08-25 18:28 ]

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki 2006-08-25 18:30 ]

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki 2010-07-02 15:11 ]

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki 2011-05-26 14:31 ]


Edited into above post.

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki 2006-08-25 18:03 ]

Great story, great Tiki.

Great for you guys. Thanks for the info, it made for a good read.

Now THAT'S the way to first-post as a new Tiki Central member! Looks like you have yourself a genuine #137 Oceanic Arts Marquesan Tahitian tiki alright! Ed Crissman is most famous for his 20-plus foot Maori monster now in Tahiti. Ed was their specialist in the Tahitian/Marquesan/Cook Islands style. There are a TON of his poles still in Trader Vic's restaurants. (That's the style I carve, too, and I am a great, great admirer of the man). Nice piece and story!

[ Edited by: Basement Kahuna on 2003-11-30 10:55 ]

Fantastic story! What a find! Great save!

I hope he brings you a wealth of happines to your family! He actually seems to be much happier & cozier now that he is all cleaned up (inside & out).

Welcome to Tiki Central!


The tiki is awesome, the work you did is awesome, and you guys are awesome!

E komo mai,

Thanks to the Tiki Gods you saved his life, he's beautiful! Welcome to the board... :tiki:

[ Edited by: DawnTiki on 2003-11-30 13:40 ]


WOW! Congratulations on the find and to a save well done. That is a great piece for a great room. You're right about the need for a large item...that room looks huge. (nice bamboo big screen)

Awesome story and incredible tiki find! Something we all dream about. I know you said not to ask so I won't, but damn I dying to know the price. What ever it was I'm sure it's worth it.
Welcome to TC.

Great rescue story. It should be televised. Welcome aboard, and I vote that you automatically be upgraded to tiki socialite.

[ Edited by: nice fishy on 2003-11-30 14:35 ]

[ Edited by: nice fishy on 2003-11-30 14:35 ]

Damn! that's one hell of an introduction!

Welcome to TC.

(note to self: must top that story by 2005)


Thanks for sharing ......looks great in your house...

Congratulations! Have you researched the history of it? I bet it has a more dignified past than simply rotting in someone's backyard. It would be nice to build a composite tiki history of KC, and you my have one of the puzzle pieces.

How much does something like that weigh?

I won't ask the price, but will you tell us what caliber of advertising signs you traded for it? - Greg

Kono posted on Sun, Nov 30, 2003 9:26 PM

Dang, I have daydreams about things like that happening to me. Then I realize that if I found such an awesome item I wouldn't have any place to put it. Incredible story. Thanks!


ooh lala what a great find!
and cheers to having the get up and go to preserve that big fella! awesome job you two!

for tiki supplies, try this link maybe:

good luck, have fun, welcome!

Great story, Paul. I followed a link that you posted recently, and thought I'd bring this up for the newbies. If ever I get my hands on an old tiki that needs restoring, I'll follow your advice.


[ Edited by: filslash 2008-09-20 15:13 ]


I don't know why i never updated this thread to add the fact that this big tiki was from the Kona Kai Kansas City location at 45th and Main which was inside of the Hilton Plaza Inn. A recent visit there revealed that the hotel has changed owners a few times but there is NO evidence of the Kona Kai's existence left intact and no one there remembers it either.

I occassionaly add related finds to another thread I started in Locating Tiki including this:

I recently found a different magazine ad for the K.C. Kona Kai restaurants. It was in a souvenir program from the Starlight Theatre (a large outdoor theatre in Swope Park where concerts and Broadway shows have been performed for almost 60 years).
The ad is from 1977 and measures about 2 1/4" X 6".

Imagine my surprise and delight when I first glimpsed the artist rendition of our very own 8FT tiki !!! OK, I know it is just his head, but WOW was it ever cool to finally get a local confirmation of sorts that he was indeed in the Kona Kai.

Yeah, I'm pretty happy with this discovery. In fact I actually found 2 of the programs and the best part is that they were FREE. Now, if the ad is accurate, I think I need to go searching for a big moai or two that may still be in the area.
Thanks for dropping by for the latest update.
8FT Tiki

Great story and very cool that you found that add! I had to clean up some rot on the bottom of an old tiki once and I used a hand drill with a wire brush attachment. It worked pretty well for a smaller job.

That would be awesome if you could find an old photo of your Tiki inside the Kona Kai and definitely a search for that Moai is in order! Good Luck! :)


Ah, so THAT'S where your name comes from!
This thread dates from long before I joined the board. I'm glad it got bumped.
8FT, any chance you can replace those postage stamp pics in the first post?
I'm guessing they used enlarge when clicked on? but they don't now.

That's is AMAZING! There's absolutely NO DOUBT that's the famed 8ft Tiki in that drawing!

[edited for really bad spelling oversight . .don't ask.]

Classic Silver Line Boats

[ Edited by: SilverLine 2010-03-06 16:43 ]

Thanks for bringing this thread back to life...what an amazing story. Fun to find out something you love and worked to make your own has a famous history behind it. Very kewl!!!


On 2010-03-06 11:13, 4WDtiki wrote:
Ah, so THAT'S where your name comes from!
This thread dates from long before I joined the board. I'm glad it got bumped.
8FT, any chance you can replace those postage stamp pics in the first post?

I just took care of that. I thought I may have lost them some time back when a computer crashed but I did find them elsewhere.


That's awesome. There isn't much left of what was an already sparse midwest tiki culture, so it's good to know you were able to preserve a little piece of it.

Just stumbled on this thread. What a find! Let us know if you ever find those moai.


On 2011-05-26 13:10, TikiMonkey wrote:
Just stumbled on this thread. What a find! Let us know if you ever find those moai.

No we haven't found the moai YET...but I just realized that I never linked the amazing second chapter thread to this original one so here for your reading pleaseure is the unbelievable next chapter. ENJOY! 8FT

I've got a great story to share with everyone. It does require a little bit of background. I'm called 8FT Tiki because of the vintage Oceanic Arts palm tiki we found, acquired and restored back in 2003. We learned it had originally been in the Kona Kai which was inside the Hilton Plaza Inn in Kansas City, MO.

We had exchanged emails with Bob & LeRoy at Oceanic Arts at that time and they informed us that there was also another 8 foot tall palm tiki in the other Kona Kai location at the Hilton Airport Plaza Inn. For almost 6 years we had not been
sure which location our tiki was from. We suspected it was the Plaza location and that was confirmed when in August of 2009 Bob sent us another email containing an interior photo of the Airport Kona Kai location found in a brochure from their files. That photo has a partial view of the tiki made by them (#139 Marquesan in their old catalog). Bob thought it might be the one we had but as I looked at the details of the carving I was quite sure it was not the one we had but the other 8 footer. It was nice to see the photo and we left it at that.

Flash forward to June 24, 2010. I get a message from Mrs. 8FT saying my good buddy
"Silverline" is trying to reach me about a tiki on Craigslist. I tried to call him back but the ringer on his phone was not working and he had no idea I was calling back and getting his voicemail. So we checked out the local Craigslist ads and BINGO! Here's what we see:

WOW, it sure looks like my big tiki. Could it possibly be the other Kona Kai locations 8 Footer? What else could it be? This thing just surfaces out of nowhere after all these years?! Of course we've been interested in tracking it down but where do you start? I mean it literally could be anywhere or nowhere if it had been destroyed somehow. Your imagination just doesn't allow you to believe that it could just appear on its own and say "hey 8 Ft, over here, come get me!"
Well, I got on the phone and managed to work out a deal with the owner. Unreal.
Still I couldn't reach Silverline to tell him or thank him. Finally the next day we talked and made quick plans to head over and make the purchase. We needed his pickup and a special no-shift device he had to keep the tiki from rolling around in the truck bed. Well secured, we took off to transport him back to my house.
We stayed off major highways because of the rush hour traffic. We got more than a few stares and fingers pointed at us as we made the journey.
Here's the new guy in truck with myself (left) and Silverlines neighbor (right) where we stopped to pick up my car.

Finally we arrive at the home of the 8 Foot family. Since neither Silverline nor myself are from muscle beach, I had to call in the big guns to assist us getting the tiki up the steps and into the house. It's nice to have a brother in law in the moving business!!!!

Yeah, this isn't gonna work, trade me ends!

That's better, lets go.

You know this thing is not as big around as the one I already had but it is heavier because it is not hollowed out from sitting outdoors. It has been inside since Oceanic Arts shipped it from California in the 70's.

Im' pretty confident it will pass through the doors without a problem.

Whew, stairs are done, now this tight corner turn.

The tiki inspector is here again (on the table) to check out the new arrival.

The moment is here!....8 Foot, meet your LONG LOST brother!!!

Me and my new family member :)

Now I'm sure you have noticed the red eyes on the big guy. Unfortunately sometime in the past somebody decided to add some glow in the dark paints to make him look more imposing. I couldn't wait to remove it. Lots of cleaning with water and brushes did the trick.

I also toned down the bright whites that were "updated" by a former owner by wiping on a light coat of walnut stain over the paint. Sure does look better now.

So my friends, there is the amazing true story of another adoption here in good old K.C. I'm so proud to own these vintage Oceanic Arts beauties and to see that they are now both together in the same room. Just considering the odds of that EVER happening is mind blowing. I guess it was meant to be.

Eternal thanks and appreciation to my best tiki buddy ever, Silverline you are a true friend if ever there was one.

Wow, that's amazing! What a great story, thanks for sharing, With that kind of luck, you should be buying lottery tickets.


Great lookin' tiki!
Any info from the previous owner, like how long they had it, etc?

My husband and I just finished reading this and can't help but be jealous...also happy to know that two beautiful cultural artifacts are safe and back together again. Congrats on your amazing find!

great story & an even greater find. You beat some big odds finding that baby!
I feel a chorus of "thats what friends are for" coming on.

They are both amazing tikis-Congratulations!

[ Edited by: bigbadtikidaddy 2011-05-29 09:14 ]

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