05 June 2008

Eggs, wood, and history

--Last morning in Hawaii :-( gotta pack.
01:38 PM April 20, 2008 from txt

--I hate packing... Especially at the END of the trip, packing to come home. 03:12 PM April 20, 2008 from txt

--Purchased a beautiful hand carved bowl of koa wood, crafted by Dan DeLuz. about 23 hours ago from txt

A few days before (I think it was the morning before we left for the other side of the island to go fishing), we had stopped at the "Koa Shop Kaffee" to have breakfast. It's just a few miles down from our home base, the Wild Orchid House.

We sat down in the small restaurant and I immediately pointed something out to Mike. The tables and chairs were hand made. I'm not kidding. There were dove-tail joints in the wood. The tables and chairs were a work of art, obviously crafted with great skill and love. I've never seen anything like that in a restaurant.

We ordered our breakfast. Two women (I think maybe mom and daughter) were working the restaurant.

While we were waiting for our food, we spied some shelves in the corner. On them were wooden objects. Mike went over first (he's more uninhibited that me). He started picking up the wooden items to look at them. He called me over.

"Look at these, baby doll," (yes, he really says that, shut up). "Come over here and look at these. These things are beautiful!"

I got up and walked over. The items on the shelves were wooden bowls and wooden carvings. Unbelievable skill exhibited in these items. Prices were pretty high.

A guy sitting at the next table, eating his eggs, said, "You like those?"

We both looked at him -- greying hair, heavy eyes, lots of lines on his face from sun and smiles.

"Yeah, these are beautiful," Mike said.

"I made 'em," the guy grunted between bites.

Mike and I glanced at each other. Sorta cool. Ok.

Mike launched into a coversation (again, for those of you who don't know him well, this is what the man does) with the egg-eating guy. "You made these? How do you do it? Is this native wood? Do you do it with machines? How long have you been doing this?"

The guy introduced himself: Dan DeLuz. Invited us to go to his little retail shop behind the restaurant to see his other work.

We smiled, shook his hand, told him we were so happy to have met him, and left.

So, when we were in Waiamea or Kona or someplace on a different part of the island later that day, we were in a high-end tourist shop. Pricey stuff everywhere. In unison, we spy a big display behind glass of hand-carved wooden bowls and artwork. We both stepped toward it. The big sign:
We shared a look. We just met this guy at breakfast!

I've since done some research on the man.

Did you know that the U.S. took over Hawaii... I mean like invasion? It was a sovereign land with its own monarchy and government, friendly to Europe and the U.S. In the early 1900's (or 19-teens), at the same time the U.S. was herding native Americans onto reservations, it (we) was overtaking Hawaii. The U.S. kept the princess imprisoned in her bedroom for years. It's quite a sad story.

In the process of the U.S. domination, the native population of Hawaii was almost decimated. There were few native Hawaiians left on the islands. Their culture and skills and art were also endangered. From Dan DeLuz's site:

He virtually single-handedly brought the craft into the latter half of the 20th Century... Largely self-taught, he has in turn, taught most of the younger generation of Hawaii's bowl-turners. Passing on his skills, wisdom and knowledge gathered over the years. The techniques he has developed is masterful and results in bowls which will become cherished family heirlooms.
We had met Dan DeLuz. He's a big deal, people.

So, on this, our last day on the island, we made our way to the home-shop of Dan DeLuz, behind his wife's restaurant, to see his work.

We purchased a small wooden bowl. It is made from a single piece of native koa wood, including its lid, smooth, with heavy grain exposed. It sits on our mantle.

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