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Hawaii’s Native Forests Provide Beauty From the Inside Out

Statewide Woodworkers Show How It’s Done.

When I ride across the Pali Road or the H-3, both of which run through forest land, I look out at the trees, not being able to recognize any of them as yet, which only makes it even more impressive to me that these forests are the end result of 70 million years of volcanism, weathering, and evolution. What is now growing here are 53 species of trees found no where else on earth. The other 100 were introduced ages ago, but still a considered Hawaiian. And each and every one of these trees are considered a treasure, a blank canvas, a woody path to Aloha.

The look of leather in wood, mango hibiscus plate.

Yearly in April, in conjunction with the Hawaii Forest Industry Association, there is a juried woodworking exhibition at the Academy of Art at Linekona (just down the street from the Blaisdell). I’ve been two years in a row to this very popular display. I honestly think it doubles the visitation due to it’s appeal to men and women. Plus the beauty of the wood draws them in.

And it turns out that almost every piece on display has a story behind it, and the woodcrafters are true proponents of sustainability of resources – the wood they use for their craft. It’s usual for the crafter to wait for a tree to become available, either through disease, fall, or removal and then hear by word of mouth that it’s available. I see ads like this on craigslist too.

Craig side piece, scorched banyon mango sculpture.

The show had such great variety of exhibits, ranging from sculpture, to furniture, to musical instruments. Most were for sale with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to $18K, not too unlike any other kinds of art. I most enjoyed reading the descriptive card by each exhibit, usually with a story behind the piece of wood. A large wooden vessel with an obviously scorched side had it’s origins in a hundred year old banyan tree which at some point in it’s life had been on fire, but survived until removed for a remodeling job. Another gorgeous platter, almost 3 feet wide, was titled Craigside Place, after it’s origin, a large tree removed to make way for a new retirement condo. Or a Koa platter made from a tree taken from the path of burning lava on the big island. Art with a story is the best kind, and this show had about 80 of them. Certainly worth a trip to see, buy, admire, and be inspired.

Pine polar bear bench.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher on May 21, 2011