Display of Woodwork Mastery

Local woodworking at its most exquisite is on display at the Hawaii Forest Industry Association’s annual Hawaii’s Woodshow, Na La’au o Hawai’i. Master woodworker and show coordinator Andy Cole offers some insight into his chosen art:

Only Hawaii woods are accepted in the juried show – koa, mango, kamani, milo, Norfolk pine, macadamia nut, kiawe. Is each best suited to a particular use, such as furniture, turning, sculpting, musical instruments?


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Shawn Forsythe (the show’s lighting designer who due to unforseen circumstances jumped into the title role, without a hitch, just one week prior to the show) as Chan and Jennifer Stierli as Mei Lai Photo by Denise De Guzman

There are certain woods that are better suited for some purposes. Musical instruments require specific woods that offer the best tonal qualities. Furniture makers need woods that will not warp during temperature and humidity variations. Turners and sculptors can work with almost any wood, but some are much easier to work with than others. Durability is always an issue. Some woods are susceptible to bug infestation, and you know, living in Hawaii, we have a few of those.

Can you talk about color range?

All woods have unique color characteristics. They also change dramatically from freshly cut green wood to fully cured wood. Some examples are milo and koa. When milo is first cut, the heartwood – the older growth wood in the center – is a vibrant purple to pink. When it dries, it turns to a medium brown, and after oil is applied it can go to a rich, dark, chocolate color. Koa when first cut can have some golden hues with dramatic contrasts, and then turns to the reddish brown that we are all used to.

Why are some wooden bowls $20 and others cost thousands?

There are machine-made bowls from factories overseas that you will find in souvenir shops, and there are finely handmade turned bowls that you will see in better art galleries. It takes a long time to learn how to turn a well-made bowl with a silky, smooth finish and uniformly thin wall. I teach bowl-turning classes and often get students who think they are going to learn to turn for the money they can make. All say the same thing at the end of class: “Wow, now I know why bowls cost so much!”

What is the significance of the Young Growth Koa display at the exhibit?

The purpose of the Young Growth Koa project is to study the feasibility of using koa that was cultivated for the purpose of being harvested and used. Most koa that has been used previously has been around for a very long time, and an effort is being made to protect the older trees.

What about working with wood is thrilling for you?

I love wood because each piece is unique. No two trees are the same, and no two pieces of wood have the same grain or color. Every species of wood has a different smell and feel when working with it. It is especially rewarding to work with a piece of wood when I know where the tree came from. Trees live only so long when rooted to the ground and growing, but can live on almost forever after a skilled craftsman is done with the wood from the downed tree. At Hawaii’s Woodshow, it is always amazing to see the wide array of woods that grow in Hawaii so expertly crafted by the best artisans in the state.

the TICKET stub
When: Sept. 1-15, Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.)
Where: Honolulu Museum of Art School at Linekona (1111 Victoria St.)
Cost: Free
More Info:woodshow.hawaiiforest.org

1920s Crime Caper

The legend of Honolulu detective Chang Apana runs deep. The world knows of him by way of the fictional Charlie Chan film hero of the ’20s and ’30s, but not everyone realizes a true-life, colorful persona gave root to the silver screen character.

MidWeek photographer Anthony Consillio gets excited when he hears the name Charlie Chan because his wife, Kristen Consillio, is related to the hard-knuckled Chang Apana.

“Apparently, the ‘real’ Charlie Chan (Chang Apana) carried a bullwhip, and he’d charge into bars, round up an illegal gambling ring and come walking out, trailing a whole bar-full of people behind him to take to jail,” Anthony says.

The whip-wielding crime fighter is at the center of Kumu Kahua’s Will the Real Charlie Chan Please Stand Up? It’s the 1920s in a Downtown Honolulu populated by sleek prostitutes, opium dealers and corrupt cops. The storyline rambles, but that doesn’t seem to matter in this tribute to both Apana and his fictional counterpart as the latter aids the former in cracking gambling rings and other forms of corruption, sometimes operating incognito.

Like a neck-string of oyster gems, as Chan might say, or a thread connecting pearls, the scenes are strung together by a flurry of compelling characters swaggering, dancing the Charleston, grumbling and shouting their way across an ever-changing set. Dynamic stage changes make for plenty of fun, with the actors retaining and adding to the tone of the previous scene as they find creative ways to move doors, barrels and desks for the next scene. That, and the whip-cracking pace as Apana (Daryl Bonilla) moves between police headquarters and a brothel with two pinup-pretty denizens who have curves in all the right places (Jennifer Stierli and Tiffany Rose Brown), make Charlie Chan a satisfying diversion.