One day, James – aka Trader Tobin – decided he wanted to try this thing called tiki. His plan of attack was to make a painkiller cocktail and purchase a tiki mug online. A short five days later, and at the insistence of his wife Marshell, they were at Tiki Oasis.
It was written in the stars.
Fast forward several years, and now James and Marshell have an amazing tiki lounge in their home. It’s name? Hunahuna Hut, which means “cleverly hidden” in old Marquesan. The couple figured, what’s the best place to hide your tiki bar from the kids? How about the master bedroom? Yep. The Hunahuna Hut converts from a tiki-themed primary bedroom to tiki lounge when they have company.
Trader Tobin is now a master lamp maker. Most of the lamps in the Hunahuna Hut have been handmade by James.
It started out of necessity. James couldn’t find many lamps online or quickly, so using his existing woodworking and prop making skills, he started making lamps on his own. Early on, he was obsessed with making a twelve-sided dodecahedron shaped lamp. He did the math, and a few iterations later, he perfected the process.
James had made six or seven lamps for the Hunahuna Hut and friends when he got an order for ten lamps for Max’s South Seas Hideaway, a grand tiki bar opened in Grand Rapids. What an honor!
Now his lamps are in demand for home and commercial bars alike. He’s currently working on orders for several new and existing commercial bars in California and Florida. As a personal side project, he also has a goal to replicate all of the lamps from the vintage Orchids of Hawaii catalogs.
Can tiki dedication test true love? You bet. Try installing a starlight ceiling with your spouse if you want to find out. James had suggested the idea of creating a ceiling to the hut that looked like it was open to the night sky. Marshell enthusiastically agreed. Sounds simple, right? After three days of them working together in the attic moving attic insulation, installing 480 fiber optic lines, painting the ceiling black, drilling holes, keeping track of all the lines, building bamboo gutters, and setting up a generator to get the stars to twinkle and change colors, an amazing feature for the Hunahuna Hut was established. More importantly, their love had passed a trial by fire.
James and Marshell are also both active members of the Arizona based Tiki group Tiki AZ, a social and educational tiki organization of more than 1,200 members.
As I see it, James and Marshell’s stars are shining bright.