Hawaiian Paradise Urns
Funerary Urns and Artwork created on the Big Island of Hawaii

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Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I care for my wood bowls?
How long does it take to finish a bowl?
What type of finish is on each piece?
Are the finishes food safe?
Why do I see patches in some of the objects? What are patches anyway?
What about the coloring and markings of Norfolk Pine?
What is the difference between Cook and Norfolk Pine?
How thin are the bowls or vessels? Is thinner better?
When does the artist decide what he will do with a piece of wood?
What about the Capacity of the Urns?




How should I care for my wood bowls?
Once the bowl is used, the original art finish will dull. Bowls may be hand washed with soap and water. Dry immediately. Do not let liquid sit in the bowl or leave it soaking in a sink. An occasional coating with mineral oil will bring back the sheen and depth of grain. Nylon, plastic or wooden utensils are recommended for use with all functional wooden bowls. To maintain the finish of a functional bowl, use only mineral oil from the very first time you use it. Apply the mineral oil lightly, let it sit a few minutes, then wipe off the excess. Other oils may cause stickiness; vegetable and/or olive oil will become rancid. To maintain the finish of a non-functional (art) bowl, apply a light coat of fine furniture paste wax with a soft cloth. Let dry and buff to a sheen with a clean, soft cloth.
NOTE: The application of mineral oil to a Norfolk Pine bowl is not recommended.



Additional Information:
Take care to avoid overspray from chemical products, such as glass cleaner, as it will permanently etch the finish. Direct sunlight affects all wood. Ultraviolet rays tend to darken or fade wood, depending upon the type of wood and the finish. You should also keep in mind that if you drop a bowl or hollow vessel, you should expect it to break, unless it has very thick walls.
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How long does it take to finish a bowl??
The time to finish a bowl depends a lot on the individual artist, the wood and the type of finish applied. There is no set time for the finishing of a given bowl. As each piece of wood is different, the amount of time needed to properly finish the bowl is also different. For example, a Norfolk Pine bowl may take 2 or 3 weeks for the oiling process necessary to bring out the translucence of the wood. A Norfolk Pine hollow vessel may take as long as 4 to 6 weeks for essentially the same process. The Norfolk Pine process totally saturates the cellular structure with oils and resins. In essence, the oils and resins replace the spaces in the cells that once held water, and are converted to a plastic like finish due to interaction with the atmosphere. With other woods such as Koa, it may take as little as a week to finish a bowl once it has been sanded to the proper level. Of course, this still involves many steps and considerable care on the part of the artist to bring out the beauty of the wood.
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What type of finish is on each piece?
The type of finish on each art object can be different, depending upon the wood and the preference of the artist. Generally, Norfolk Pine bowls and vessels use some sort of Danish style mixture that includes oils and polyurethane. Other woods may also use similar mixtures or finishes, though some artists prefer to use pure oils, lacquer or shellac on some of their work. Recently, there has been more experimentation with alternative finishes and embellishments. Though these finishes differ, most can be treated similarly to keep them looking fresh and new.
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Is the finish food safe?
When the finish is dry, it is food safe. Some finishes are inherently food safe, such as shellac. In fact, shellac is used as an additive or coating in many foods. The hard candy coating of many products is due to a coating of shellac. Other finishes are also food safe once they are cured. Most artists prefer to use finishes that contain no residual elements that could cause problems, and therefore, you will not likely find objects in our gallery that contain such oils as walnut oil or peanut oil, which cause severe allergic reactions for some people. We try to identify the finish on each object. If you have a question about a particular item, please contact us prior to your purchase.
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Why do I see patches in some of the objects? What are patches anyway?
Patches are used to repair cracks or fractures that are naturally occurring within a particular piece of wood or are caused by the wood drying. Often, patches are also used to fill bark pockets and other imperfections in the wood.

The patch most commonly is called a butterfly patch, or bowtie. Much of the rest of the world refers to this type of patch as a “Flying Dutchman.” Nobody on the island seems to know why it is called this. At least the names “Butterfly“ and “bowtie“ seem to describe the basic shape of most patches.

The butterfly is a traditional Hawaiian style patch. This same patch was used by ancient Hawaiians to repair their food and storage bowls. A bowl with many patches is more valuable than a bowl with no repairs.

Sometimes you will also see patches that look like narrow slats. These are called “stiches“. Stiches were not normally used in traditional Hawaiian vessels, but were found on occasion, and are used by some artists on contemporary work.

Generally, an object that contains patches is considered to be more valuable than one that does not.
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What about the coloring and markings of Norfolk Pine and other woods?
A Norfolk Pine bowl or vessel that is turned within a very short time of cutting from the tree will be mostly a light color. As the wood ages, it is attacked by a fungus that turns the cellular structure of the wood dark, to almost black in places. This is essentially the beginning of the decomposition process when the log is in the natural forest. In Hawaii, with our warm climate and high humidity, this process can start within a few weeks after the tree is cut down. The effect is called "Spalting" and is very much sought after by collectors. The optimum balance of unaffected and spalted wood can make for a striking effect. Everyone prefers a different level of spalting. Spalting also affects many other light colored woods, and the extent of the effect is different with each species. With some, it is seen as a very thin outline, in others, a very dark effect almost like a stain. Some dark woods, like koa are very seldom seen with evidence of spalting. This is partly due to the dark color obscuring the effect of spalting, and partly because some woods (like Koa) are treated differently to help preserve the initial character of the wood before turning. Sometimes, the lighter sapwood of dark woods like Koa can show spalting with startling effect.

In a Norfolk Pine bowl or vessel, you may sometimes see regularly spaced whitish specks or long lines radiating from the center of the piece. These are the result of the pine needles natural to this wood. The needles continue to grow outward from the center of the tree under the bark.

Norfolk Pine and other woods such as Mango will sometimes also have small holes left by wood boring beetles, long since departed. Most artists will seal or fill these holes if they are very large.

A Norfolk Pine tree will sometimes have a natural dark center, but most are solid amber. More commonly, Cook Pine has a darker center than Norfolk Pine, and is one of the signs people use to tell the two species apart. After falling the tree, all other color is derived from bacteria in the beginning process of decomposition known as spalting, as described above.

All woods have some variation in color and grain pattern. For example, Koa, generally thought of as a very dark wood is also found in colors ranging to a very light tan known as Blonde Koa. Koa and other woods can also exhibit striking grain variations commonly know as "Curl". This is a waviness in the grain that can take on an almost three dimensional effect. It is also called chatoyance, like the effect found in Tiger Eye stones. Mango and other woods exhibit curliness, but Koa is the most famous and sought after. It can be a simple, light effect, or extremely striking, vibrant effect depending on the individual piece of wood. Generally, the more curl in a piece of wood, the greater value the object will command, as curliness is quite rare in most woods.
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What is the difference between Cook and Norfolk Pine?
Some people think it takes a botanist to really tell the difference, but it is generally accepted that Norfolk Pine tends to be all amber with concentric limbs, and Cook Pine tends to have a darker center surrounded by amber with nonconcentric limbs. A botanist has suggested that these 2 types of trees have hybridized over time here in the Hawaiian islands. Often an artist will find a piece of wood that will have concentric limbs, yet it will have the "Cook Pine" center. A Cook Pine tree center can be so dense that it is very difficult to achieve translucence that most of the artists turning Norfolk Pine strive for. Also, Elevation, rainfall and other factors such as the nutrients in the local soil and local wind patterns make each tree unique.



How thin are the bowls or vessels? Is thinner better?
Many artists like to turn very thin objects. With woods like Norfolk Pine, where thinner vessel walls make it easier to achieve translucence, this makes sense. Also, for some art objects, thin walls can make the article look more delicate. (And a thin walled vessel is, in fact more delicate. With many thin walled vessels, the object will break easier than glass if it is dropped.) Many of the artists turn to wall thicknesses from approximately 3/16ths to 3/8ths of an inch. You will find some bowls or vessels that are considerably thicker. Generally speaking, thinner bowls and vessels are intended to be art objects, while those with thicker walls are more appropriate as functional vessels, though even a thick walled vessel can be a beautiful piece of art.

Just because a bowl or vessel is thin does not necessarily make it better. Look at the form and shape of the piece, and decide whether it is appropriate for the use you expect. Only the owner can decide. With art, as with many other things, beauty (and appropriate thickness) is in the eye of the beholder.
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When does the artist decide what he or she will do with a piece of wood?
For most artists, the first decision of form begins with the raw log and a chainsaw. The second decision of form is made while the piece spins on the lathe and is dependent on the grain pattern and the wood. Often, once the artist starts cutting the raw wood, he or she will find grain patterns or effects that weren't expected. Though most artists start with a general idea of what shape they are going to turn, the creation of an aesthetically pleasing piece usually involves some modification of the original plan as the layers of wood are removed. In essence, the wood tells the artist what it wants to become, and in some instances, trying to make the wood assume a different shape only results in a myriad of pieces as the object explodes on the lathe.

When an artist sets out to create a "Spirit Vessel" or Funerary Urn, it is even more important to pay attention to the wood. Many artists sit with the wood for awhile before beginning to turn it, and will only turn wood for these sort of vessels when they are of clear mind, turning only when they are in the correct frame of mind involving sensitivity, reverence, and the intent of making a special vessel that can carry the spirit of the new owner or special objects (in the case of a Spirit Bowl) or the remains of the deceased (in the case of a Funerary Urn).
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What about the Capacity of the Urns?
Generally speaking, the volume of most remains (ashes) provided by the Crematory or Mortuary will be approximately 200 cubic inches. As many people wish to scatter part of the ashes, urns of less than 200 cubic inches capacity can be appropriate. In some instances, "sharing sets" are available, where the total of several urns meets the need for 200 cubic inches of capacity. In this way, each surviving member of the family can keep some of the ashes. Though the urns avaiable from Hawaiian Paradise Urns are intended for human ashes, they would also be appropriate for other purposes. The capacity of an urn for other purposes may be significantly different than for display or burial or human ashes.
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