Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Texas Tiki Week: Eekum Bookum!

Alas, because of work and other commitments I could not attend every Texas Tiki Week event on the schedule, but I was able to attend more than I'd gotten to the past two years. I just had to prioritize. At the top of my list was John Mulder's seminar on Thursday. Mulder is the artistic talent behind Eekum Bookum, one of the top producers of tiki mugs in the country. He produces such quality work that other established tiki artists come to him with their designs, because standards. Take a look as some of the impressive mugs he's done in recent years.

As he has for the past several years, Mulder designed and produced the official Texas Tiki Week mug. This year, the design was an armadillo, revisiting an extremely popular tiki week mug from maybe five years back that quickly sold out and has been nearly impossible to buy used. Armadillos are popular amongst Texas tikiphiles, suffice to say. This one's an entirely different design, but the armadillo is way cute and had a matte finish, coming in both brown and green glazes. It's a super-cute design, and I expect it to sell out as well. Mulder also brought along his original clay sculpt for the mug, which gave his seminar attendees a first-hand look at how much shrinkage happens when a mug is fired in a kiln. The final mug was maybe 20 percent smaller than the original sculpt.

Mulder used the excellent mug he designed for Four Kahunas up in the DFW area as an example of how the sculptor must take undercuts and other angles into account when building the mold that will be used to mass produce the mugs. The next time I'm up in the Metroplex, I know where I'm stopping.

Being the thorough instructor that he is, Mulder was thoughtful enough to bring along the mold with which he'd cast the armadillo mug. He'd filled it with slip earlier in the day, so it was ready to open by the time of the lecture. He showed us how he unstrapped the mold, cut away excess slip from the pour hole, then carefully pulled the various sections of the mold apart to reveal the pristine, new and fragile mug. Mulder held it up for all to see, then dropped it to the floor where it made a big splat! As the audience gasped in dismay, Mulder calmly scraped it up and announced the former mug was now a wall plaque. Mug maker humor, that.

There was one unmitigated tragedy, though. As Mulder continued discussing his creative process and various pitfalls and pratfalls in the ceramic business, a waitress from Last Straw (which hosted the event on their patio) came out and began serving everyone Paper Plane cocktails. Yum! Since she could only fit around eight or so on her tray at one time, she passed out all she had, then went back inside for another round. And when the next round was passed out, she went back inside again. She never quite made it over to me, but as I knew she was going back for more, I didn't think anything of it--I just focused on what Mulder was saying and continued to take photos. It was another 20 minutes before I finally realized that she wasn't coming back. You know you're doing something wrong when you go to a tiki party and wind up being the only person to not get a cocktail. Cue the saddest of the sad trombones.

One more cool thing to share before I leave you with a bunch of random photos: A cool think Texas Tiki Week started last year (at least I think it started last year) was the "paint your own mug" event. Mulder brought along special dark glazed mugs for folks who'd signed up for them, and the attendees custom-painted them with enamel that would set permanently once oven-baked. I know a lot of folks had fun painting their own mugs last year, and the participants this year took it very seriously. It's a fun tradition I hope they're able to continue for years to come.

Someday, I hope to produce a set of custom mugs for the Lagoon of Mystery. Maybe I'll contract with Eekum Bookum for this. Maybe I'll try it myself. I mean, I didn't know how to carve wood before I started building my tiki bar, so sculpting clay wouldn't be all that different. Of course, mold making, glazes and dealing with slip would entail a very steep learning curve. Lack of a kiln is an issue, but for the cost of contracting out, I could get a decent small one that should be more than adequate for the limited number of mugs I'd need to make for myself and friends. See? This is what happens when I go to seminars--I get ideas...

Texas Tiki Week: Opening Night
Texas Tiki Week: Rainey Street Crawl
Texas Tiki Week: Tiki Market

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