Carver Profile:


: : Out wandering the high desert… Lost and lonely as coyotes howl in the moonlight… Suddenly, you stumble upon… a Tiki? : :

: : A few years ago, I received a gift in the mail. Someone with a sense of humour sent me an electric blue necktie with a day-glo orange and green palm tree motif. The brand: "Mai Tie... the ties that blind." : :

: : Along with the tie came a letter and some pictures by CC Rider, a Tiki carver and old-school longboard surfer living in the California high desert outside of Pioneertown, a 1940s movie set ghost town. Wait a minute... a surfer living in the desert? Was this, like the tie, another stab at surreal humour? Nope, that's just CC… : :

: : CC and his wife Anne (and now, daughter Catalina) are a couple of California kids from Orange County (Anne worked at Knott's Berry Farm and CC worked at a Disneyland hotel) who picked up and moved to the land of sagebrush, two hours from the nearest beach. "We do a lot of driving," says CC, using a restored 1950s camper to go on their surfing excursions. : :

: : CC and Anne live so far off the grid that picking up the mail means making a 20-mile drive to the post office. Their home / studio, which they've dubbed the "Tiki Hut," is a 1940s homestead cabin that they've re-designed into an industrial-modern home inspired by Palm Springs' architect Albert Frey (whom the couple had a chance to meet a year before he passed away at age 94). : :

: : "First time I got the Tiki bug," remembers CC "was in the 60s when I got to go to my first luau... Tiki torches... exotica music… very surreal for a kid." From then on, CC always "loved getting those plastic Tiki necklaces in the gumball machines..." CC's interest in Polynesian Pop culture also stems from family vacations in Palm Springs. "Tiki was in! The Enchanted Tiki Room opened at Disneyland... along with Polynesian-themed motels in Palm  Springs...  This  was southern California in the 1960s!" : :

: : This interest eventually led CC to try his hand at carving California style Tikis. He's now been at it a little over a decade. "I like to carve all styles... I guess my Tikis can be anything from 'abstract' to 'serious'" says CC. He's even carved a 4-foot tall Tiki mug outfitted with a child-size parasol (as a cocktail umbrella). "Or how about one that went to a little old lady in L.A., a 7-foot Tiki with a... how do I put this... a foot-and-a-half long 'woody'!" : :

: : Working with hardwood, pine, Mexican fan palms, or date palms, CC first sketches out his Tikis by drawing on the trunks. Then, "depending on the look I'm going for," CC will use a mallet and chisel or a chainsaw or a combination of both to carve his design, sometimes finishing off with a propane torch to add coloration. : :

: : CC began selling his Tikis through a statuary store near Palm Springs a few years back. Some of his work has been sold to various Palm Springs motels (such as the Caliente tropics Resort), the Surf Rider Foundation (as a First Place trophy for a surfing contest), shops and restaurants in Seal Beach, a couple of corporate clients, and even Book of Tiki author Sven Kirsten. : :

: : So if you find yourself wandering out in the high desert, lost and lonely as the coyote howls and the crow flies overhead, find solace in knowing that the friendly face of a Tiki may be hiding among the cacti... thanks to CC Rider. : :

More of CC's work, paintings and art by Anne, and other stuff:

John Trivisonno ©2004


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