Mahi Mahi Design: A Tale of Creativity and Dedication
On a sun-drenched morning in Maui, a dear friend, an experienced sailor and fisherman from one of Maui's famous fishing charter boats, paid a visit to my shop. He brought with him an incredible gift – a 45-inch Mahi Mahi dolphin, known as "Strong Strong" in Hawaiian, that he had caught just the day before, carefully laid on a bed of ice. His simple question, "Can you use it?" sparked an exuberant response from me - "Yes, I can!"
With excitement and enthusiasm, I embarked on a project to immortalize this magnificent creature. Fortunately, I had all the necessary materials to craft a plaster mold. We fashioned a square box, mixed the plaster, and gently pressed the Mahi into the mold. Within 20 minutes, the plaster had dried enough to remove the Mahi, though we decided to wait until the following day. The plaster's chemicals rendered the fish inedible, but our artistic endeavor was well underway.
In my initial attempt to create this Mahi mold, the sheer length of the fish barely accommodated my 48-inch wide kiln. As I gingerly attempted to load it, disaster struck - the mold cracked, and my dream of crafting this large fish design seemed to be slipping away. Dejected, I stashed the mold in the corner of my studio with no intentions of ever using it, even considering tossing it in the dumpster.
However, fate had other plans. Soon after my discouragement, I hired an individual named Daniel. He had been working with me for approximately four months when he took an interest in the Mahi Mahi design. When I approached him to inquire about his project, he sternly raised his hand and firmly told me to leave him be. In his artistic fervor, he refused to divulge his work-in-progress. As his boss, I couldn't help but wonder, "How can he tell me to scram?" But I recognized that he was deep in the artistic zone, so I obliged and left him to his work.
To my astonishment, Daniel divided the slab of clay into five separate sections, each measuring 20 inches by 10 inches. This clever approach made it easier to lay the clay onto the plaster mold and remove it one section at a time without causing damage. We applied a coating of cooking oil to the mold, allowing the clay to release without tearing. The dried pieces could then be placed in the kiln without any cracks.
Two holes were crafted atop each clay section to facilitate the attachment of driftwood. The bisque firing proved to be a resounding success, as none of the five pieces cracked. Daniel continued with the glazing process, and upon unloading the Mahi from the glazing firing, we were met with a breathtaking display of brilliant colors. Driftwood was expertly attached to each ceramic panel. Daniel thoughtfully designed the Mahi Mahi with and without driftwood, as both designs garnered immense popularity and have sold successfully since their creation.
What makes this story even more remarkable is that Daniel, despite being colorblind, managed to create a captivating array of glaze colors. The Mahi Mahi creation process takes two to three months. If you're considering it as a gift for someone special, be sure to place your order well in advance. This handmade masterpiece has been incredibly popular and continues to find success since its inception.
I'm constantly introducing new additions to my ceramic collection, each capturing the vibrant hues of nature and enhancing the ambiance of homes and businesses alike. Please sign up for my newsletter to stay updated on the latest designs.
Both residents and visitors to Maui are cordially invited to visit my studio, open from Monday to Saturday, 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. For after-hours visits, please make an appointment by calling 808-633-3396.
You can also find me at the Maui Swap Meet on Saturday mornings from 7:00 am to 12:00 pm. The event is located in the University of Maui's back parking lot at 310 W Kaahumanu Ave, across from the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului, HI 96732-1643.
Mahalo, Albert D. Molina