One of the beautiful things about shopping local for the holidays is the added meaning, knowing the hands by with it was made.
The work of a local artist is on display at his daughter’s store, showing not only is creativity handed down, its value grows.
Robert “Bunky” Bakutis has clay running through his veins.
“This is what keeps you young,” the ceramicist laughs.
It started as a hobby in his 20’s while teaching literature, when he read a book on Lithuania, from where his grandfather came.
“I found out that the number one natural resource in Lithuania is clay and I went oh wow, must be some sort of connection there you know,” said Bakutis. “Like I said I didn’t go to school for it I just took to it.”
Like a fish to water.
“It’s very open to your mood, your intensity and also to nature you know that’s what I love about it it spans the whole gamut of things that I enjoy,” he said. “Like surfing is the same way.”
Bunky’s synonymous with surfing, Makaha, and Waianae where he’s been for nearly 50 years, molding clay for now most of it, and now most of his 73 years.
Bunky likes to stand at the wheel, better for his back…
“Age has its limits too though, your muscles sometimes getting shock waves coming through them and stuff like that,” Bakutis said.
He takes me to see how the ocean, the eruption, nature inspires his work. You can come to his Pokai Studios gallery by appointment at pokaistudios.com, go to the Waianae farmers market December 15th, or go to a Ward Village store called Kealopiko. It’s designed and co-owned by his daughter, Ane Bakutis.
“So I grew up without any play doh with just clay and schlepping ceramics around to all the craft fairs in Honolulu,” she said.
She invited him to sell his pieces at Kealopiko’s pop up Makahiki Market last Sunday.
“This is really one of his only events to get out to the public for new eyes to see his work,” she explained. “Otherwise he’s just home in Waianae.”
But standing at the wheel…
“I took 20 cups to that show, I came back with 2 so I figure I might as well make some more,” he said. “Everybody loves cups.”
And loving every minute.