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I’m participating in the Undersized Urbanite again this year and am honored to be sharing the starting gate with an impressive line-up of miniaturists. (You should go check them out!) I quite doubt that I’ll place this year, but I’m using the contest as a fervent nudge to start a project I’ve wanted to do for quite a while.

Start_of_a_Horse_Race

I think I’m both #4 (a step behind and short) and #3 (tongue hanging out in crazed crafty frenzy).

Just like in a horse race, I’m putting a lot of hope into one entry, and it doesn’t even exist yet.

What I’m trying to build and decorate is one of these:

PlantationHouseMy family has been to Hawaii a couple of times, and I’ve long admired the look of the old plantation cottages. They were built from the late 1800’s into the mid-1900’s as residences for the workers on the sugar plantations. To keep up with the demand for sugar, people from China, Japan, Portugal, Puerto Rico, and several other nations were brought to Hawaii to work the fields and processing plants. A basic cottage, passage to the islands, and a set of clothes for each family member were often provided in the company contract, but things were not very rosy or easy for the workers once they arrived. Case in point, the wages for their 10-hour days were in tokens that were only accepted at the expensive company store and each worker had a numbered ID tag that they often wore for decades. While I wouldn’t exactly condone much of the treatment these people received, their presence shaped Hawaii and made it the unique amalgamation of cultures it is today. The architecture of these plantation homes has proven so timeless that many new homes in Hawaii emulate them (like the photo above). In mine, I want to incorporate some old Hawaiiana, parts of my family, and bits of those different cultures.

I dug up every photo I could find on the internet of these homes, and found some shared traits:

  • They are not unlike bungalows you’d find on the mainland, but have some Asian and native Hawaiian influences.
  • One common trait is a Dutch gable or a double-pitched (Polynesian) roof, where the center is steeper than the sides, but the main roof is always shallow.
  • They are single-walled (no insulation) and squat little houses, sometimes raised on pilings.
  • They had simple windows and a Mission or Colonial-style door, since these were often brought by ship.
  • They almost always had a lanai (porch) at the front, and the X-style railings were classic.
  • Paint colors for these buildings were chosen by the plantation owner, from whatever could be sourced on the islands or shipped from the mainland. Dark green was common (more on that later) and the trim was always white. Red-dyed cedar roof shingles were the norm (since Hawaii’s famous red soil dyes everything red anyway) but many have been up-fitted with metal roofs.

I’ve been busting my backside on the project these past couple of weeks but will save that for next time when my packages arrive. 🙂

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