The look of Lava


POSTED: Friday, January 16, 2009

Imagine that you are a stone. Someone decides to pick you up and take you home, putting you on display until they lose interest and you become a doorstop. Wouldn't you want to find your way home?




BIA-Hawaii Homebuilding and Remodeling Show

        » Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday and next Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 24; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 25

» Where: Blaisdell Exhibition Hall


» Admission: $5; $7 for four-day passes; children free with paid adult; $1 for seniors on Senior Sunday. For a $2-off coupon visit



This is the description that Daniel Akaka Jr., director of cultural affairs at Mauna Lani Resort, offers when describing why folks shouldn't remove lava rocks from their original homes. “;Life thrives in all things, both animate and inanimate,”; Akaka explained. “;It's hard to tell where a stone originated. It could have been part of a heiau or fishpond. So many hands handled it and put their mana into that stone.”;

Dozens of rocks find their way back to Hawaii each year, he said. Some arrive with no return address; others with notes describing bouts of bad luck or misfortune. Other notes make apologies to Madam Pele.

Even those who understand Akaka's point, however, might be tempted by the dark, rugged beauty of the stones, seeing them as potential elements in home decor.

A compromise: the Eldorado Stone Hawaiian Collection, to be introduced at the BIA Homebuilding and Remodeling Show next week. The line uses molds taken of various stones to create lava-rock veneers that can be used in an array of projects, from walls and landscaping to entryways, columns or focal walls.

Akaka gave the project a formal blessing. “;They were respectful of culture and nature,”; he said.

Eldorado Stone sent a team to the Big Island to work with cultural leaders and community members to learn about the types of lava rock and their cultural importance.

“;They are a mainland company but they came here with an understanding that stones have mana, that they are part of the aina, and acted appropriately,”; said Andrew Dedrick, operations manager of Bella Pietra, a natural stone design center with showrooms in Honolulu, Hilo and Kona. “;They gathered all of the stones for the project, made the molds on the Big Island and returned all of the stones to their original locations.”;

Many people want to recreate an authentic Hawaiian look, he said, but it's difficult to incorporate lava rocks because of the limited resources. The veneers offer a solution without removing any rocks from their natural locations.

“;Harvesting these rocks is detrimental to the environment—there are cultural and archaeological elements to be considered and endangered species,”; Dedrick said.

Bella Pietra carries the collection's four distinct lava veneers, each with a unique color, texture and shape. Field rock has rustic cut edges and is popular in both interior and exterior projects. Pahoehoe, which is formed from slow-moving lava, sports linear textures with a uniform thickness and clear finish. Beach rock, known as 'ili 'ili, features smooth contours of stones rounded by the ocean over long periods of time. The Pacific lava line emphasizes depth and texture.

“;In Hawaiian culture, we believe that everything is living and sacred, including lava stones. It is even said that if you remove the lava rock, you will encounter bad luck until you return it,”; said Bella Pietra owner Layla Dedrick. “;This new lava-rock veneer line is the perfect solution because it looks like the real thing, but preserves Hawaii's natural lava fields.”;


For information on the lava rock veneers call 587-7779, or visit for a list of showrooms.