A Bright Idea Becomes A Career

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - July 20, 2005
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The Lamp People, Ben, Roy and Ricci Carocol, show
off some of their Hawaiian-print wood lamps

Roy and Michele Caracol are lighting up people’s lives with handmade Hawaiian-print wooden lamps.

Makahiapo Designs, affectionately known as The Lamp People, illuminates Kapiolani Park every third weekend of the month along with other members of the Hawaii Handcrafters and Artists Alliance.

“I look for that sparkle in the customer’s eye to see the ‘Wow, it looks beautiful,’” says Roy, who has other talents using his hands including drawing and playing jazz guitar.

For the past five years, since the Caracols began creating the lamps, everyone in the family has been helping out. Wife Michele does the sales and accounting, and his four children — Ben, Azure, Jantzen and Ricci — help with setting up and taking down the booths.

Known for his tall, slender tower lamps adorned with Hawaiian print fabric, Caracol’s newest lamp design debuted two months ago after he returned from participating in the craft fair at the Merrie Monarch in April. Caracol modeled his new volcano lamps after the tsunami clock which looked like a pyramid or a volcano.

“After just looking at that clock, and I worked on the new design non-stop,” says Caracol. “This one is equalling the selling power of my other lamps.”

Before starting his lamp business, Caracol worked in the body and fender painting industry since high school — until he had a heart attack. As a two-packa- day smoker, his doctor recommended he change careers and wait one year before going back to an easier, less-stressful job.

Then, while reading the bible one day, Caracol came upon the passage “Thy word is a lamp unto thy seat.” When he looked up, there was an old Chinese lantern. It was at that moment that he decided to do a Hawaiian-style lamp.


The Aiea High School graduate says his business has grown tremendously like a runaway truck. Lots of his customers are fellow crafters, locals and visitors. One of the more unusual requests he got was from a family who had an heirloom kimono and they asked if he could make four lamps so the family could all have a treasured part of this family keepsake. He’s also been asked to make other custom designs such as lamps with wedding portraits, or aloha shirts, or even 8-foot-tall lamps. Customers may also choose their own woods or bring their own fabrics if they want to custom decorate their lamp to match throw pillows, runners and curtains.

“I love doing this, as it’s my escape from the stress of life,” says Caracol. “I can work on it from 5 in the morning until late at night. It’s a joy, it’s not work.”

Appearing mostly at Kapiolani Park on the third weekend of the month, they also attend a few other craft fairs, especially during the Christmas season from September to January. The Lamp People will be at Kapiolani Park this Saturday and Sunday with the Hawaii Handcrafters and Artists Alliance.

For more information, call 487-0131.

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