About Francis

What we do

Francis Pimmel is an award-winning artist, specializing in historically accurate, scale reconstructions of canoes that once sailed on the waterways of the Polynesian Triangle.
Hawaiian Canoes
Hawaiian Canoes


THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER, Lai’e, Hawaii commissioned Francis to build a large model of their “IOSEPA” which is a 57-foot, single masted wa’a kaulua or twin-hulled traditional sailing canoe. Iosepa lays stored at the Hawaiian Village, Lai’e. In that same year, BISHOP MUSEUM, Honolulu, asked Francis to build a 3D version of the sailing canoe illustrated on page 21 of “VOYAGERS” A COLLECTION OF WORDS AND IMAGES BY HERB KAWAINUI KANE.



Curate Décor and Design LLC, on behalf of the BANK OF HAWAII, HONOLULU, commissioned Francis to build a 36 inch long Hawaiian Voyaging Canoe to be the centerpiece of the lobby the their renovated main branch in downtown Honolulu.


Carved numerous canoe models for collectors around the world, interior designers and organisations, but the highlight was the completion of a 32 inch long model of the very famous Fiji Drua which was the largest, finest and above all fastest sea-going vessel ever built by natives of Oceania. This model is a precise scale-down version of the life size Fiji Drua on display at the SUVA
MUSEUM of the island of Fiji.The model was acquired in 2016 by the POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER, Lai’e, Hawaii.

That same year, Francis Pimmel’s career as a scale modeler of Oceanic canoes is mentioned and illustrated in a newly published book by Editions du Signe and written by Veronique Arnould “ALSATIANS IN THE WORLD, 100 REMARKABLE CAREERS”.


Amongst the many models crafted during that year, one of them deserves special attention and this is the double hull Cook Islands canoe with its 730 individual designs and numerous carvings. The hulls of this model were inspired by the life size Cook Island s single hull in the New-Zealand museum TE PAPA TONGAREWA. However this model could not have been accurately completed without the numerous drawings done by Jean Neyret of the Musees de la Marine, Paris, in his 2 volumes PIROGUES OCEANIENNES. This same year Francis Pimmel got this wonderful accolade by Dave Bell, the producer of the filming of THE VOYAGE OF THE HOKULE’A for the National Geographic Society, to be the Herb Kawanui Kane in 3D. Indeed many of the scale models made by Francis Pimmel are inspired by Herb Kane drawings and paintings.

2013 – 2014

While finishing work on a Fijian Drua scale model, Francis was commissioned by one of Conde Nast Traveler readers rated top Hotel Resort on the islands of Hawaii to build a range of 15 large Polynesian scale model canoes to decorate the Suites of the Hotel, and a 36 inch long scale model of the Hokule’a as well as a Samoan double hull voyaging canoe to decorate the Lobby of that same Hotel. The requested lead time was 6 months. Thanks to a staff of 4 and years of experience in building scale models, every model was finished on time, custom crated and ready for delivery in accordance with the terms and conditions.


The content of this website is attesting to the level of achievement by Francis Pimmel and the belief by collectors and art dealers alike that it is of historical dimension. Francis Pimmel is the only scale modeler who has ever undertaken to showcase canoes from across Oceania, rather than those from a single Pacific island, and to replicate them true to their ancient appearance while the quality of work and finish is one of our time. None of the pictures in this website has been photo enhanced . They are illustrating the true finish and beauty of each canoe or component.



Francis Pimmel was commissioned to build 5 canoe models for the Kahala Hotel & Resort in Honolulu, each 32″ in length. For this project, Pimmel aimed to reproduce ancient style lashings that are rare on old canoe models, and even more so on contemporary Hawaiian canoes. The very fine and intricate lashing of the gunnels to the hull, and those holding both parts of a manu together are what make those models unique and worth studying. Pimmel was particularly pleased with the 32″ Hawaiian racing canoe carved out of very curly Koa and red tarp imitation using Cardinal wood. The sail is a custom design by the artist, and the double blocks crown this extremely sporty looking canoe.


2007 was also the Melanesian phase for Francis Pimmel, who is a great admirer of canoes of the Solomon Islands – in particular the war canoes from San Cristoval. As a collector of old canoe models, Pimmel was frustrated at the scarcity of old Solomon Islands canoe models. The rare nature of such canoes led Pimmel to make his own, the first of which, with its Nguzu nguzu and prow finial, can be seen here. The canoe is inlaid on both sides with mother of pearl and paua shell. The design is representative of an old Solomon Island legend. Another recent addition to Pimmel’s range of Oceanic canoes is the Samoan Paopao canoe, decorated with shell inlays.



Francis Pimmel travels Europe to conduct research into ship and canoe models, and artifacts of Oceania at renowned marine and ethnography museums. Key stops on this trip were the National Maritime Museum in London Greenwich and the PittRivers Museum in Oxford. The collection of artifacts from Papua New-Guinea at the Horniman Museum in South London proved a great source of research material as well as The Musee de la Marine in Paris with its early models of Hawaiian double hull canoes. The Musee d’Ethnographie in Neuchatel provided an exciting opportunity to study the Marquesan canoe models illustrated in Hadden & Hornell’s book “Canoes of Oceania”. On his return Francis completed his first double hulled Marquesan islands canoe model, which is decorated at the stern of both hulls with sculptures typical to those islands. Illustrations of such Marquesan carvings are extremely rare to come by. The sculptures on this model are exact replicas of original carvings on exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum. It is said that the lines of the Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hokulea are derived from that of the double hulled Marquesan canoe.



Francis Pimmel completed a 4 foot model of King Kamehameha I war canoe. It is the only type of Hawaiian canoe that was equipped with western type sprit sails and rigging, as well as with a bronze swivel cannon. This historically accurate model has found its home in Beverly Hills, California. It is said that those swivel canons had a bad reputation and were prone to either explode or fire innacuratly and that the English were more than happy to trade those canons with King Kamehameha against sandal wood which was than sold in China against silk and other rare items in high demand in Europe.



Awarded 1st Place in Open category at Hawaii State sponsored and juried wood show. Pimmel’s winning work was a 24″ model of the Hokulea. Click here to view a similar size model of the voyaging canoe.



Completion of the model “Yapluka 60,” a 3 foot long scratch built replica of the 60 foot long French built modern catamaran. The model features a 5 foot high head and mainsail, and a fully featured cockpit, saloon & galley as well as the full regalia of fittings. The “Yapluka 60” can be viewed at www.yapluka.fr. The model was introduced to the Yapluka shipyard who complimented Francis Pimmel for the exactitude of the work. The patron for this model was a member of the Hearst Family in Los Angeles. Click here to view an image of the model Yapluka 60. It is important to note that modern cruising and sailing catamaran and trimaran vessels are the direct descendants of the highly evolved Polynesian double hull canoe. Visit Flickr for photos of the step by step construction of this model.



Home and Garden TV (HGTV) feature Francis Pimmel and his work on their nationwide show “Modern Masters” on November 4, 2001. Details on HGTV.com.

Commissioned to build an 18″ scale model of an ancient Hawaiian Voyaging Canoe to be presented to Dr.Yoshitsu Sen XV Grand Tea Master from Urasenke Hawaii Shibu in presence of the Imperial Prince Norihito and Princess Hisako Takamodo of Japan.



Francis Pimmel is commissioned to build a replica of the Hawaiian Fishing Canoe for the Haleakala National Park Pavilion.

Awarded 1st Place in Open category at Hawaii State sponsored and juried wood show. The winning exhibit was a 6 foot long scale model of the “Malia” type outrigger canoe.

Commissioned to build a 6 foot long scale model of the surfing canoe “Ka-Moi”, made famous by Duke Kahanamoku. This model was executed with the collaboration of Tay Perry of the Friends of Hokule’a and Hawai’iloa who provided measurements, archive photos and construction details, and with Paul Dolan, the Outrigger’s Club historian.



A 3 foot long scale model of the Voyaging canoe Hokule’a built by Francis Pimmel sails aboard the English luxury liner QE II from Honolulu to Southampton, England.



A scale model canoe built by Francis Pimmel was selected to be presented to the President of China, Jiang Zemin, during his stopover in Honolulu before leaving to the US continent to meet with President Cliinton.



Awarded 1st Place in Open category at Hawaii State sponsored and juried wood show. The winning exhibit was a 12″ scale model of a Hawaiian voyaging canoe made from more than 145 components.