Category Archives: Bamboo craft and tools

Bamboo hand crafts and tools for working with bamboo

Bamboo for social enterprise

social ent girlsHaving had some previous exposure to social enterprises, seeing this article, I was immediately struck by how apt bamboo is to base a business on that is operated for social benefit rather than shareholder profit.

Wikipedia defines a social enterprise as:

“an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being, rather than maximizing profits for external shareholders.”

Bamboo covers all the bases here, brilliantly.

Human well-being

Only a modest capital investment is needed to generate a steady income from bamboo. Bamboo can create employment and training opportunities without large capital investment. Anecdotal evidence suggests that bamboo makes people happy.

Environmental well-being

Bamboo is a fast growing and sustainable resource. Agricultural chemicals are not needed. There is very little waste. All parts of bamboo can be used for something, from construction to enhancing soil. Bamboo helps retain water in the watershed and acts as a bio-filter for pollutants. But if you’ve been here before, you know all this.

Bamboo House India
social enterprise, bamboo

The co-founders of Bamboo House India

While India is undoubtedly a major producer of bamboo and bamboo products, market linkages for small producers are not easily accessible. This is especially so for tribal artisans. Social enterprise Bamboo House India is a link for small producers to the geographically diverse markets of India. The enterprise trains their artisans, provides cash advances to them to buy raw materials and, negotiates and pays wages. These producers are not at the mercy of market vagaries for their income. You can learn more about social enterprises at Social Traders, or Amazon and eBay have a good range of books available for purchase.

soc ent3 soc ent2 bamboo furniture, social enterprise, bamboo

Click on any of the images above to see more of the Bamboo House India furniture catalogue.

References:

Bamboo compost bin

After the inspirational  and motivational inaugural Bamboo Sculpture Competition in Mullumbimby recently, I got to thinking about how to use bamboo to age my current compost bin contents. I trawled through endless Google images seeking my simple solution. And it really was simple. The image to the left is what I based my compost aging bin on.

bamboo compost bins, bamboo

The original inspiration – simplicity itself

bamboo compost bin, bamboo

My version, replete with compost

First I set some bamboo stakes in a square to guide my stack and keep it more or less square. Then, I harvested several small culms of obvious age. The design I had in mind only had small gaps between the rails, so the compost would stay inside. The harvested culms were then sawed to length, and I started stacking – with a bit of tie-wire here and there to hold things together as I went. I’m rather pleased with the result.

bamboo compost bins, bambooMy research also took me to Amazon and eBay. I was surprised to discover some very sexy bamboo compost bins (pails, for some) – the ones that live in your kitchen, before the contents make the trip to the outside bin. The research also provided another revelation – bamboo charcoal deodorisers for compost bins. (I lead a sheltered life). Who leaves their compost in the kitchen that long?

 

The inaugural Bamboo Sculpture Competition

bamboo sculptureThe weekend of 6-7 September, 2014, saw the Bamboo Society of Australia (BSA) put on its first Bamboo Sculpture competition. The competition was held in conjunction with the Living Community Festival at the Mullumbimby Community Gardens (7 Sept.). The weekend was, in a nutshell, fantastic.

The comp attracted a dozen entries, each one distinctive, and diverse, in its own way. The judges must have struggled. First prize and the People’s Choice Award went to the two entries by the same creators. There are lots of images of the weekend on the BSA Facebook page.

bamboo sculptureThe event was made more fascinating for me because I was on site for the two days leading up to the exhibition. Most of the entries were so large that they were (re)constructed on site. Just by hanging about and lending a hand here and there, I picked up some useful tips on working with bamboo. On the Sunday there were also impromptu demonstrations around the BSA bamboo yurt. Pictured above is Munir from Giant Grass. Munir travelled from Melbourne to create the sculpture behind him. Here, he is showing a fascinated crowd how to bend bamboo using heat, one of the processes he used to make the sculpture of bamboo funnels.

bamboo world, victor cusackAlso present was Victor Cusack. Victor is well-known in Australia as probably our most prolific writer on Bamboo. He was on hand to promote the beautiful new edition of his book, Bamboo World. You may find it on eBay au.

It was something of a revelation for me to meet a group of people who are so passionate about bamboo and so generous with their knowledge. Really, all they talked about, with very few exceptions, was bamboo, in its innumerable manifestations – growing, collecting, constructing with, creating with… Future events are planned. Keep an eye on the BSA website.

 

Bamboo treehouse

bamboo tree house, bamboo treehouseGuadua Bamboo, rich source of practical information about bamboo, recently featured an architect-designed tree house in Columbia. The tree house started life as an idea for a small bamboo house for the grandkids, but Guadua Bamboo architect Jaime Peña suggested a tree house. He designed this stunning tree house drawing on principles of biomimetic architecture.

Biomimicry, examines nature, its models, systems, and processes for the purpose of gaining inspiration to solve human problems. Biomimetic architecture doesn’t replicate natural forms, but rather seeks to understand the rules governing those forms.

For examples in architecture think:

bamboo treehouse, sagrad familia

  • Barcelona’s Sagrada familia – columns that model the branching canopies of trees to solve statics problems in supporting the vault;
  • London’s Gherkin – inspired by the Venus Flower Basket Sponge;
  • The Eden Project in Cornwall – modelled after soap bubbles and pollen grains to construct the spherical shapes;
  • And now, this highly desirable tree house in Columbia.

bamboo treehouse, bamboo tree house“Of course, as bamboo is a natural, strong, flexible and sustainable resource, it automatically became the main building material of choice. Fractals, the golden ratio and sacred geometries, were studied, interpreted and applied in the proposal. This resulted in a spiral dome with ellipses and arcs as the basic structural geometries of the bamboo tree house.”

Biomimicry is not limited to architecture. For some fascinating examples of biomimicry in agriculture, medicine, natural cleaning and more, see Biomimcry.net.

I highly recommend viewing the images of the tree house on Guadua Bamboo. (Click on a small image to start the slide show). Breathtaking and inspirational.

References:

Drill bits for bamboo, part 2

drill bits for bamboo, forstner bit, triple cutterOn a recent trip to Japan I purchased a few more tools for working bamboo. Visiting yet another large home improvement store on the outskirts of Tokyo, the Star-M triple cutter was spotted. Not by me though: one of my kind and generous Tokyo hosts drew my attention to it. (Thanks Koh). I was too focused on locating more spurred drill bits to even notice the picture of a clean hole in bamboo on the packet.

drill bits for bamboo, forstner bitsWith a little online research it was identified, in English, as the Star-M triple cutter. It is listed in the special use category of the Star-M catalogue.  The drill bit is made in the style of a Forstner bit rather than the more common auger bit.

As a Forstner bit, the triple cutter requires more pressure than an auger bit, so it’s better suited to a drill press than a portable drill. In the absence of a drill press, I did, however, manage to drill a very neat, clean 10 mm hole in a section of dry bamboo using my portable drill without too much trouble. The small diameter probably helped here. And a measure of patience. I had to stop from time to time to clear the shavings from the hole that started to smoulder slightly. Overall though, I’m very pleased with the end result.

Amazon have a selection of Forstner bits. Although I couldn’t see any from Star-M, there are some with similar tips to the triple cutter. The situation is similar on eBay au. If you have your own drill press you probably already have a selection of Forstner bits. Do you have recommendations on the best Forstner bits for bamboo? Please leave a comment.

drill bits for bamboo, Star-M, forstner bitsThe Star-M catalogue makes for fascinating browsing (if you like drill bits). It also offers some tips on sharpening the bits. On the Star-M website you will also find this:

The skilled workers grind the spur and cutting lip by hand one by one and confirm the sharpness”

Confidence inspiring.

Damyang Bamboo Museum

TheBM lift doors bamboo museum at Damyang is quite a treat for anyone with more than a passing interest in the uses of bamboo. One room is dedicated to an exhibit about how bamboo grows, but the museum concentrates on displays that cover every imaginable use of bamboo, and then some. Even the lift doors have a bamboo motif.

Many of the displays, unfortunately for me, remain a mystery, as the museum provides very little interpretation in English. Given the number of other native English speakers I saw during my visit (none), this is hardly surprising.

One whole room is devoted to photos, graphics, and written information about the production and benefits of bamboo salt. But that’s all I can tell you about it really, as only Korean is used for interpretation. I’m sure it’s fascinating.

bamboo museumThere are several souvenir shops attached to the museum. Each one offers a slightly different range of bamboo products. They all smell wonderful – like freshly dried bamboo, a grassy, woody, friendly, comforting kind of scent.

The bamboo museum sits among gardens, nurseries, sculptures, and, of course, its own little bamboo forest.bamboo museum Bamboo museum Bamboo museum

I’ve got stacks more photos of displays within the museum, but inserting photos into the blog using a 7 in. tablet is testing my patience unnecessarily. I am on holiday, after all.

bamboo charcoal, bamboo museumThe bamboo museum in Damyang is short walk from the bus station and a very long walk from the bamboo forest. From Gwangju, a good base to visit Damyang, take local bus 311 from outside the Gwangju bus terminal. Where else might you see a bamboo charcoal dividing wall?

Bamboo on the Internet for April 2014 – my picks

bamboo vases

  • Made with a bamboo frame, WakkaWater is a proposed solution for water shortages in Ethiopia. These giant ‘bamboo vases’ are easily constructed with local materials and can collect nearly 100 litres (over 25 gallons) of potable water in a day.
  • Election time in Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa, India provides a welcome boost to income for large numbers of people. Thousands of bamboo poles are needed to string party flags and banners, as well as frames and stands for campaigning. I wonder happens to all the bamboo after the election?

bamboo fishtrap

  • The Patwari family in the Narail district of Bangladesh make bamboo fish traps of a design so old that no-one remembers how it came about. Bamboo is cut into the thin strips to make the traps. The family can make 2 or 3 fish traps a day.
  • In the US? You could help support the red panda’s at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo with “I’m Not a Raccoon” Red Saison ale. The 6% alcohol traditional Belgian farmhouse ale is brewed with the main elements of the red panda diet – bamboo and mulberry leaves. DryBrew is donating a percentage of profits to the zoo’s Red Panda Wish List Fund

bamboo chopsticks

  • Malaysian artist ‘Red’ Hong Si created a portrait of Jackie Chan using 64,000 bamboo chopsticks. Read why on her blog. There is also a short video of her and Mr Chan himself in a chopstick duel.
  • An Irish explorer and his Vietnamese crew member were reunited 21 years after crossing the Pacific Ocean on a bamboo raft. Great looking craft. The book about the voyage, The China Voyage: Across The Pacific By Bamboo Raft was published in 1996 and the Vietnamese translation was released this month. You can learn more about the vessel here.

ibamboo

  • More lovely bamboo accessories for ifolk. No electricity required for this portable speaker. The natural acoustics of the bamboo amplifies the sound. iBamboo portable speakers are available on Amazon, but not if you’re in Australia.

mangrovepathway

  • Sabang (Philippines), is probably most famous for it’s underground river. If you stay around longer than a day tour, you may see the bamboo walkway through the mangroves that leads to a bird watching area and trails to the mountainside forest.

sims3

 

  • And finally, for fans of strategic life simulation video games, the Sims 3 bamboo bedroom set. I marked it as ‘must have.’