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Bamboo on the Internet for February, 2015

The Georgio Armani Privé Paris Haute Couture collection spring/summer 2015 features bamboo motifs. There is a short video clip here.

I haven’t had the opportunity to see ‘The Tale of The Princess Kaguya’ yet. There are lots of very good reviews (and I haven’t seen anything from Studio Ghibli I didn’t like).

placematjpg placematsThese lovely looking bamboo placemats average 4 and half star reviews on Amazon. Easy to clean and stain resistant, they say. What more could you want in a placemat?

CompositeBikeMaterials to compliment bamboo for bikes: A UK-based bicycle designer and manufacturer has fused flax with bamboo to produce a composite material that is as strong or stronger than carbon, aluminium or steel bike frames.  And the frame weighs in at just 3.3 kg. More interesting details here.

WoodPuckBamboo Qi wireless charger. It looks gorgeous. I want one. Amazon customer reviews are very favorable. You can read a Tech Aeris here.

To finish off this month of Bamboo on the Internet I leave you with a lovely way to while away a half hour: The Intricate Process Of Making Arrows From Bamboo.

Modified Boucherie preservation treatment for bamboo

The Boucherie method or process for treating bamboo poles looks like a complex method at first blush. With a little thought, however, it can be a simple and straightforward way to protect bamboo from insect infestation and greatly extend the life of bamboo poles.

boucherie systemSimple searches on the Boucherie method commonly turn up treatment methods calling for an air compressor. But we don’t all have air compressors in our sheds. Also, after spending a day along side the innovative Lance of Bonza Bamboo, I have learnt that the initial set up of a Boucherie treatment process with an air compressor can be fraught with unexpected glitches compared with a simple gravity fed system. This post describes a simple modified Boucherie treatment developed by Lance using gravity and readily available garden and plumbing fittings.

Firstly, decide on the preservation liquid you want to use to replace the sap in the bamboo with. Lance uses an easily dissolvable form of borate (disodium octaborate pentahydrate). You might like to experiment with the Freemite product that was demonstrated in at Byron Bamboo last month.

20150206_114306_compressed_againSecondly, construct a manifold that has a garden hose fitting at one end and cuff that slides over the bamboo at the other end. The manifold needs to have a small release value (like a bicycle valve) incorporated in the design to release pressure . (Alternatively, you can probably buy a customisable manifold from Lance for about a hundred bucks. Contact Bonza Bamboo here.)

bamboo, boucherie methodThirdly, set up a drum, with a garden hose attached to it, at height. The drum will hold your chosen preservation fluid. The height will dictate the pressure you can achieve, and thus the time it takes to displace the sap. Janssen, in his book Building with Bamboo: a handbook, (on eBay) suggests that a head height of 4-6 metres is adequate to get the preservation liquid flowing. Lance got about 6 ½ psi at a head height of about 5.5 metres. (This happens to be the reachable height from a ladder in the loft of his shed).

When this is all ready to go, cut the bamboo you wish to preserve. Fresh is best. Attach the hose from the drum to the manifold and attach the manifold to the bamboo. Then wait. Yes, it’s slow, but you can walk away from it without fear of blow-outs, poles blowing over in the wind, or anything else going awry. The system is easily expandable to treat up to 10 poles from the one raised drum.

On the day I followed Lance around his shed, it took about five hours to treat a four-year old, 4 metre length of B. oldhamii with a diameter of about 95 mm.

Bamboo on the Internet for January, 2015

A light month of things bamboo on the internet that got my attention, but here goes:

  • Firefighters_compressedNinja firefighters? Firefighters on a stick? Only in Japan: firefighters in Tokyo displaying their prowess on top of 6 metre bamboo poles.
  • BambooBikeIf you needed another reason to get a bamboo bicycle, this might be it: A bamboo bike that can recharge your mobile devices. It can run your on-board navigation system, and charge your smartphone, and one other device. Oh, they also come with a bluetooth option.
  • Or how about bamboo grips for cameras? They are available for a range of popular digital cameras. Why? “improved ergonomics, increased protection, and a unique look.”
  • ModernTwist_compressedModern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art is an exhibition exploring the innovative shape bamboo art has taken since the mid-20th century. The exhibition is on in Florida until April 25 (2015), if you happen to be near by.
  • Taiwanese newspaper, The China Post, posted an article about bamboo artist Wang Wen-Chih and his most recent Woodford Folk Festival project. The 2013-14 installation at Woodford, Woven Sky, received such a positive response that he returned this year with some childhood friends from his hometown in Taiwan to construct Woven Cloud. He was assisted by 40 local volunteers. Cave Urban have some great images posted.

Treating Bamboo

bamboo borer beetleLast weekend Byron Bamboo and the Bamboo Society of Australia hosted a bamboo treatment workshop. Bamboo is fine strong material for construction but does need some kind of treatment to protect the timber against insect damage and infestation.

The two most common treatments are probably solutions of borax and copper sulfate. Both copper sulfate and borax are available on eBay. The workshop, however, focused primarily on the Indonesian product Freemite. Freemite is an organic pesticide and termite treatment. It contains neem, borax, chilli, camphor, and a number of other plant extracts. The product developer, Theirry, gave a lengthy presentation about the product and how his team use it in Bali to treat bamboo poles on a large scale. Solution left over after bamboo treatment is also used as insect spray and insecticide in the home and garden.

bamboo boucherie

Setting up for the Boucherie method

At the workshop it became clear that here in Australia the choice of borax or copper sulfate varied. Participants seemed to agree though that the simplest method of infusion was by transpiration. Little equipment is needed, just a bucket really. Freshly cut bamboo is placed upright in a bucket of the chosen solution and the natural actions of nature replace the sap with the treatment solution. Another method is the Boucherie method, where the sap in the bamboo is replaced by pressure. While not too complex, a special set up is needed.

transpiration method bambooIn Bali, the Freemite crew treat bamboo poles by submersing them in long, narrow concrete tanks filled with the Freemite solution. No experimentation seems to have been done there with the simple transpiration method. Perhaps because of the industrial scale of the operations in Bali. Some BSA members undertook to experiment with Freemite using the transpiration method. The resulting treated poles will be tested at the University of Technology, Sydney to establish how effective the transpiration method is using Freemite. Hopefully I’ll be able to share the results here in due course.

Bamboo on the Internet for December, 2014 – my picks

bamboo tripod, lock the gate, gloucester

On site at Lock the Gate, Gloucester

Bamboo poles are a very handy tool for practical folk needing a structure that is fast to erect. In Mumbai, India, street hawkers outside the railway station are using bamboo to circumvent restrictive by-laws. It is illegal for hawkers to sell their wares directly on the pavement as it hampers the flow of the 65,000 commuters that pass each day. Instead, bamboo structures are erected to get the wares off the pavement and facilitate a fast getaway, should one be needed.

On the other side of the world, in Gloucester, NSW, Australia, bamboo tripods are used to created instant gate blockades. The beautiful and rich agricultural lands around Gloucester are under threat from a fracking project. The tripods are fast to erect but difficult for police to remove once a protester is installed.

More practical (?) uses for bamboo: Miranda Kerr has an exfoliating face scrub made with bamboo particles.

pork and bamboo shoots, recipeRecipe for Pork and Fresh Bamboo Shoots, from the Northeast of India. Simple and wholesome – if you like your chilli hot. The raja mirchi called for in this recipe is a hybrid chilli considered one of the worlds hottest.

Also this month, and nothing to do with the internet, Life with Bamboo is on the move. I’m on the road, somewhere in Australia, in a small silver van. Bamboo farms may be visited. Bamboo events shall be attended. The next event is a Freemite Bamboo Treatment Workshop on 17 January  2014 near Byron Bay. Details and the registration form are here.

Bamboo for carbon sequestration

report coverINBAR recently released another report about bamboo and climate change. The report promotes the potential of bamboo as a core resource to mitigate the effects of climate change. Drawing on a range of INBAR projects and initiatives, the report suggests three main ways bamboo can mitigate climate change: bamboo as a carbon sink; durable bamboo products; and, bamboo-based biofuel and bioenergy. The report is rather broad-based and its purpose as a policy document precludes any in-depth analysis. No mention is made of bamboo phytoliths and their role in climate change mitigation.

bamboo plant opalAs you will recall from a previous post, phytoliths, or plant opal, are microscopic siliceous bodies which occur in living plants. Work is currently underway in Australia and China to investigate opportunities to sequester carbon using phytolith-occluded carbon. Carbon dating has established that plant opals and the carbon stored within them, are highly resistant to decomposition and will stay in the soil for thousands of year, remaining stable even after volcanic explosions, forest fires and earthquakes.

Not all phytoliths have the capacity to store significant amounts of carbon though. A current project at Southern Cross University is investigating the range of agricultural and grass crops, including bamboo, that do have the capacity. The potential exists for reducing carbon emissions in the order of 1.5 billion tonnes a year simply by having farmers choose high-plant opal carbon yielding cultivars of crops they already grow.

bamboo, bamboo leaf, bamboo leaves, health, herbal tea, Hokkaido, Japan, tea

Sasa bamboo

The same holds true for bamboo. Careful selection of bamboo species can dramatically increase the sequestration of carbon within the phytoliths. Recent research in China looked into the phytolith content of the leaves of 75 species of bamboo. Sasa came out on top. But Sasa is not a major commercial species on the scale of say, Moso.

Another 2014 Chinese study looked at the potential for carbon sequestration in Moso forests. The study found that the carbon content of phytoliths is dependent upon the parent material underlying the soil in which the bamboo grows.

It’s astounding and timely research work. Solutions for climate change mitigation are right under our noses. Of course, here in Australia we have a government that insists that climate change is not real, so we don’t need to worry.


Everyday Bamboo – South Korea

Like Japan, bamboo in South Korea is firmly embedded in the local material culture. In this post I’m sharing a few everyday bamboo things I came across while wandering around southern parts of South Korea earlier this year.

bamboo gloves

EvrdyBamboo SK (7)Lightweight white cotton gloves have a thousand and one uses. These ones are bamboo though. They are intimidatingly pristine fresh out of the packet. Just the thing for protecting your hands against blisters from bamboo brooms.

bamboo saltSouth Korea is an especially great place for eating, (although maybe a little challenging for vegetarians). Snack foods abound. I found these roasted almonds with bamboo salt in the local supermarket. Very tasty. The same supermarket sold bamboo salt toothpaste.

Damyang is rightly famous for dining out, and is famed throughout South Korea for it bamboo dishes. As a major bamboo centre, Damyang also has plenty of shops specialising in just bamboo products. They smell fantastic.


bambooThe 4 hour bus trip from Busan to Gwangu, (to get to Damyang), is broken up with a stop at a standard highway roadhouse. There is lots of food, bathroom facilities, clothing stores and stalls selling useful things. One stall was like a mini hardware (my kinda shop). Amongst its impressive selection, it sold everything you’d need to harvest bamboo: like bamboo saws, bamboo knives, splitter, gloves… Just in case you’ve come out without yours.

Do you have a favourite everyday bamboo story?