Bamboo : Eternal and Ever-Changing The Big Bambu Sculpture Installation in Venice

Big Bambu overlooking the Canal in Venice

Bamboo can evoke a lot of things to a lot of people. In the case of twins, Doug and Mike Starn, they have made Bamboo the centerpiece to illustrate their ideas about change and constancy.
The Big Bambu is a sculpture project by American artists Mike and Doug Starn and part of the Venice Biennial Art Exhibition. The central aspect of the sculpture in Venice is a 50′ tall hollow tower of bamboo, with a trail spiraling up to the top reaching a 20′ wide roof top lounge.
As Big Bambú is about the continual evolution of living things, in addition to 2,000 fresh poles harvested from a farm in France, Doug and Mike have cut several of the Fragments out of the Metropolitan (last year in New York) installation. The Starns: “We are grafting a new Big Bambú and using 1,000 poles from the Met as stem cells, the Venice piece will still be the Metropolitan piece but also a new one, Big Bambú is always growing and changing and becoming something new– as we all are.”

“It is a temporary structure in a sense, but it is a sculpture—not a static sculpture, it’s an organism that we are just a part of—helping it to move along,” said Mike Starn. “We will be constructing a slice of seascape, like our photographs, a cutaway view of a wave continuously in motion—just as our growth and change remains invariable, it is constant and unchanged.”

A quote from Doug and Mike Starn about an earlier exhibition:

…Vision doesn’t work like a camera, the mind is an interpreter of constantly fed information. Not just from your eyes, but also from all of your sensory inputs simultaneously, these are your interfaces to the world. Your mind decodes and understands the information based on a lifetime of constructions, memories, desires and learning…it is through all that that we ‘see’…”

If you want to arrange your own Bambboo sculpture in your garden , Contact Bamboo Bob for poles:
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All you need is Bamboo (and Water): Japanese woman survives the Himalayas

KATHMANDU (AFP) – A Japanese woman who was missing for 12 days in the Himalayan mountains of Nepal told on Friday how she survived by eating bamboo shoots and drinking water.
Makiko Iwafuchi, 49, left her hotel on May 25 to trek to a nearby lake in Gosaikunda, a religious site for Hindus located at an altitude of 4,380 metres (14,370 feet).
But she lost her way in a forest and was only saved when a group of pilgrims finally found her by accident.
Makiko Iwanfuchi, survivor

“The trail seemed pretty clear and I thought I would not get lost. I was confused and took the wrong trail,” Iwafuchi, an experienced trekker, told reporters in Kathmandu.
“For two days, I didn’t move. (I) stayed in a small cave. I thought about the food I would like to eat when I got back,” she recalled. “I ate leaves, bamboo shoots and drank a lot of water.”
Iwafuchi, a former jewellery trader who is now a full-time traveller, appeared exhausted and had minor injuries to her feet, but otherwise suffered no serious effects from her ordeal.
“When I heard the pilgrims, I felt it was like a miracle. I thanked God for saving me,” she said. “Now on I won’t trek alone. I’ve learned a lesson from this experience.”
Nepal hosts thousands of trekkers and mountaineers annually. The country has eight of the world’s 14 peaks over 8,000 metres, including the highest, Mount Everest, at 8,848 metres.
(News story stolen from Yahoo News)

In the words of, David Fairchild, “The best way to control Bamboo is to eat it”.

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Bamboo Helps the Environment by Storing Carbon

Bamboo Forrest in the mists

Due to its fast growth rate, bamboo has long been supposed to be a plant with a high (carbon) sequestration capability, and the research to date indeed confirms that bamboo outperforms fast growing trees in its rate of carbon accumulation. Bamboo’s ability to provide global environmental services through carbon sequestration is also now receiving high levels of interest, and is the subject of research by The International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR). A report entitled Bamboo and Climate Change Mitigation discusses the role of bamboo in carbon sequestration and how to optimize this dynamic concept of absorbing the element carbon through sustainable management and harvesting practices.

Large diameter bamboo forrest in Asia

Within the range of options available to mitigate high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, forests and forestry practices have received a lot of attention. While global deforestation is one of the most important sources of carbon emissions, it is thought to be relatively easy to halt compared with other options. Through forestry practices including the expansion of forest area and improvements in forest management, forests can act as important carbon sinks. Although botanically bamboo is a woody grass and not a tree, bamboo forests have comparable features to other types of forest regarding their role in the carbon cycle. They sequester carbon through photosynthesis, and lock carbon in the fiber of the bamboo and in the soil where it grows. However, there are also important differences between bamboo forests and other forests. Bamboo has a rapid rate of early growth and high annual re-growth when managed. The lifecycle of individual bamboo culms (between 5-10 years) is comparatively short. The products derived from bamboo are commonly used in lower durability applications than those from timber forests.

The report Bamboo and Climate Change Mitigation: a comparative analysis of carbon sequestration by Lou Yiping, et al. is available from the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to reducing poverty, conserving the environment and creating fairer trade using bamboo and rattan.

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Earth Day and Bamboo Sustainability

Earth Day and Bamboo

In the words of the immortal poet e.e. Cummings “spring has sprung” and as the weather warms up it in the Northeast it becomes natural to notice our environment recovering from winters fierce grip. Last Friday was Earth Day, a reminder about the importance of environmental protection and sustainability. Bamboo Bob is often peppered with questions regarding Bamboo’s sustainability. Our friends want to know “How is Bamboo sustainable and what does this means to the planet and its inhabitants?”
human hands hold the earth with respect in this lovely watercolor

First, Bamboo is not a tree—it’s a grass, and it grows like one. Many species of bamboo can grow two feet or more a day. When it’s harvested, it need not be replanted, because it will grow a new shoot from its extensive root system. So bamboo renews itself readily, unlike hardwood trees, which, once cut, are gone forever. Bamboo is an endlessly renewable resource. Farmed bamboo stabilizes the earth with its roots, preventing erosion. It takes in greenhouse gasses and produces oxygen (perhaps 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees).
By planting bamboo we enhance our local environment with carbon absorbing greenery, providing habitat for birds and animals and maybe even screening the neon flamingo birds some artfully displayed next door. As Lady Bird Johnson would say “You can plant a tree or a shrub”. Make it a bamboo plant this spring and respect Earth Day for your family and neighbors.

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Bamboo Water Bottle

Bamboo Bottle: A Reusable Bottle Made From Bamboo and Glass

Bamboo Bottle Company launched a bamboo reusable bottle. The 17-oz. “Original” bamboo bottle is BPA-free and features environmentally friendly bamboo and glass construction with a stylish and functional design.
Because of the species’ stability, hardness and strength, the bottles are made from Phyllostachys Pubescens bamboo (also known as Moso and Mau Tzu). The bamboo is grown and harvested in temperate conditions that allow it to grow to its maximum potential – 90 feet in 9 months. The harvesting method is by hand selection and hand cutting of the bamboo. This allows maturing and flowering strands to remain flourishing, and minimizes the impact on ground soil since no heavy machinery is used. Once cut, the bamboo will continue to grow. This selective cutting process leaves the soil and land in its best possible state. The bamboo outer acts as a natural insulator for hot or cold beverages while protecting the glass interior during activities and accidental drops.

The Bamboo Bottle Company uses an easily removable, dishwasher-safe, 60-percent recycled, durable glass interior, produced from completely natural substances and able to withstand active lifestyles. Unlike plastics and metals that can leach chemicals, the Bamboo Bottle Company’s BPA-free glass interior keeps liquids safe, clean tasting and insulatedÑhot or cold. The stylish, patent-pending design allows for easy cleanup.

The cap, bottom and nut are dishwasher-safe, FDA food-grade approved, and made from BPA-free plastic that can be easily recycled and turned into other products. Both the Type II (HDPE) and Type IV (LDPE) can be turned into your local recycling center.

“We wanted to make a clean, great looking bottle you could drink hot or cold beverages from,” said senior vice president Patrick Carland. “Clean to us meant the liquid had to taste great when drinking from the bottle, and the product had to respect the environment as much as possible. Bamboo and glass allow us to accomplish that goal. We hope to minimize our impact on the environment and increase reusable bottle awareness with the Bamboo Bottle Company.”

For more info Contact

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Bamboo Fly Rods Constructed by Pittsburgh Group

making bamboo fly rods
Ron Bennett creating masterpieces – photo by Michael Henninger/Post-Gazette

In his workshop on the Carnegie Mellon University campus in Oakland, Ron Bennett of O’Hara, PA. carefully splits a bamboo cane into narrow strips. After flattening protrusions along the stock, he skillfully planes six strips into three 60 degree angles. The strips are nested together and undergo a finishing process, ultimately producing a hexagonal fly rod.

Bamboo fly rod building is a highly detailed and laborious process, requiring 40 to 100 hours. It’s also a passion, a process Bennett has learned to perfect and love.

“It’s a way of not only fishing in my mind, but dreaming about it while I work,” he said. “It keeps me in touch with nature down here among all this hard steel and all the tools, and that’s always been very important to me.”

Bennett, Hosack, and Zietak are members of a small cadre of Pittsburgh-based bamboo fly rod builders. Bennett likens their passion for the craft to membership in a cult, but without the religious connotations. The low number of craftsmen may be due to some 150 steps involved in building a rod.

“You have to be pretty dedicated,” said Hosack. “It’s very consuming.”

Intense concentration is required as each step builds on the previous procedure. One small mistake can interrupt the entire process.

“It allows me to totally immerse myself into the work,” said Bennett. “It’s meditation for me.”

Photo stolen from Dunsmuir Rod Company,
Knowing the end use, such as what type of fish will be caught and the conditions in which it will be used, is important. The ability to adjust the flexibility, weight and sensitivity of the taper gives builders the freedom to create a wide range of specialized rods according to specific needs.

Various techniques can be used in building fly rods. Bennett and Hosack prefer the labor-intensive process of hand-splitting the bamboo culms with a tool called a froe, then planing it by hand. Zietack uses some automation — after the cane is split, one machine cuts the angles and another planes the strips, cutting both sides simultaneously.

“It’s an idiot-proof way to cut strips,” said Zietak. “The key is to make four, five or six repetitive strips so they glue together perfectly.”

Whether a rod is made of four, five or six strips, it should appear as one piece. Zietak said machines save time, but effort is still required to ensure that each strip is perfectly flat.

“You kind of rob Peter to pay Paul with the time,” he said.

Zietak is among a few fly rod builders who make four-sided rods, or quads. Quads consist of two 45 degree angles and one 90 angle, as opposed to the 60 degree angles of six-sided, or hex, rods. Zietak said quads typically come back to center quicker, ensuring that the rod, line and leader unload more precisely in the direction of the previous forward cast. This gives the quads a different feel than hex rods. Ultimately, preference depends on individual casting rhythms, expertise and taste.

The means to the end may differ, but Bennett, Hosack and Zietak agree on using high-quality Tonkin cane imported from the Guangning province of China. The perfect mix of wind, rain and good soil make the cane strong and flexible, which is reflected in the final product.

“Bamboo fly rods are really fun to cast,” said Hosack. “They feel good, they handle the lines well, weight is not a problem, and it’s a natural material.”

Nevertheless, Bennett notes that bamboo rods are not ideal for long-distance casting and don’t have the strength and resiliency of graphite. But, he said, that’s not the point.

“The difference is comparing a Ford to a Mercedes. They both drive really well, both do the job they were designed for, but somehow the Mercedes is just nicer,” he said. “You’re holding something in your hand that someone spent 40, 80 or 100 hours stroking and modeling into form. That alone is exciting.

This article was taken from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
written by Shannon M. Nass
First published on February 20, 2011

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How Cool is Black Bamboo?

Poetry and a painterly vision reside in the secrecy of the black bamboo.

picture of exotic black bamboo stalks

Black Bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra), it’s exotic, mysterious and inspiring. It is cool and health inducing.

Long heralded in Chinese medicine, the leaf of the black bamboo is used as a fever reducer and to treat head and chest colds. The juice of the stem can serve as a fever reducer, a cough suppressant, expectorant and can help fight bronchial infections. Black bamboo roots are also used to treat anxiety, fever and sleeping issues.

It’s gorgeous and it can surround you in all it’s zen-like ecstasy if you let it. When Bamboo Bob first showed this multi dimensional plant agent to me in his Morristown garden, it was a game-changer. I then knew there is more to this bamboo stuff than kitchen utensils and stationary.

Great in the shade and sun, “black” bamboo is native to China and can survive temperature to -4 F°. Black Bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra), which can be grown throughout most of the United States, starts out with green culm’s and turn ebony black within two years (Bob reminded me there are also a couple of tropical ” black” bamboo’s, see bambusa lako below).
tropical black bamboo
Bambusa Lako, a tropical “black” Bamboo

If you want to be surrounded with this wonderful plant, contact Bob at Visit “Bamboo Bob” Foley

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Bamboo Skateboards are taking over! And Bamboosk8 is leading the pack.

“Bamboo is the only way to fly” says young skateboarder Jo Jo Whalen.
And fly they do. Look below at Logan Marshall flyin’ in his Bamboosk8.
picture of young skateboarder flying around a turn

Bamboo skateboards are taking over as the “go to material for America’s robust skateboard industry. Maple laminates are being replaced as the source material with the stronger and more flexible bamboo for the “deck” or platform on modern, competitive skateboards.

It’s strong and sustainable. quotes “according to the Science Channel (January 2008, Episode 7 – “Invention Nation”), skateboarding has replaced flooring as the #1 contributor to deforestation of maple trees in North America”. Bamboosk8 is a recent (2007) start up company in the skateboard industry, who’s focus has been the development of bamboo material. Owner and President Geoff Koboldt says “BambooSK8 is positioned in an important period of skateboard history with the realization that being greenis not an option-it’s a necessity”

Weather update…
Despite the un-Spring like weather Bamboo Bob is planting now. For more information regarding the cultivation of Bamboo see:
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Mushroom and Bamboo Shoot Stir Fry

What do you want to eat? Well, it’s complicated. (Like everything else these days.) While we can be excited by the sound of the latest asian fusion cuisine, the pending meal must be palatable. And it must be nutritious. Health is the preventive issue of our time. While exercise can be illusive, the Sixties’ mantra “You are what you eat” is a simplistic thought but strategically sound. We can build on good food, knowing it contains our favorite sustainable and delicious resource, bamboo.

Our offering today is a wonderful Stir-fried Mushrooms and Bamboo Shoots that satisfies our belly, imagination and our mission toward eating as a process of who we are to become.
A primary note: Fresh is always a better choice when we have the option. Prepared foods contain abhorrent amounts of salt and

Shopping list and Ingredients:

1 block firm tofu
8 – 10 Chinese dried Mushrooms (also called black mushrooms)
1 8-ounce can bamboo shoots
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 4 teaspoons water
4 tablespoons oil for stir-frying, or as needed
Asian sesame oil to taste, optional


Drain the tofu and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Soften the dried mushrooms by soaking in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. Squeeze out any excess water and slice. If desired, strain and reserve a bit of the mushroom soaking water to add to the sauce. (Note: If you are doing this, adjust the amount of chicken broth so that you have 1/2 cup total. If you like, you can substitute mushroom soaking liquid for all the chicken broth).

Rinse the bamboo shoots under warm running water to remove any “tinny” taste. Drain thoroughly.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the chicken broth, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Set aside. In another small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Set aside.

Heat the wok and add 2 tablespoons oil, drizzling it around the sides of the wok. When the oil is hot, add the bean curd cubes. Stir-fry until browned. Remove the bean curd from the wok.

Add 2 tablespoons oil to the wok. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, and stir-fry until aromatic. Add the dried mushrooms and the bamboo shoots. Stir-fry for 1 minute.

This recipe was brazenly stolen from, chinese food selection

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“Does bamboo soak up water faster than cotton?”

There is nothing like a visual answer to a quantitative question.
During a recent trip to Los Angeles, a bamboo inquisitor pondered “Does bamboo soak up water faster than cotton?”

Two white fabric loops (Bamboo on left, cotton on right) were immersed into a vat of blue-dyed water. Wow!

You can acquire highly absorbent bamboo clothing at:

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