Bamboo weaving is an art. Most people agree that bamboo is one of the world’s most useful plants, because you can build with it, weave with it, make paper, furniture, musical instruments, baskets, tableware, scaffolding, clothes and accessories with it, burn it as fuel and even eat it.
To weave bamboo, you first have to split it into thin strips. Watch a video (scroll down) called “Bamboo splitting and making strips for weaving” by a YouTube channel called JUNKAN WORKS.
Bamboo makes beautiful strong baskets and woven furniture but it needs a lot more pre-weaving preparation than willow. After you harvest and cure the bamboo poles, you have to slice up the inflexible stems into ever thinner strips that are bendy enough to be woven. In countries where bamboo is native, especially in Asia, craftspeople have perfected tools and techniques to make this process easier and quicker.
Watch a skilled weaver make a bamboo tray. These trays are useful for draining, drying, storage and carrying.
If you live in the right climate and have a garden, you can grow your own bamboo.
Bamboo comes from all over the world except Europe. It’s native to South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. And yes, North America also has three native species of bamboos! Australia has 3 or possibly 4 native bamboos, though they only like living in the hot climates up north.
Bamboos are fast-growing members of the Grass family. Their species are native to a wide range of climates from hot tropical through to warm temperate and even cool climates. The plants love water and sunshine. They will grow in most soil types, from heavy clay-based soil to sand. It is important to ‘feed’ the bamboo on-top of the soil with a good thick mulch layer and regular fertilizing. Most bamboos prefer well-drained soil, which means they don’t like growing in swampy areas.
Be careful to choose clumping varieties rather than the rather invasive running varieties. One of the most useful bamboos for weaving is called Gracilis, or Slender Weaver (Bambusa textilis var gracilis). It’s also useful as a screening plant as it grows quickly along narrow spaces to make a living fence, giving you privacy from your neighbors.
At the Craftsteading Store, from time to time we stock handmade woven bamboo items such as trays and sieves and sushi boats. If you don’t see them in stock check back late or write to us.