Bamboo as the problem, and the solution
In much of the United States bamboo has become quite a nuisance, spreading out beyond the suburban gardens it was planted in. In some cases it has taken over entire neighborhoods, dominating the ecosystem. Oddly enough, despite its abundance in many areas, and its proven usefulness as a building it is often left untouched.
Encountering many stands of bamboo in my own neighborhood I wanted to explore its useful properties while also culling the expanding groves. A quick search online will find many projects that utilize bamboo as a craft material but many of them use trivial amounts of plant material doing little to slow its spread. It then occurred to me to use it as a furniture material, but with no ready means of joining the pieces other than binding them with rope, I thought to capture them in a frame of oak. The design I came up with took advantage of the great strength of bamboo as the weight bearing material of the seat, while using oak to form the structure.
After several months of living with this piece I am very pleased with the final outcome of the bench. It has clean lines, utilized a considerable amount of bamboo (visibly thinning the patch it came from), and is a strong, comfortable seat for two. The other aspect I've grown to appreciate is the sense of yin and yang between the native wood material and the invasive bamboo, as well as between the bamboo and the stark contrast created by the black milk paint.
I have resisted adding a blog to the sea of existing woodworking and art related blogs out there, but ultimately I wanted an outlet to share project updates and some bits of wisdom I would have benefited from when starting my own career. The other void I hope to fill is the blank space of woodworking philosophy in the blog world. Many makers and artists you speak with voice the same motivations and concerns in regards to the act of producing objects but few are voicing those opinions publicly. Hopefully, this blog can become a venue for people to see into the rewards and pitfalls of being a woodworker professionally, at least through my specific lens.
Currently, I live in Chapel Hill, NC where I work as a woodturner and furniture maker. My path to this point has not exactly been as planned, but has had many unexpected rewards. Prior to building furniture I worked as a boatwright in Philadelphia, apprenticed to a blacksmith in South Africa and worked restoring houses in Pittsburgh. Looking back I really appreciate these varied experiences and feel many of them are reflected in my current work. Going forward it's hard to say what specific subset of craft I will finally settle on but I suspect it will continue to be a mixture of my varied skills.
My hope is for this blog to become a resource for others interested in pursuing woodworking as a career, and provide insight for those with a casual interest in craft. I would love feedback, and to hear from others going down the same path. Leave a comment or reach out to me on the contact page of my website.