The Bamboo Pole as Satellite

In what way are satellites like bamboo poles? The delivery is usually more expensive than the product.

Was reading an article in the Economist. A satellite may only costs about 2 to 3 million to make, but at over 20 million to deliver. Logistics is pricey. Bamboo poles are nearly as harsh as this, but there is some correlation. I keep the price of my poles as reasonable as possible, but the cost of shipping is hard to get around. Poles are big and bulky, two things that get charged extra. Shipping really only gets cost only get down if the quantity is large. Constant struggle, but we’re always trying to get shipping costs low.

So that it’s as unlike a satellite as possible.

Posted by Peter James on December 03, 2009. Continue Reading

Folding Bamboo Pole Structure

Checking out some bamboo structures in Delhi later today, but this morning saw this interesting news item about a pole-based disaster house. Bamboo poles are great for this kind of thing.

It has that origami vibe, very cool.

Posted by Peter James on November 25, 2009. Continue Reading

A comprehensive Gump-like list of uses for Bamboo Poles

The Taiwan government has a surprisingly well written and informative article about bamboo on their website, including a pretty exhaustive list of uses for bamboo poles and some nice photos.

My favorite is the stroller, made from poles (poller?):

I like the list. I have one in my brain but still need to get it memorized, since when I tell people I’m in the pole business the second question they ask me (after “Excuse me?” ) is “What do people use bamboo for?”

The short answer is, of course, what do people NOT use bamboo for?

The long answer is something like their website.

Their Gump-like list as follows: writing brushes, brush racks, rolling paper curtains, bamboo flutes, reed pipes, clappers, castanets, mallets, dragonfly, squirt guns, kites, humming top, ear picks, back scratchers, pigeon bells, mahjong tiles, hats, carrying poles, cattle poles, cattle mouth bits, various baskets, rice sifters, tea picking baskets, drying baskets, dustpans, scoops, banana baskets, rice seedling wrappers, watering buckets, rakes, fishing rods, fish traps, fish cages, fish fingerling creels, ladders, fans, brooms, charcoal baskets, steamers, strainers, rice strainers, rice ladles, chopsticks, toothpicks, forks, tea trays, bamboo beds, tables, chairs, cupboards, stools, sedan chairs, children’s stools, cradles, spirit money baskets, gift baskets, betel nut baskets, rice noodle baskets, firecracker baskets, matchmaker baskets, “double happiness” rice sieves, folding fans, surname lanterns, and…“livestock prosperity” lanterns.


Posted by Peter James on November 22, 2009. Continue Reading

Bamboo Packing

This was a long time coming.

In this interesting article, one of many which have been making the rounds, Dell computers will be using packing material made from bamboo. How it’s going to look and how it’s processed, it doesn’t say, but there is good possibilities using bamboo waste to make some kind of packing material. Bamboo poles don’t have so much waste, but processing bamboo chopsticks, floor, etc., does. Usually it’s burnt to power the factory, but using it for this kind of processing would be great.

I, for one, welcome our new bamboo packing overlords.

Posted by Peter James on November 22, 2009. Continue Reading

Bamboo Poles in the Snow

While the staff back in the US handles the office and warehouse, keeping the bamboo poles moving, I’m at the factory in China again. This week we’ve had something we don’t get every year in bamboo jungle: snow!

Cold weather bamboo— mao / moso and others — is good for its fibers. The change of seasons makes it harder, even with thinner walls. And a little snow doesn’t hurt, but too much will. This is because when it snows on bamboo, it settles on the leaves and brings the poles down; an entire forest will be bending over. Bamboo, of course is very flexible.

Check out the photos.

For a few days, or a week, bamboo bending over isn’t much of a problem. However, too long, and the poles will start to snap near the base. A few years ago there was a huge bamboo shortage due to a protracted snow storm of several months.

Posted by Peter James on November 20, 2009. Continue Reading

Bamboo Scaffolding and The Men Who Climb Them

People who visit Asia, especially Hong Kong, are always amazed by the bamboo scaffolding. Good article today about it on the link below, including info about those who climb the scaffolding.

Each scaffolding structure is a testament to the strength and durability of bamboo.

Most of these are tonkin bamboo poles, and although the article says they worry about supply I think the supply is stable—these are the kind of poles prized by fishermen for making bamboo poles. The only really “supply” issue might be the price.

Posted by Peter James on November 18, 2009. Continue Reading

Bamboo Poles for Flutes

Our 1 inch and 1 3/8 inch poles have been very popular for making bamboo flutes. We select these poles based on their straightness, lack of taper, very little waist, non-protruding knot, and color. In our next shipment, available at the beginning of the year, we’ll be importing even more specialized bamboo. An additional QC check will be put for location of knots. Also of note, the poles will be less than 8’ long, so there will be significant savings in shipping. Both natural and black colors will be available.

Posted by Peter James on November 01, 2009. Continue Reading

Earnest Hemingway’s House of Bamboo

On a recent trip to Florida, went to the Hemingway house in Key West. They had the usual—writing studio, library, endless stories about Big Papa. They also had, in the garden, plenty of bamboo.

The bamboo was “piano bamboo”, as it’s called in Chinese, because of its green stripes on yellow background. This kind of bamboo is not used for processing since it’s not very abundant and the green accents on the yellow poles do not survive the treatment process. But it’s a very popular decorative bamboo, and fun to see in the house of Hemingway.

Also, it was a lot bigger than I ever saw in China. Very manly, but then again it was Hemingway’s house.

Posted by Peter James on October 26, 2009. Continue Reading

eco Buggy

A friend, Joerg Stamm, developed a bamboo car, the e-Buggy. For people who don’t have the energy for a bamboo bicycle. Powered by electric motors.

The only remaining frontier is a bamboo airplane, but I was reminded recently while reading a book on the Wright Brothers that early gliders and planes were made from bamboo.

Posted by Peter James on August 17, 2009. Continue Reading

Flowering Bamboo

“When the bamboo flowers” is an expression in Chinese that means, roughly translated, “When hell freezes over”.

Bamboo flowers very rarely, and when it does the whole grove dies, has to be dug up and replanted. It’s a weird phenomena, a whole section of a forest committing suicide. Nobody, not even botanists, know exactly why. I guess it’s just a psychological quirk.

Here’s some photos of flowering bamboo, attached. “Flowering”, you will notice, is more-or-less a technical word—it’s not pretty in a conventional sense. But then again, they’re dying.

Posted by Peter James on August 09, 2009. Continue Reading