Domebuilding: Day One

January 13th, 2009

Cleaning bamboo

The bamboo I’m working with is an interesting local variety; some call it “Oregon Bamboo” but I have no idea what the latin name is.  I harvested a bunch of this years ago, using a Forest Service permit to remove non-native species from parks.  Unlike store-bought, kiln-dried bamboo, this stuff doesn’t split and remains fairly flexible.  I love working with it.  It has an interesting anatomical feature: each node is armored with a single flat-growing leaf that wraps almost the entire surface.  So I have to “shell” each node by twisting the leaf until it breaks off.  Somehow it reminds me of unwrapping fine cigars.  Also, the leaves of this bamboo are slightly itchy — unless you’re allergic, like my friend Chet, in which case they’re extremely itchy and will cause you to break out in hives.  So no leaves, please.

Because I left my pile of bamboo sitting outside for years in slightly damp conditions, a black must began growing on the uncovered ends, feeding on the natural waxy coating of the bamboo.  So before I can use the stuff, I have to wash it off with some Murphy’s Oil Soap and some bleach.

Before. After.

Cleans up nice, don’t it?

Unfortunately, it looks like I don’t have nearly enough of the stuff to finish my dome.  I have some other bamboo, but it’s all either too stiff or too brittle.  Thursday I’m headed to my local State Park with a bamboo-cutting permit, hoping to bag 100 more sticks without significantly ruining the landscape.

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