For some time I lived on a coffee plantation on the slopes of a volcano called Mauna Loa. On the way to my home I had to pass several bamboo groves and I was finally compelled to the decision of using some of the poles in my artwork. Following several crude attempts to manipulate the bamboo into a sculpture, I decided it would be expeditious to do some research as to the accepted tools and techniques of working with this unique material.

   After having scoured the Hawaii State Library system and the local bookstores, I realized that there was very little technical information about how to work with bamboo. I found few references about established methods for creating a product of durable, artistic merit.

   In 1990 after continued research, this condition still remains largely true. Given this lack of information, I started to experiment with what was known about different species, harvesting and curing procedures, preservation processes, and utilized even those vague references to working procedures.After numerous attempts and failures, I began to establish an understanding of bamboo's unique working characteristics and limitations.

   I also experimented with the tools that were available in my sculpture studio, developing my own techniques in using bamboo as an art medium. Most of these tools were conventional power tools, and consequently, many times had to be used in an unorthodox fashion because of the unique physical characteristics of bamboo.

   With my architectural background, I also developed new joining methods which responded to the difficult requirements of enduring sculpture. Since having established my own working techniques, I have attended many workshops featuring artisans of bamboo using traditional tools and methodology, concluding that I can often perform the same operations in a fraction of the time with my own methods.

Artist using one of several methods of heat treatment to straighten, color, clean and harden raw bamboo material.

Woodworking handtools modified
to work with bamboo.

Precision operations on irregular materials require a lot of invention.

Power tools are especially useful for repetitive operations if set up correctly.

Large precision structures often require large set up jigs for certain operations.

I use a full scale layout drawing to guide me in the construction process of my artwork - given some artistic license of course...

The full scale layout also allows me to divide a large commission into sections that will go together later with a high degree of predictability (top portion of a 12 foot high by 8 foot wide wall sculpture).

Two Doors - a work in progress...


All photos copyrighted by Cal Hashimoto except where indicated.
Photos are not to be reproduced or copied in any form.

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