Bamboo has been appreciated for its natural beauty, versatility, and utility throughout history. In places where it grows in abundance, such as Japan, it has been used for centuries in an almost endless number of ways. It can be used for its aesthetics as décor, and it can be used in a number of other ways. Eleven ways to use bamboo is only a small snapshot of a much larger picture. However, a brief list of bamboo’s usefulness is a good place to start.
Bamboo flutes are found in many parts of the world. Some of them have the mouthpiece on the side like modern flutes, whereas others have mouthpieces on the ends like a clarinet. They are almost always decorated with carving and paint.
Marimbas are wooden xylophones. Bamboo is wood. There are two kinds of bamboo marimbas. One is made of a row of full sections of bamboo lying on their sides. The other is a row of bamboo pieces that are a result of cutting each bamboo-segment in cross-sections; that is, sections of the bamboo are cut laterally across the segment, cutting it in half. The halves are face down. Like flutes, they are commonly decorated with carvings and paint and can be found in many countries around the world.
Also in the marimba group is an instrument made of one segment of bamboo, with both ends closed and a number of slits carved out. The rubber material is wrapped around it, or it can sit on a rubber stand. Using the same kind of mallet used for marimbas, it makes a beautiful tone when hit.
Panpipes are usually made of bamboo that is small in diameter. Two rows of about six “pipes,” or segments of bamboo, are line up. The ends are closed, and the tops are open and cut diagonally. A player blows through the tops of the “pipes,” making a mysterious native sound. Beautiful and exciting music is made using the panpipe.
One type of drum made of bamboo is two-sided or has two ends. A piece of bamboo, large in diameter and about two segments long, with both ends cut off, is covered on both ends with animal skin or strong paper. Mallets similar to those used to play marimbas are used, but hands alone are often used.
This is an instrument from the outback in Australia. Legend has it the Aborigines believed the sound made by the didgeridoo mimicked the sound the U.F.O.s made when they visited. They played the didgeridoo to welcome their visitors. They are made by hollowing out a long piece of bamboo (about three feet long) with a medium-sized diameter. After some beeswax is fixed around the top end, it is ready to be played.
About five or six hollowed (ends cut off) segments of bamboo hang while a rock hung in the middle bumps up against the pieces that are blowing in the wind. A natural woody sound is a result. Varying sizes are used.
One end of a segment of bamboo remains intact while the other end is removed. Beads are inserted in the interior of the segment of bamboo, and the removed end piece is reattached. Nails are driven into the sides of the bamboo at random positions. The sound of rain is made when the bamboo piece is flipped upside down as the beads hit the nails inside.
A piece of bamboo, small in diameter (actually, the size of a finger), is cut in the shape of a ring. Carvings and paint are used to decorate it.
Similar to how one makes a ring of bamboo, beads can also be created from pieces of bamboo. Bamboo with very small diameters makes the best beads. They can be long segments or short pieces. And, like rings, carvings and paint can be used for décor.
Using a segment of bamboo with a medium-sized diameter, cut a cross-section of the piece. This will result in two half pieces, exactly like the keys for one of the marimba styles. Line the inside with velvet or felt, and attach the pieces with hinges. Make feet for the bottom by gluing two rows bamboo that is thin in diameter to the underside of the jewelry box.
The secret of the kaleidoscope is the mirrors inside. Three long (as long as one segment of bamboo) and narrow pieces of mirror are set inside a segment of bamboo with a medium-sized diameter. When the mirrors are inside the bamboo, they form a triangle.
Take a piece of bamboo just a bit larger in diameter than the kaleidoscope’s shaft and cut it to a length of about three inches. Glue a piece of circular glass at one end of the short piece. Fill the inside with beads. Close the inside by inserting a smaller circular glass piece inside the short piece. Slide it on, over the shaft. Hammer some short nails in the shorter piece. The nails should go in just enough to hit up against the shaft as the shorter piece turns. Finally, glue another circular piece of glass on the other end.
These are eleven ways to use bamboo. Some are more complicated to make than others. Anyone of these makes a great gift. For people looking for a hobby, bamboo may be the perfect medium. Its versatility, beauty, and utility are hard to beat.