Bamboo with natural handle makes perfect calligraphy brushes

An artist at the University of Wisconsin needed some small diameter bamboo to use for calligraphy brushes.  

She wrote to say:  I teach art classes at UWLa Crosse in Wisconsin. Next semester I would like to demonstrate the use of handmade brushes and have the graphic design classes make their own brushes to explore calligraphy and hand designed lettering. It might be a good experience for the students to get away from the computer for a while.   

We suggested using the bottom portion of our homegrown Phyllostachy aurea bamboo (Chunky Monkey aka Golden Bamboo or Fishpole Bamboo) because that variety has a natural "handle" created by close, irregularly shaped culm sections.

Chunky Monkey bamboo grows much larger in cold climates than it does in Central Florida's semi-tropical temperatures.  The bamboo pictured here is domestically grown but not homegrown.  The diameter of our homegrown Phyllostachy aurea about half the diameter - the perfect size for a calligraphy brush project.
We shipped a box filled with the uniquely shaped poles and received an email back from our customer once the project was completed.

Notice the same uniquely shaped nodes as in the larger, domestically grown bamboo of the same species.
Hi Sherry,
I purchased some of your bamboo a while back to make calligraphy brushes. The bamboo is great and I made some wonderful brushes. Here are a few pictures when the bamboo was still green. I wish it would stay that way but it's changing into a beautiful golden color - which I like as well. Thank you for picking out some narly pieces for me. I'll be ready to order more soon.  -Stella

Bamboo is an amazing plant.  It is so versatile, functional and aesthetically pleasing.

A table full of calligraphy brushes

The finished product...so pretty!  Just looking at them makes me wish I could pick one up to just hold in my hand!


Greening up the outside dining area at Mellow Mushroom in Jacksonville

Black Running Bamboo in a planter at Mellow Mushroom in Jacksonville, FL

Yesterday when Tim was delivering bamboo to customers in northeast Florida, he stopped for dinner at Mellow Mushroom along Rt. A1A.  Last year, the Jacksonville location of Mellow Mushroom purchased two kinds of running bamboos from Beautiful Bamboo.  Mellow Mushroom is one of our favorite restaurants and ever since the Jacksonville location purchased plants from us, we've been curious about how they looked.  Yesterday Tim had an opportunity to find out.

The object was to break up the starkness of the tall wall with some greenery.  In just one growing season, Semiarundinaria fastuosa viridis (Green Hedge Running Bamboo) and Phyllostachys nigra (Black Running Bamboo) did the trick!

Running bamboos are not right for everyone because they are invasive.  They must be controlled so they don't spread into places where they are not supposed to be.  However, when used as a container plant, running bamboos have many advantages.  The container prevents them from being invasive and the plants' upright growth pattern works perfectly for narrow spaces.  Since running bamboos are also very cold hardy, they are an excellent choice as container plants throughout the United States.  They actually grow taller and have larger diameter canes in colder parts of the country than they do in warmer climates.
Another photo of the wooden planters used to contain the running bamboo


Bamboo rainsticks

Rainsticks made out of our homegrown bamboo poles

Bamboo poles have so many uses but one frequently requested project involves the use of bamboo poles to make rainsticks.  A few months ago, Kari, a customer in Kentucky, had that project in mind when she wrote to say: 

"Hi!  I just found your site on Google.  I am looking for bamboo poles for a homeschool group project.  We are making rainsticks.  Everything I've read says I need at least a 3" diameter by about 2' long.  (We can cut them here, but if you all can do that, that would save me work!!)  I'm planning on about 25 kids.  There are less, but I'd like some practice and some extras!!  We live in KY, so there would be shipping.  Could you please give me a quote and your best advice?  If you have an idea how to cap them off or what to use on the ends, I would appreciate that, too!!  Thanks!"

Our son Tim was also homeschooled and has made bamboo rainsticks himself.  Tim responded to Kari's letter:

"Bamboo does make a great rainstick.  When I've made them, I used a wooden dowel, or the end node of smaller bamboo, to close the ends.  3'' would work well, and we have three different kinds to choose from: our Homegrown poles, imported poles and polished poles.  The polished poles are going to look the most beautiful since the natural oils in the bamboo form a glossy look when cured.  We can cut the poles into 2' foot sections for a dollar a cut, which would yield you 4 pieces per 8' pole.  The shipping will be less with the cuts since the packages will be shorter- but for an exact quote I just need a zip code where they are going in KY."

Kari opted for 2" diameter homegrown poles (easier for little hands to hold) cut into smaller lengths. When the project was completed, she sent the following pictures:

My rainstick!

Enough bamboo poles to make rainsticks for everyone

Rainsticks are for more than making music...they're good to lean on too