The natural, durable and attractive bamboo not only makes mats, baskets and other handicraft but is also used for high-grade packaging, decorative panels, curtains and window blinds. The bamboo window blinds, in fact, not only give a classic touch to the interior decor of a room but keep it cool as well. Bamboo craft is based on its specific weaving techniques. These weaving techniques can be classified as plane weaving, dimensional weaving and mixed weaving. To begin with, a bamboo crafter must know the plane weaving technique for bamboo craft.
Plane bamboo weaving creates two dimensional or plane products like woven mats or carpets. It is different from method of making three dimensional products such as baskets, lampshades, figurines etc. Before weaving, the bamboo culms are processed as follows to make them apt for weaving.
Processing of Bamboo for Weaving
Green skin of the bamboo culm is removed by scraping off its green surface with the help of a blade. Force is applied evenly along the culm surface to ensure uniformly colored bamboo.
The upper edge of the culm section is flattened to facilitate stripping. A sharp knife is used to cut evenly around the edge. The culm section is divided into slivers of an equal width. The number of slivers depend upon the diameter of the culm. Cutting is done carefully from the edge downwards along the length of the culm. The slivers are then completely separated to form individual pieces.
Slivers are striped into fine layers. The knife is held with the blade horizontally against the upper 1/3 of the cross section sliver. First cut is made by nipping the blade into the sliver. Then the blade is placed 0.5 to 1 mm away from the first layer. After repeating the process for a required number of times, the layers are peeled off. The thickness of the layers depend upon the need of the intended woven product.
Layers are separated into fine strips by using both the hands. The strips may be lighter or darker in color from one another. They are arranged accordingly.
The bamboo strips are then dyed and bleached with the help of various materials such as dyes, sulfur, hydrogen peroxide or other chemicals. Soaking, boiling, washing, air drying etc. methods are used for the purpose.
Plane Weaving of Bamboo
Before moving on to the process of plane weaving of bamboo, there are two basic terminology that need to be understood by the novice bamboo weaver. These two terms are – Warp and Weft. Warp is the set of parallel bamboo stripes providing the foundation on which plane weaving is done. They are positioned lengthwise on the work bench or work area. Wefts are the bamboo stripes that are inserted widthwise under and over the warp in order to make a design.
The basic technique for plane bamboo weaving is that of weaving dots into pattern. It involves combining two colors of bamboo- one light and other dark- along the warp and weft of the bamboo strips. Color intensity and contrast in the patterns are created by changing the density of the dots woven under and over the warp.
There are many other traditional methods of bamboo weaving that are also interesting to know.