Saturday, July 27, 2013

How to Make Bamboo Furniture: Part One

I have a real soft spot for bamboo furniture, and I've always wanted the parlor to have a few pieces. As it turns out, miniature bamboo furniture is incredibly difficult to find! I've been searching for over a decade, and only found a couple pieces, none of which were quite right for my house. In fact, the only piece of bamboo furniture I have is this chair that Mom made. It was one of the first pieces of furniture Mom made, and it's become quite rickety as the glue is letting go. I finally had to pack it away for safekeeping until it can be fixed or remade.
 This illustration of a bamboo "overdoor" caught my eye in a library book a while ago. I am completely addicted to dollhouse porcelain, so anything that lets me cram in a few more plates/vases/figurines is a good thing in my book! I had to make it.
I reworked the design to fit over the parlor door. I eliminated all the curved pieces, which would have made the project more difficult. I was also completely out of narrow dowels, so I used toothpicks to make the bamboo. Using toothpicks meant I had to break the long bottom piece into three sections, which I think made the whole thing a bit more fragile.
I used my chopper to cut the toothpick pieces to size. If anyone wants exact measurements, I can add them to the next post. The bamboo rings were made with DMC floss, covered in tacky glue and then wrapped twice around the toothpicks. I added the rings randomly, though I did try to keep the spacing fairly consistent.
My gluing jig was helpful keeping the bottom and vertical bars square.
I used my drawing to add the top and middle bars.
This is the assembled back portion of the overdoor. It still needs a shelf, decorative panel, and paint job. I had to pause here for a while, since this was as far as I had planned. I took a moment to check the fit over the parlor door.
 
Not bad, but it still has a ways to go!

The shelf was made from more toothpick and thread "bamboo", and a scrap of thin wood from a sandalwood fan. I tucked a piece of cardstock where the painted panel will eventually go. I'm thinking about adding panels behind the four bottom squares as well, but will wait until the I've painted the bamboo to decide.
Here's a better view of the shelf.

I'm also toying with the idea of adding a pair of little shelves for teacups or small vases on either side of the main shelf, approximately where you see them in the picture above. Next up, I'll be faux-finishing the bamboo, and painting that back panel.

26 comments:

  1. Wat bijzonder miniaturen van bamboe. Ik ben dol op bamboe en vind de stoel van je moeder en jouw rek dan ook erg leuk.

    Groeten Xandra

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  2. Well Done, Eliza! Your ingenuity is wonderful! I think that this shelf is going to be beautiful once it is finished judging by the way that it is now looking and once the miniature china is placed on it, it will be a Knock-Out! ( I love miniature china too!)

    elizabeth

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  3. Looks beautifull the bamboo furniture. I have seen painted metal furniture that looks just like bamboo.
    Miniature greetings

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  4. It is looking great. I look forward to seeing how you are going to do the faux finish.

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  5. I have been shockingly bad of late in commenting on blogs but your post triggered my return!

    What a great way to recreate bamboo and your overdoor must have been really tricky to glue together. It's a lovely piece and very unusual.

    You might be interested in this link - they have bamboo furniture http://www.robersonminiatures.co.uk/T%20Roberson%202009%20Product%20List%20Product%20List.pdf

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    1. Hi Irene,
      Interestingly enough, one of the Robertson's chairs at a local shop helped kick start my bamboo obsession, though I hadn't seen their website before. Thanks for the link!
      Eliza

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  6. Dear Eliza,
    What a wonderful pieces ! Thanks for showing how to make this item!
    Hugs Dorien

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  7. Clever idea! and the result is original and perfectly real. I love it. Thanks for sharing your ideas.
    hugs

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  8. I love bamboo too. I have so much growing in my backyard and I always wish I could find a mini purpose for it.

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  9. Great idea! I like your bamboo pieces.
    Greetings, Faby

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  10. This is a wonderful idea! Brilliant. Thanks for sharing the technique.

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  11. Can't wait to read more! Thanks for sharing this wonderful tutorial.

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  12. I love your project. When you say "the bamboo rings were made with DMC floss, covered in tacky glue and then wrapped twice around the toothpicks", what was the sequence? In the photo of this step, the floss doesn't look stiff from glue. Did you wrap/tie on the floss, then coat with glue, or coat the floss with glue and wrap it on while the floss was still "wet" and flexible, or did you coat the floss with glue, let it dry, and then wrap/tie it on?

    Also, I was wondering if you thought slender bamboo skewers might work in place of toothpicks. I always like making miniatures from material that matches (as much as possible) the real life thing. I think bamboo made from bamboo would be kind of neat (plus you would be able to cut longer pieces from a skewer than from a toothpick, but maybe it's too tough to glue together. I realize most skewers are thicker than toothpicks, but sometimes I find very slender skewers. I suppose it's up to me to experiment with that.

    Thanks for the inspirations!

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    1. I coated the thread with glue, then wrapped it around the toothpicks while still wet. After the thread was wrapped, I still had to deal with the two loose, sticky ends of the thread. Instead of gumming up my scissors by clipping the threads immediately, I twisted them between my fingers so that they made a single thread and let it dry. This made it easier to trim the excess thread. I'll take step-by step photos to explain this better!
      I agree that mini bamboo made of real bamboo would be fun. I haven't worked with bamboo much at all, so I don't know how it would take paint/glue. If you do try it, I'd love to hear how it turns out!

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  13. Love your 'bamboo' shelf it is going to look superb. It would be Victorian wouldn't it, they liked using bamboo and lots of porcelain on display too. The painted panel will finish it off nicely.

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  14. I've been wondering how to replicate bamboo in miniature! I might have to do something with it for my California Craftsman...

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  15. Hello Eliza,
    That is wonderful. Great work. I think the shelves are a great idea. I look forward to seeing it finished.
    Big hug,
    Giac

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  16. Hi Eliza,
    How inventive and original you are!
    It is a pleasure to read end learn from your tutorials, thanks!!
    Hugs,
    Gee

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  17. You did a really neat job Eliza.Id like to try too!

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  18. You did a really neat job Eliza.Id like to try too!

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  19. You did a really neat job Eliza.Id like to try too!

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  20. You did a really neat job Eliza.Id like to try too!

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  21. You did a really neat job Eliza.Id like to try too!

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  22. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  23. That's just amazing. If I want bamboo - I'll get hold of you. =P

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  24. I enjoyed reading your article. Please make more interesting topics like this on.
    I'll come back for more :)

    From Japs a researcher from Kings Great Buys

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