BAMBOO WHISPERER: When I first started it took me three years to learn my craft and I quit seven times before I got it. The first couple of times the bamboo would crack no matter what I did. I tried googling how to carve bamboo and I couldn’t find anything. Over the course of time I realized that in order to make this work you have to design around the harmony of the bamboo. The only way to create from bamboo is to have a “state of no mindness”. I learned how to communicate with the bamboo on some level. I would look at each piece of bamboo and examine the shape, wall thickness, nodes, and diameter to understand what I could create from it. Bamboo is unforgiving unless you respect it.
FOREVER BAMBOO: How Did You Know Which Bamboo To Choose?
BAMBOO WHISPERER: Forever Bamboo had sent me a variety of poles and after trial and error, I learned what I could and couldn’t use. The three inch poles were too small to make any kind of design with the tools I was using. Then I discovered that the five inch poles were too cranky and already set in its ways. Finally, the four inch poles became my best option and were much easier to work with. In a way Bamboo resembles humans, sometimes it can get to set in its ways.
FOREVER BAMBOO: Why Bamboo?
BAMBOO WHISPERER: When I was younger I heard music with the shakuhachi flute and loved it. I had an idea to create a unique display for this instrument. I contacted someone in Northern California who had a large supply of bamboo growing, made a purchase; kiln dried the pieces, and constructed my first functional piece. From there made decorative pieces with Zen inspired designs that have become the most popular.
FOREVER BAMBOO: What Is Integral To The Work You Do?
BAMBOO WHISPERER: Mindset. I have learned that in order for this to work I have to be in the right state of mind. You can own every carving tool in the world, but unless you are at peace with yourself it can never work. If I find myself stressed I must shift my gears to calm and find that center. This is a different form of meditation that is essential to my work. A pinnacle moment was when I discovered there is no barrier of skill or tool to create; everything flows when you are in the zone.
FOREVER BAMBOO: Describe A Real Life Situation That Served As The Greatest Source Of Inspiration.
BAMBOO WHISPERER: In 2007 I was in a car accident that severely injured both my shoulders and wrists. During the rehabilitation process I took meditation to cope with my situation. I listened to calming music and loved the sound of the Shakuhachi flute. I wanted to recreate that sound so I attempted to learn. I had a series of operations that failed and even with rehab I couldn’t position my arms comfortably enough to play the flute. During that time I hit an all-time low and became severely depressed. I then began working on making my first stand for the flute and that failed. I got so frustrated I went to throw everything out and noticed one bamboo pole that was curved. This caught my eye immediately and I realized I could make a different design from the structure of the bamboo. I started working on the stand again, but couldn’t finish because the pain was so bad. From this I learned I had to find harmony with the pain. Working with bamboo has taught me that life requires a balance. If I carved the bamboo with too much strength it would crack and I would also find my body in pain. Just like the bamboo cracking, I found I was getting burned out. Bamboo reinforced that no matter how far down I was I had to hold onto my faith because something good will balance the bad. I wouldn’t change anything that I experienced with the accident because it helped me discover so many strengths about myself. Through this tragedy I discovered my purpose in life.
FOREVER BAMBOO: What Is The Most Challenging Step In Creating Your Work?
BAMBOO WHISPERER: Cutting the intricate designs. I spent hours researching information about carving bamboo on the internet and couldn’t find answers anywhere. I had to go through many experiments and dedicated a lot of time figuring out what worked and what didn’t. Each piece of bamboo is unique and the designs have to be carved in a specific pattern or else it will crack and you have to start all over again. Similar to the Shakuhachi flute, I used twine to make a traditional Japanese knot that helped to bind the bamboo and give it stability.
FOREVER BAMBOO: Do You Have A Favorite Art Piece That You Have Completed?
BAMBOO WHISPERER: My second flute display was the turning point for me because I learned that I could do anything with the right mindset. Without that lesson I wouldn’t be where I am at today with my carvings. The most difficult piece was the flute case. I had to find a perfectly shaped bamboo piece with the proper node length, diameter, ect. It took me two years to master this craft and it’s the most fragile design I have worked on.
FOREVER BAMBOO: What Motivates Your Work?
BAMBOO WHISPERER: I started drawing at a young age and would watch my mom paint. I found I was ambidextrous and could operate the carving tools with repetition. I want this to be my legacy; I want this to carry through many generations. I had many tough days and I owe it to the bamboo for getting me through the most difficult time of my life. If I give up on this I give up on myself. It feels like I am walking on the path that was meant for me. I don’t want to take shortcuts because I am passionate about my work and want to take it to the next level.
FOREVER BAMBOO: Where Do You See Your Business Going In The Next Couple Of Years?
BAMBOO WHISPERER: I hope to expand and have wholesale stores on the four Hawaiian Islands. I would also like to have shelf space in various stores.
FOREVER BAMBOO: Thank You So Much For Your Time! We Look Forward To Seeing Your Art Grow! Check out Bamboo Whisperer's work here!