Guadua

Guadua is a type of wide bamboo that grows around this area of Colombia. It is used by artistans at Made in Mogotes to create everything from candleholders, jewelry boxes, jewelry and wine bottle holders in various designs.

Below is a blog entry that was originally published on Little Colombia Observationist that gives an introduction to the plant and some of the products that can be made from it. 

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I come from North Tonawanda, New York – the “City of Lumberjacks”, so I suppose it’s only fitting that at some point in my life, I join a course that involves chopping wood, right? Well, it’s not wood exactly, but guadua.

 

casa3 Guadua Lessons: Part 1Juan Carlos brought over a selection of guadua photos for us last night…

 

Guadu-what? That’s what I said when Wilfredo told me he wants to build a house from the stuff. It turns out that regional lecturer Juan Carlos is in the village to run a four-Monday workshop on guadua handicrafts. I decided to sign up and see what it’s all about. (See being the key word since I can only understand about one in every five words or so that he says en español…)

 

IMG 1106 1024x740 Guadua Lessons: Part 1The first day of class. 15 people. Juan Carlos in blue.

 

Guadua comes from the bamboo family, grows easily in the area because of the temperature and altitude, and reaches up to 30 meters high. (That’s about 98 feet for those of you still in the City of Lumberjacks.)

 

aai Guadua Lessons: Part 1Another one from Juan Carlos

 

Yes, you can make houses. You can also build beds, tables, wine racks, birdfeeders, and – believe it or not – bicycles with the plant.

BambooBicycle1 Guadua Lessons: Part 1A photo from Juan Carlos

 

In our first lesson, we learned how to make guadua nails to hold our projects together and started on a mug and a jewelery box.

 

candelabros robinson Guadua Lessons: Part 1Another one from Juan Carlos…

 

After attendance (Juan Carlos couldn’t pronounce my name), an introduction and demonstration, we gathered into groups and set to work.

IMG 1122 1024x818 Guadua Lessons: Part 1

 

First we had to choose our piece of guadua. They know when to chop it down when it grows off-white spots on the outside. It has to be done bright and early at 4am when there is less water in the plant. It’s set out to dry and will change from green to brown when it’s ready to work with. We chose a nice brown one and hoisted it up into the, erm, guadua holder.

IMG 1111 682x1024 Guadua Lessons: Part 1

 

First step – measure out the pieces with a tape measure. Wrapping discarded x-rays from the hospital (ours was of a skull), around the plant, we drew out lines to cut. After making a slight incision (I was thinking surgery at this point), we got to work on step two – peeling off the skin.

IMG 1120 682x1024 Guadua Lessons: Part 1Juan Carlos showing us how to peel the skin

 

This was the fun bit. You take a very sharp knife and scrape back and forth over the surface for a long time until it’s soft, shiny and a nicer color with no more spots. When the floor was covered in a nice layer of sawdust (and so were we), it was time to pack up our half-finished projects to take home and soak overnight.

 

IMG 1115 1024x682 Guadua Lessons: Part 1

This is where the classes are held – the united artisans of Mogotes building

 

We got homework. Clean the insides with a brush the next day and use sandpaper to smooth down the edges. When we go back, we’ll finish them off and start something new. And maybe, eventually, we will build a house of guadua.

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