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I need to be in the bamboo basket business. Say that 10 times fast. :-)

 
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I need to be in the bamboo basket business. Say that 10 times fast. :-)
.....
Many of you may be familiar with my plan to purchase land in the Philippines, with my wife who is from there, and produce dried leaf and spice products for the foreign market.

I have stated elsewhere, that whatever businesses we pursue, it will always include a laundromat, since it is the most profitable of all small businesses I have checked out.
......
When people go to a laundromat, there's a whole lot of waiting involved. Many of the older ones know how to weave bamboo. They can teach the young ones. Usually, when women go to a laundromat or a hair salon or other places where they have to wait, they sit around chatting. And they leave with less money than they arrived with.

So, I want to have a weaving workshop that is available to all customers. We will have someone teach standard designs that we'd like to sell, but I will always be open to new designs, particularly if it's from someone with lots of experience.

The vast majority of Filipino ladies will seize any opportunity to make some extra money, during downtime. It will still be a full-on yak session. I will provide free coffee, tea and snacks. So long as they are weaving, I'll work it out to where it cost nothing for them to do their laundry. The typical cost to do laundry, is 25 pesos per kilogram, which is ridiculous when looking at the average wage of about 400 pesos per day. You could easily do a load of laundry that cost half a day's income.

It costs almost nothing to run the machines and they are available for $150 each. I will work it out, to where an average weaver is able to pay for her laundry in less time than it would have taken to do it by hand at home. As they become more skilled, I would expect them to be going home with money each time.

It could be the same for those who are getting their hair or nails done. Whenever they are waiting, they would have the opportunity to drink free coffee and weave. I won't be in the hair and nail business. I'll just provide  inexpensive space to someone who is already serving that market.

Many women who have children at home or who are older, don't participate much in the economy. They look after their family and keep the garden going. This would be a way to get a major household chore out of the way and to spend a whole lot of social time that makes money. I expect that many would show up on days when they have no laundry to do. We would include a room with kids toys.

Traditional skills like this are fading out amongst young people. Anyone making baskets on their own would be hard-pressed to sell many locally. But when we to get enough baskets together, then it's worth exporting. I want to make lots of things that can replace plastic shopping bags, plastic laundry totes and other things made of plastic. We will also make baby bassinets and a few other things that might be quite a bit more expensive.

We plan to sell Street Food. Some things like french fries, and roasted sweet potatoes and anything else that's not runny, could be placed in a basket that is lined with a paper towel. A much better choice than the plastic packaging that usually accompanies take out food. Sometimes the liner would be banana leaf. There would be a deposit, similar to that on a pop bottle. People scour the ditches looking for pop bottles that pay two pesos. So,  I will put a small deposit on my baskets. If they don't come back, that's because somebody needed some serving trays at home. No problem.

Some foods are steamed in bamboo baskets. Rather than making a cheap, disposable takeout container, the deposit will be high enough to pay for the item. People will have the option of returning it, or using the basket at home. Often one basket nests inside the other, so we will have a variety of sizes, so customers can collect the whole set.
......
I expect that most production would be shipped overseas. Most sensible jurisdictions are looking at getting rid of plastic bags and other single-use plastic. Therefore, I think reusable baskets that can be used for groceries and other purposes are going to see an ever-growing market.

Bamboo is readily available, and in as little as two years, I could have my own coming off the farm.

There is a plan to provide full-time employment to several farm workers. Sometimes it's too hot outside and sometimes it's pouring rain. So we will need something for these folks to work at during downtime. Most of the men are quite skilled with a machete. They could split the bamboo and run it through the electric machine that rounds off the rough edges. There are dye treatments and other things that could be done while the bamboo is green. Soaking in warm or hot water, makes thicker pieces much more easy to manipulate.

The more people who are weaving, the more efficient it gets. Each lady wouldn't be fiddling around trying to prepare a little bit of bamboo. It would be delivered to the weaving tables upon request.

We will make traditional Filipino designs, but we will also shamelessly copy any design that suits my fancy. I'm totally okay with cultural appropriation.

Basketry makes sense on so many levels, because they store easily and are non-perishable. I'm sure we will make our own harvesting baskets.
.....
As with many enterprises, this one will live or die based on marketing. There will be no trouble in finding bamboo and people willing to weave it. I will try to hook up with foreign grocery store chains. There are already hundreds of places on the internet where you can buy one super expensive basket, and then pay a bunch of shipping. I'd rather send them out in containers and have something that can realistically compete with disposable grocery bags.
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How about a foldable basket?

Woven bamboo bottom, and the two wider sides, with sturdy handles integrated. Somewhere around the standard western paper grocery bag dimension.

Then attach some sort of foldable fabric(?) mesh(?) for the two narrower sides. With appropriate connections at the seams one should be able to fold it flat and reopen.

I think rigid shopping bag replacements would be a hard sell, taking up a lot of room in the car while sitting there empty.. this compromise might help acceptance a fair bit IMO.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I recognize that they take room, but many baskets are nesting, meaning that one fits inside the other. The bottoms are narrower than the top. For this to work, the handle must be attached in a manner where it flips down and does not prevent the next basket from nesting. For me this isn't so much about end use, as about maximizing shipping space.

I think for those who want something flexible, we might carry some bags made from elephant grass. They can be shipped completely flat. Once moistened, they are easily formed into the proper shape.

We will also be shipping soap, flattened loofah sponges and spices. Squarish items, like bassinets could be stuffed with these products. Shipping cost is strictly about volume. There's no way we could ever overload a container with the things we produce. I don't expect to send a mixed jumble of products to a single buyer. On anyting that I send back to Canada, I would be the receiver. It's usually three or four months shipping time, so it would have to be sent long before my departure.
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someone here ought to award you one of those pep badges
 
Dale Hodgins
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Still in the planning stages.

I'd like to sleep in a giant basket.  Something similar to a dog bed or more hammock shaped.

This would find a local market. Garbage foam that goes completely flat,  is often laid on concrete. Anything would be an improvement.
 
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an excellent idea. you`re right, plastic bags seem to be headed out, and not only the shopping bags but also the bags inside produce departments need to be replaced.
here we're seeing a move back to the "basin" model, where you gather what you want to buy in a basin and bring it to the checkout (where your contents are dumped into your cart/bags/etc). Nowadays these basins are also made of plastic, but bamboo is a fabulous alternative. You could sell these to stores in larger volumes.
(image is a typical street fair in Brazil. back in the day you dumped your purchases into your cloth shopping bag and put it in a little cart, now it all goes into one plastic bag after another)
 
Dale Hodgins
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We used plastic trays like that at the market in Cebu. Only things that are the same price are loaded into each tray and they are put on the scale. In this case all of the plastic tubs are of a known weight, so it expedites the process. Each time the lady would try to pour a tray into a plastic bag, I would present my reusable one.

I educated many vendors about overuse of plastic, when they would call out to me. Whenever they had things like carrots or potatoes, wrapped into pairs in plastic wrap, I would tell them that I can't buy their food because of what they have done to the food and to their City. One lady sold roasted peanuts in Banana Leaf bowls that she made, between customers. I chose hers instead of the ones in plastic bags.
 
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Hawaii Island banned those grocery plastic bags awhile ago. Shoppers have since developed the habit of bringing their own cloth bags to the supermarket, though some will still opt to buy paper bags at 15 cents a piece. Among my friends, I'm seeing a dissatisfaction with the cheaper cloth bags because they wear out super fast. So now I'm seeing more and more durable bags being used. But the complaint is that they get dirty and have to go through the wash machine, thus making them flimsy and misshapen afterward. Recently I'm seeing stiffer canvas style bags and some hand baskets being used. In the farmers market recently I saw several shoppers using woven baskets. With baskets, one could lay a small hand towel in the bottom for cleanliness or simply hose the basket with water in order to clean it.

So your basket idea might catch on.

I wouldn't mind setting up a mini-business making those shopping baskets for my local residents. I think I'd include a removable, washable cloth liner of some sort, something easy to put in and take out. Perhaps held in place by an elastic band.

Now I need to find someone to teach me how the make those baskets. I've got plenty of bamboo, but not the knowledge of how to weave.
 
Dale Hodgins
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The people of YouTube will help you in that regard. I watched a group of children at a school in Laos each make a very serviceable container meant for making sticky rice. In the end, the teacher made rice in all of them.



I can't find that one now. This guy is weaving a very open basket that I think is meant for trapping fish. I saw some similar open baskets at the market in the Philippines. The lady selling sweet potatoes, cassava and yams, told me that she likes the open baskets because they don't promote rot, and if one of her items is going bad, she can see it and dig it out of there before it makes more items rotten. So the hand woven baskets really affect this lady's bottom line.

They're also easier to carry because there are so many gripping points. Plastic tubs only have handles at the top which can make it difficult for a shorter person to carry them without constantly bumping the basket against their thighs.
 
Dale Hodgins
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It's very difficult to find a comfortable bed in many homes, because of the low quality foam, sitting on hard surface.

We will start off by making beds for my own house and for others that we know.

I think I'll base mine on bamboo hammocks and some of the bamboo pet beds that I've seen.

In the pictures, you will see some reading nooks made from bamboo. Those would be very expensive to ship, with the roof on them, but if they were simply made like big bowls, they could nest inside one another for transport.

I find that cloth hammocks can be a bit too restrictive of movement. Bamboo hammocks with a mattress on top, allow the head and feet to be raised, while the bum is lower. They don't squish the person from the side, as cloth hommocks do.
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Su Ba wrote:Recently I'm seeing stiffer canvas style bags and some hand baskets being used. In the farmers market recently I saw several shoppers using woven baskets. With baskets, one could lay a small hand towel in the bottom for cleanliness or simply hose the basket with water in order to clean it.

So your basket idea might catch on.

I wouldn't mind setting up a mini-business making those shopping baskets for my local residents. I think I'd include a removable, washable cloth liner of some sort, something easy to put in and take out. Perhaps held in place by an elastic band.



An elastic band may be a more complicated tech than is required, nor as robust as desired.  I see cutesy lined baskets at garage sales that were originally sold for high bucks as items of "home decor".  If the basket sides have some slope, then the circumference of the outside rim a few inches below the brim is smaller than the circumference right at the brim.  So a simple triangle-shaped cut-out dag with a string tie to hold the edges together will hold the fabric securely.

More complex to sew, but I think not very complex: I often see a lining that has a simple hem with a drawstring cord inside the hem.  

This handbasket is sold on the Home Depot website and uses the tied tags to secure its liner.  It's not very well made, but the photo shows its construction well and shows the slope that makes a simple tie sufficient.
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lined basket with string tied dags to secure the liner
 
Dale Hodgins
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The handbasket reminds me of a joke I saw on a bumper sticker.

"Why is it so hot in here, and why am I in this handbasket." But our baskets are designed to get us out of the hell that is disposable plastic.

In Vietnam and other places, basket boats are used for crossing small bodies of water and they are used by people who walk along gathering shellfish or emptying crab traps and other things were a big boat is not needed. With a little more work, they could be made oval. I'd like to investigate those just to see how bed designs could be improved. I think the first thing, would be to put the ribbing on the outside

I'm not sure what the large basket in the last photo is for. If he had stopped one foot from the ground, you could throw a mattress in there and have a giant doggie bed.
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Dan Boone
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Dale Hodgins wrote:
In Vietnam and other places, basket boats are used for crossing small bodies of water and they are used by people who walk along gathering shellfish or emptying crab traps and other things were a big boat is not needed.


These roundish basket boats have a history in Britain as well, especially Wales; small oval woven boats are known as coracles.  The British Isles tradition was to weave them from willow and finish them with hide and tar; but Wikipedia says the Vietnamese version is bamboo, waterproofed with resin and oil:

The outer layer was originally an animal skin such as horse or bullock hide (corium),[4] with a thin layer of tar to waterproof it – today replaced by tarred calico, canvas, or fibreglass. The Vietnamese/Asian version of the coracle is made of interwoven bamboo and waterproofed by using resin and coconut oil. Oval in shape and very similar to half a walnut shell, the coracle has a keel-less flat bottom to evenly spread the load across the structure and to reduce the required depth of water – often to only a few inches. This makes it ideal for use on rivers.



Dale Hodgins wrote:I'm not sure what the large basket in the last photo is for.



Hanging storage of edibles?  It looks to me as if it would be rodent-resistant if suspended from a chain, or hung from a steel bar or any other point that rodents could not climb to or on.  My best guess.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I think I saw a coracle that had a closed in deck. It was some sort of fabric that is cinched up like is done with a kayak. Both boats can be used in shallow water and they can be used as a poor man's dinghy, to get to a larger boat. Then if there is some need to go ashore somewhere else, they have this incredibly shallow draft.



I remember copying the URL for one of the videos but I don't remember which one. So it's going to be a surprise for all of us. It was at lunch time and it's now 8 p.m.

Edit. That's right, he's making a sleeping mat. I bought two of those in Nova's home village, from her relatives. This is all that separated me from a somewhat lumpy, bamboo floor in a house the size of your average bedroom, that was on stilts. One of these mats would be very handy, placed inside a well-made sleeping bowl. They are not adequate when the floor is humpy bumpy.
 
Dale Hodgins
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With all my investigations of basketry, I've decided that some of my interior walls of the house, will be serpentine and woven from bamboo. We could place bamboo posts, to follow the desired path, and then boil bamboo strips so that they follow the winding path. Might as well dye them different colours while we're at it, for a total basket look.

This is taking me down an entirely separate rabbit hole. I'm going to want some seating and shelving built into that wall and now I can't imagine building it without creating a sort of skeletal topiary emerging from the overhead portion of the wall. Woven bamboo is so easy to join things to. Imaginary animals, over the top floral imaginations... But now I must forget about that rabbit hole for a little while. I'm sure Google Images will keep me busy.
 
Dale Hodgins
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The first photo is of a stretcher, for injured persons. There's no way that any modern country is going to let me supply them with bamboo stretchers. But I could see a similar open-ended basket being handy when harvesting other weaving materials, such as small bamboo and grasses. It would be nice to lay them straight and not bring a big jumble home. A smaller version might be handy when harvesting cut flowers.

Green burials are becoming more popular. I helped carry a woven willow coffin. A bamboo model like this one with a cotton cloth liner, will satisfy most places that allow green burials.
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Dale Hodgins
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A simple bamboo bed, with springs.

I used to have a cot that had stretchy springs, so that the centre dipped a little bit lower than the side rails. A fairly thin mattress was still comfortable, because it wasn't a rigid board beneath. I want to make beds like that.

We would use thick walled bamboo about 6 inches in diameter for the 4 sided frame. Then a woven mat of material one quarter inch thick could be strung across the gap, to provide support for the mattress. It would run across the top side of the six inch material, so that there could be up to 5 inches of center dip, without the center hitting the floor.

This cot would not have legs, but instead, the rails would rest directly on the floor. Felt pads or some other soft material could prevent it from scratching a shiny floor. If a purchaser wants legs, we could provide them, or they could simply put felt on 4 concrete blocks and suspend the cot above the floor that way.

When bamboo is soaked in hot water, it becomes quite flexible. The material could be wrapped several times around the side rails and then tied. It is incredibly strong when its in tension. Thin strips strung between strong rails, would have some spring to them.

If we want a bit more sag in the centre, one or more lengths of rope could be strung beneath the cot and a twist mechanism could tighten the rope, so that the rails are drawn together to give a little more sag.

For those who don't want to use a mattress, a mat with a finer weave could be laid over the bamboo springs. My mother-in-law and brother-in-law commonly sleep on thin woven mats, laid on a hard surface. Something with spring to it with a bit of give, would be a big Improvement.
.......
 People in the Philippines like to sleep close to the floor because it's the coolest spot in the room. Someone suspended a few inches above the floor on something breathable like that, will be cooler than if they were flat on the floor.

Many of the so-called beds for sale, have plastic headboards and are just cheap all around. They can be bought for as little as $40. So that's the market I would be competing in.

There are other products that contain a bit of wood and lots of pressboard. They cost more than that.

The joinery for something like this is pretty simple for those who work with bamboo. If a person can complete one bed in a day, my labour cost would be $10. I think the material will be worth about $15.

 So there's not a huge spread, but there doesn't need to be. I wouldn't be trying to sell these online and shipping them. Just sell to the local market at first and see how it goes. I'm going to need 10 of them, to outfit the house and a bunkhouse for workers.

If they prove popular, I would include some in an overseas shipment.

The drawing comes the closest. Subtract the feet and headboard.
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I wonder how difficult it is to make bamboo cloth? I like the idea of bamboo baskets, but rigid baskets are too bulky for my needs.

Perhaps some crochet of knitted bags made of a more flexible form of bamboo fiber? I like the loose weave idea because it allows dirt to fall through the holes.

A bamboo fiber bag could be rinsed off when it gets dirty.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I've never heard of making cloth with it, other than the very energy and chemical intense creation of rayon. I've always known that the promotion of bamboo rayon as a green products, was a huge lie.

So, I think, it needs to be rigid baskets and if we want something more flexible, it could be elephant grass or some other grass. I've seen some ladies bags done in a very wide type of reed grass. But it would not be as durable as of one made from mature bamboo.

Probably best to let bamboo be bamboo and let cloth be cloth.

These photos are fence panels, but they've given me some inspiration for interior house walls.
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LOVE all of your basket ideas. I use baskets a lot around my home and have an african style with a handle for farmers marketing. I also recently had some small round baskets with no home use and so I stuck them in the sandbox of my daycare and the kids LOVE them. You could make a stacking set specifically for children's summer beach-going.

 
Dale Hodgins
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Some kids in the Philippines habitually carry a basket around. They might find some fruit or firewood, or a pop bottle or any other item that they feel is of value. I think putting it in their basket is like marking territory.

I watched some videos where they were doing wattle and daub with bamboo. It's easy to get a very uniform job as compared to cutting willow or hazelnut whips. I'm planning to build a concrete block house, but interior partitions will be made of woven bamboo and some of them will be covered with daub. I could see going just six or seven feet high with the wattle and daub and then just bamboo above that. We want air flow.

I also did a couple laps around the internet, looking for sculptural shapes and buildings made from bamboo. There's a million of them.
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Location: Southwestern Ohio
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the difference in rigidity for many things is number of divisions per unit. A visual representation would be like chains. if each link is 3 inches, it would take a foot or more to get a good serpentine. reduce each link to half an inch, and you can do it in a few inches. if rigidity is an issue, then reducing the thickness of the pieces would help in the case of larger diameter bamboo, this is often done by splitting. Of course, the smaller and more 'able to flow' you go, the less resistant to wear it becomes, in general.  If folding flat is desirable, then maybe instead of basket weaving as such, weave separate squares/sections that can then be joined. Again, there would be a trade off there, but would be more attractive to end users. For joining them, something as simple as split rings or as complex as integrated D rings could be used.

on the subject of using bamboo for a bed, having something to act as a tensioner would be key. if you want a baggier, hammock feel, loosen it, if you want a firmer feel, tighten it. this would also extend the usable life of the mat, assuming that the fibers would 'relax' or lengthen over time. off the top of my head, a wide diameter bamboo could be used as the roller(Depending on how much excess there is), but I'm not sure how to lock it in place without modern ratcheting technology. this would also allow for a certain amount of improvisation if the mat size availability changes suddenly.

For end-use consideration, I've seen people hang 'chains' of basket from the ceiling and having a mesh basket that would be the right width and depth to be used on a bookshelf or in a cabinet. I'm not sure how much money there would be in this, but small diameter bamboo, think finger-sized, is popular for reptile keeping in all lengths. obviously it would take up space that could be used for baskets, but if you needed a bit of bulk or had odd-sized gaps. also, reusable steamer baskets for various pot sizes.

Just some ideas. If you have some businesses in mind, then contacting them directly to see what sizes they would be willing to buy and at what price point would be great from a planning point,  but odds are you'll have to at least initially, work with what is already existing.
 
This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be. Now it's a tiny ad:

The permaculture playing cards make great stocking stuffers:
http://richsoil.com/cards


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