Making the Bamboo Structure



I started by gathering my tools, some bamboo, some wooden blocks, masking tape, a hacksaw and a marker pen.
I make a mark on the bamboo where I want to saw.
I then get some vegetable oil to rub onto the bamboo. The reason I do this is because vegetable oil keeps bamboo supple and stops it from splintering.
I then start sawing light marks, making sure to keep rotating the bamboo which makes sure it won’t splinter. I also used some masking tape to keep the surface from splintering.
I was able to cut lots of bamboo to build my structure.
After cutting the pieces I needed, I tried to tie the pieces together however it kept slipping.
Because I am very stubborn I tried to continue tying it together. I did hold a structure but it was way too unstable.
This is when I figured I should cut some notches into it so that it wouldn’t slip so much.
The new joints I made by tying the string around the bamboo and very tightly wrapping it.

After that I have to admit that things got a bit difficult and I was getting incredibly frustrated and upset which is honestly why there’s a lack of photos for this bit.

But I decided to cut things down and make a compact unit instead of a taller one like I had initially planned.

Once I had a frame, I tried to put string around it but it kept distorting and changing and so then I took the string off. I then covered it in masking tape and put the crisp packets in with some bamboo as the ‘watering tube’.



Crisp Packets

Since I wasn’t able to get my initial idea made because I couldn’t get my prototypes precise enough, I decided to change tactics and use an entirely different material.

One of the things I am quite conscious of is how much rubbish I throw away, especially crisp packets. I think it could be fun to try and see if I could get anything to grow in the crisp packets.


I was very happy with the results I got which are shown above. I planted some cress seeds in there and I was surprised at how fast they grew. It’s kind of interesting because I suppose the crisp packets help retain moisture in the soil due to be water tight and if you put them on their side which they will be, they are able to self drain as well.

I really like the idea of showing that you don’t always have to throw things out and hopefully making people think about discarded things as something with a second chance. It doesn’t necessarily have to be plant containers, but the plastic isn’t going anywhere anyways since it would either be recycled or sitting in landfill.

My plan is to use these as the plant pots and use a structure to support them.

The Final Prototyping

I have decided to make my final piece out of bamboo and string. However before I do that I wanted to make sure that I knew what kind of structure I was planing to do.

I had some of these tubes and lots and lots of string and so I thought I could use that to make a prototype. I also used a hacksaw to cut the tubes, not the stanley knife which is what I used to cut the string since I couldn’t find my scissors.

The tools I was planning to use.
Here I was deciding what the best way to rig my crisp packets was. I knew they would need to be tied to the structure somehow. I have decided on a shelving type thing where the packets can be tied to but also resting on something fairly solid.
This is the kind of thing I am going for with my structure.


Microbial Leather

Whilst I was watching a documentary about the future of fashion (I’ll link it below, it’s really good), I happened across a woman named Suzanne Lee who has been pioneering something called ‘biocoutre’ which is fabric made from microbes. It’s really amazing, she’s made jackets and skirts and all sorts with it.

The thing that got men interested in it was that it’s actually really easy to grow and it’s completely biodegradable and compostable.

I decided that I wanted to investigate it in order to see if I could potentially use it as packaging for my watering system.




I start by brewing 2 litres of tea and then dissolving some sugar.
I pour the mixture into a bowl and add some cider vinegar. After that I add the scoby. Once I have done that, I cover the bowl with a cloth to stop any interference with the growth.


After a couple of weeks a thick skin will have been created on the surface of the mixture. At this point it is ready to harvest.
The microbial leather starting to grow on the surface.
This is the fully dried microbial leather.
It can be cut and manipulated like normal fabric.
It can be pressed onto forms to create a seamless shape.
My microbial farm.

Clay Prototypes

The next prototypes that I attempted to make were made from air dry clay.

I measured out some paper templates and then rolled out my clay and started cutting my clay.

The idea was that I would cut out the pieces and then I could stick them together somehow.

The problem was that as the clay shrunk as it dried, it started curving slightly making it useless. With hindsight I probably should have weighed it down with something but I didn’t think to do so at the time.

These are the pieces of air dry clay I ended up with. Sadly they really didn’t fit together at all. 

The next attempt saw me trying to make a completed box with the clay whilst it was still wet. I did end up with a box and it did sort of work but it wasn’t really as precise as I wanted it and so I didn’t deem it suitable to work.

I think really for the level of precision I wanted, I should have used the laser cutter to cut some wood but due to poor planning and being too nervous to use the laser cutter, I ran out of time.

Making a Wooden Prototype

The next thing that I wanted to do for my project is make a wooden prototype. Unfortunately I didn’t take all that many photos mostly because I was doing it at home over the holidays and I was alone.

To make my prototype, I got a sheet of plywood (bad choice, I know) and made my measurements. Unfortunately at this stage I had not learned how to double check if my rectangles had right angles so I’m pretty sure some of them were off.

Once I had done that, I cut the pieces using a jigsaw. I don’t think I did too badly considering I have never used a jigsaw before but I know some of the pieces were a little off.

After that I glued the pieces together using some wood glue and used my clamps to hold it together.

As a final touch I cut a plastic bag to fit the interior and stuck that in using the glue and some double sided sellotape.

My wooden prototype that has some pansies growing inside it. 

Abraham Cruzvillegas

When I went to the Tate Modern just over a year ago the exhibit in the Turbine Hall was a giant installation by Abraham Cruzvillegas. At first it seemed to be a load of planters in a tiered formation.

However after reading the description, I realised that all the different sections with soil taken from different places in London and it was almost like an experiment to see if anything would grow.

This is the picture of the installation from the Tate website. It was only after reading about it that I really appreciated really liked this piece of work. 

Some of the planters had a lot growing in them whereas some of them, had nothing at all. I also really liked how DIY the whole thing felt since it was built with scaffolding and mismatched lighting. It was all very low tech.

I really like the thinking and the attitude behind it, that you don’t need some big sciencey set up to do this, and it’s really encouraged me with my own work.