Thursday, March 29, 2007


I'm working on a detail for the connection between the cross sections and the vertical struts. Markus gave me the idea of looking at a compression type detail and I've been playing with it a bit. The idea is that the force generated by the bowed verticals will be strong enough to hold the connection together.

This idea shows a 3/8" length of rebar bent into a functional/fanciful form - planted in the end of the pole and lashed firmly.

I'd need 20 of them. I think I could probably make them with an anvil, a big hammer and a torch . . .

I gave my bamboo order to Andy today. I'm getting about 150 poles in a few different sizes in the hope that it will allow a little more creativity during the first construction. It'll be 6 to 8 weeks before that bamboo arrives - I'll have plenty to keep me busy until then.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tonkin Cane Bamboo

This weekend I took a trip out to Marcus McNabb's place to talk about the project and see some of the bamboo poles he has used in his work. His property is magical - it reminds of the forest of the Gods in Spirited Away. The Tonkin poles Marcus had on hand were very different from the ones I used last year - much thicker walls, very springy and still light in weight. After handling these poles I'm convinced that they would be a good choice for the tower. So tonite I'll be picking up a bundle of these from Andy Royer's wherehouse on my way home. Andy imports Tonkin for builders of fine fly fishing rods:

Bicycle inner tubes! A friend of mine, Rusty Knorr, works in the bicycle department of REI which happens to be right across the street from my office. Rusty is going to start saving road bike inner tubes for me to use on the project.

Friday, March 23, 2007

bamboo connections

A friend of mine on the island, Brad Roter, introduced me to two of his island friends who have a lot of experience working with bamboo: Andy Royer who imports bamboo and Marcus McNabb who builds with it. These guys have a lot of advice to offer and I'm sure I'll be consulting them as the project develops.

I'm going to explore a lashing technique that may allow me to abandon the bolted connections and still allow the sections to be pre-built and collapsed for travel to the Playa. It's somewhat based off the rubber band technique used by Antoon Versteegde on his sculptures. My first idea was to use Thera-band strips - I can get them in 50 yard rolls in my favorite color: black. The color of the band indicates its strength, black being one of the stronger versions. Another material possibility is recycled bicycle innertubes - although I think they may have a shorter life span under the sun. Experiments to commence soon.

I'm also exploring the idea of eliminating the 4 inner poles of the shade structure and running the guy lines from a floating ring that would be hung just below the top of the first tower section. I believe this technique will impart very little horizontal stress on the tower, instead pressing it down into the earth. Experiments required . . .

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

dowel model

I finished building my G.I. Joe scale dowel model and made a few discoveries about the connections. The basic idea seems to work but I'll need to lengthen the overlap on the vertical sections, especially on the upper levels where the pieces are more vertical. The bolts holes work just right being opposed 90 degrees. I may need to add tension lines to triangulate the square plan sections. I won't know until I have two or three of the full sections stacked up - there may be a stabilizing effect from the compression and connection of the sections.

I hope to meet with a few folks on the Island tonight about sources for bamboo. I think I'm ready to start some full scale experiments!

My contract interview is scheduled for the 2nd of April.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

the commute

We had an amazing sunrise this morning! I captured a few images as the ferry made its way from Vashon to the mainland. Commuting to the office isn't all bad . . .

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

creeping forward . . .

While waiting to procure some bamboo, I'm working on a wooden dowel model of one of the tower sections. I hope to discover the correct angles I'll need to drill for the connection holes on the bamboo poles. My gut feeling is that the ends are 90 degrees opposed, so that's where I'll begin. I won't get to that part until the weekend.

I think I may have located some LED lite strings at a reasonable price - the place is called Animated Lighting: - they also have a lot on lighting control boxes designed for creating big animated light displays. More investigation required!

Monday, March 12, 2007

07 Projects Email list

The BMORG has created an email list to facilitate communication to and among this year's funded project teams. The first order of business is the contract. I'll have a teleconference with LadyBee and Crimson Rose regarding details like payment plans, tickets, early arrivals, fuel, etc. Then I sign on the dotted line!

Also, an announcement will be made in the email newsletter "Jack Rabbit Speaks" listing the funded projects with links to their websites. I'll use my proposal site with a few modifications.

I've found out about a few folks working with bamboo on Vashon Island and hope to meet and discuss my project with them in the next few weeks. I'll need to start purchasing some poles soon - maybe one of these folks can point me in the direction of a good resource. If not, I'll be heading over to Bamboo Hardwoods in Seattle. They have a plethora of bamboo products including the Tam Vong timber bamboo poles I'm considering for the tower.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


Tall Grass - a 65' tall bamboo tower and shade structure designed for Burning Man 2007 has been awarded a grant from the BMORG! I'll be using this blog site to document the process of taking the design from ideas and computer renderings to the actual physical object installed in Black Rock City.