Tom Huang – Studio Projects

Canoe Derivatives – technical advances in strip construction
April 7, 2010, 10:39 am
Filed under: Art, Bamboo, Bamboo Canoe, Design, Furniture

I’ve been pushing hard on some new work getting ready for my next show at Wexler Gallery in Philadelphia.  It opens may 7th, 2010. I’m also so honored to be able to say that this is a joint show with Tom Hucker (see link).  Tom has been a hero to me for a while now, so I’m swelling with pride.  I’m really excited about where the work is going, and have really made some  technical changes/advances to the process in order to achieve the forms you see below.

These came from a sketch that arrived in my sketchbook sometime toward the end of the canoe experience (while I was editing the video that documents the inspiration, construction, and launching of the canoe -see link below).  A series of 6 forms were generated on a software program called Rhino, from which I was able to cut and print out cross section, similar to the canoe making process.  The program generates each compound curvilinear surface from 4 bounding curves that I define.   From there the process is similar to that of the construction of the canoe as documented in the video, with the following exceptions.

I’ve had to change the strip dimension.  I’ve cut the strips in half to create a more square cross section, this allows each piece to bend more evenly in both directions.

I’ve introduced Hot Glue as a clamping mechanism, a trick that maker and artist Rob Macks of Laughing Loon Canoes showed me when I visited his studio.  This replaces the wedging system documented in the video.


The bamboo was very clear in communicating it’s thresholds.  I was able coax a bit more flexibility by creating a humidor and moisturizing the the individual strips.  Steam bending would have worked as well, but not practical with this many strips!!!

Special thanks to my student/studio assistant Andrew Williams for all his help

Photo Credit: Aaron Paden

I hope to have three cocktail tables to show together in May.  I’ve chosen to do the three on the right in the rendering, primarily because it seemed like they would push the bending capacity of the bamboo strips in different ways – in wood working terms, bowed (warped along the length), crooked (warped along the edge),  and twisted (like a Twizzler although my favorite sweets are Skittles).




3 Comments so far
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Your description of the process of creating your tables is fascinating. I am a wood sculptor and developing furniture maker who has enrolled in your workshop at Penland in July. I live in Anchorage, Alaska – lots of birch but no bamboo! Where do you find it?

Comment by Chris Selin

I’m getting the raw strips from Smith and Fong – Plyboo in SF. They’re great to work with!

Comment by tomahawkku

just trying to connect.facebook has lots of tom huangs. when you get this drop us a line. susan says hi. sofa was, as always a good time.

Comment by freeland southard

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