Sunday, September 23, 2012

Local bamboo artisan puts heart into his creations

At our September 15 plant sale in Elk Grove, I had the pleasure of meeting Steven King, a Sacramento area bamboo craftsman that makes both beautiful and functional hand-carved art pieces made from bamboo poles.

Steve's business, Bamboo Whisperer ( is just getting off the ground and he has already sold several pieces.

Steve has had an interesting journey that ultimately led him to pursue his craft.

"In 2007, my vehicle was hit head on by a wrong way driver. After receiving 2 operations on the left arm and one on the right, I began using meditation as a method of pain control. During sessions, I would play various styles of music. One particular genre stood out from the rest, and is how I discovered the wonderous sound of the Shakuhachi.

Deciding to take the next step, I began learning the instrument and accompanying music. Being able to produce the sounds that captured my full attention was a wonderful experience. Deciding to display the flutes, I began creating ideas on how best to do so while maintaining the harmony within the instrument. It was at this point that I realized the best medium to use was the same material as the flute itself. Bamboo!

Just as I created the first wall-mounted display, I learned that the surgeries failed. Five additional surgeries and four years later, I was no longer able to position my arms to hold the Shakuhachi.

Being mindful of not what was lost, but rather my new found passion, I spent 2011 developing crafting techniques which would allow me to continue working with bamboo under the new limitations.

The Shakuhachi and the warm, open community which surrounds it across the globe, helped me through some very difficult times. Through my art, I hope that in some small way, I'm able to offer something in return."

In talking to Steve at the sale, his art is both a passion and a means to achieve peace and focus.  It was very clear to me that Steve loves what he does.  I can relate.  Although running Mad Man Bamboo is alot of work, it underscores a fact of life that if you love what you do, it doesn't feel like 'work.'

I also like it that Steve is a local craftsman.  He has a personal stake in his art and it shows.

According to Steve, "Bamboo Whisperer is art, inspired by nature and life. I don't consider the pieces a form of my personal expression, but rather an opportunity for others to see more of the beauty nature has within it.

Sometimes I can visualize a piece immediately, other times I will have it sitting next to me for a week before the first cut. During the latter, I know something is there, but the image is unclear. Over time, I've come to realize the vision is always there in plain sight, it was only my thoughts which were out of focus.

It is in this way, I am connected to every piece. Each one has either allowed, or enhanced a peaceful moment."

At the sale, we talked about Steve participating in future plant sales and local farmers' markets.  I'm hoping we will see him and his art in 2013.

In the meantime, if your interested in any of Steve's pieces, you can contact him at his website at


Mad Man Bamboo - Rocklin, CA
(916) 300-6335


bamboo flooring said...

these are really impressive, wonderful art work...

Unknown said...

Thank you.
Sean is fantastic on being supportive of local artisans. And to hear a comment like yours provides nothing but encouragement.
2012 was spent prototyping and developing techniques to work with the bamboo. I had a wood turner approach me asking where I learned my techniques. He has attended turning workshops and has tried to work with bamboo in the past, but to no avail. I had to admit the learning curve was steep, and I encountered many obstacles.
I found the main frustration was just that. Being frustrated.
Once I stopped attempting to dictate what I wanted to make out of the bamboo, and began designing around its qualities, the barriers dropped.
Granted, I have to use different saws with different blades, at varying speeds depending on each cut in relation to wall-thickness. Accompanied with the pattern of the cut to avoid splitting. Besides's a breeze! Lol......
Thanks again to you both.