Saturday, April 10, 2010

Gathering Birch Bark

When I was out walking last weekend I noticed several downed trees in our woods.  It had been really windy and we lost a few, which is often the case.  We have a lot of Poplars (or Popples as we call them)  in our woods which are notorious for falling down in high winds, but one of the trees that fell was a Birch .  While I was a little sad that it fell, there was little question that it would be put to good use.

I set out today with my little gatherers to harvest some bark from the tree.  The smaller limbs will be hauled back and cut for buttons and brooches, and the leftover wood will be put in our pile for firewood.  The bark however is destined for other purposes. 

Random fact- did you know that birch bark is an excellent firestarter?  It will catch a flame even when wet. 

I've chosen a branch from which to cut my bark piece.  I'm using a carpet cutter set shallow, less than .25", and am making a circular cut around the branch.  I make another parallel cut a few inches away from the first cut.  The distance between the two cuts will dictate how tall the resulting bark "tube" is.  Sometimes small branches or knots dictate this for you.

I then cut a line connecting the first two cuts. 

By sliding my thumb under the bark, I can just ease the bark off of the branch.  Just like loosening a cake out of pan.  (but don't do that with your thumb. Yuck)

And there you go!  Bark tube, ready for crafting.

I still have a lot of de-barking to do, but for now I have enough bark to keep me busy for a bit.  Expect to see some birch bark items in the shop soon. 

My helpers are thrilled.

Happy Saturday, all!


Sonia / COZY MEMORIES said...

oh so great !!! I can't wait !
oooh I don't know which faces I prefer ... the boys' or the dog's LOL

Brittany | the Home Ground said...

What a bounty! Can't wait to see what you do with them. I can't wait til I have time to play with my bark :)

Andrea said...

It's very common in these parts to use the bark as a canvas...
I love the ways you use it...
Beautiful work.

Kim van Waardenburg said...

I just love birch!!all the textures and structures!!

Valerie said...

Hi Lisa, I love this "tutorial". I saw your birch edged pendants in your shop, and wondered how you got that birch frame. What a great post. I love that your helpers are working with you too. One day soon, they will be doing your bark harvesting for you ;o)

FeltFinland said...

My late father in law would do wonderful weaving with birch bark. I used to love watching him stripping of the bark,cutting it into lengths and then make beautiful little baskets, shoes, stars...... A wondeful craft.
And yes it is the best for fire lighting, get the sauna stove going first time!

Margie Oomen said...

fern was wondering if you might build him a little birch bark canoe so he can take the family out for paddles on the pond

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Sonia - I know, they're terribly excited aren't they? lol

Britt - I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Andrea - oh as a canvas...that is really intriguing!

Kim - isn't it wonderful?

Valerie - I asked my helpers if they wanted to help and they said no. They love to destroy everything else so I figured they'd jump at the chance to tear bark from a tree.

FeltFinland - I wish I knew how to weave. I admire people who can.

Margie - I dreamt of tiny canoes and snails last night. I think we need to do this. I'll build the canoe, Fern will need to learn to paddle.

Terriea Kwong said...

Thanks Lisa for sharing this. Love your arts/crafts idea. eco-friendly OAK !

Unknown said...

This is fantastic! Plus your kids and your uppy are super cute...

jet said...

i love all your pictures and i had enjoy the pictures of the canoe so i'm happy that you have send the tute and how i must gatering birch bark.
thank you very much sooo sweet and kind those canoe's
thank you too for the sharing;-D


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