Birch bark is a strong and water-resistant bark that can be easily cut, bent and sewn. That has made birch bark basketry a valuable craft for many years. This traditional art honours the teachings of our ancestors whom have gifted us many seasonal ways of living such as basketry, hunting and clothing, song and dance, and storytelling and games.
Tools & Materials
- Paper birch bark
- Cedar root
- Saskatoon branch (to reinforce top of basket)
- Birch basket pattern (s/m/l)
- Leather strap for basket
- 4-6 steel clips to hold basket in place
Early spring, go out to search for birch tree/ find tree with no knots, scars or blemishes. I suggest that new learners to find someone knowledgeable of the craft to bring them out to gather birch bark. There are protocols that have not been mentioned. Contact your closest first nations community to find someone to help plan an outing.
Cut birch just under first layer around tree. Use hand to slowly peel around tree.
Lay flat or roll and tie to be brought home.
Put birch on table flat, draw with pencil pattern
Cut pattern out with an exactor knife
Shape into basket, hold in place with clips
Using awl make holes to where basket will be stitched with cedar roots. (If birch is drying you can heat or wet)
Put saskatoon branch on top/inside of basket to reinforce top-stitch with cedar root.
You can add a leather strap if using for picking berries.