How-to Make a Birch Bark Basket

TUESDAY BASKET WEAVING TIPS–

In an effort to make more posts about basketmaking here on my blog, I went looking around on YouTube to see what I could find that was interesting and new to me about basketweaving.

Several of the basket guilds also have blogs and websites featuring their members that work with birch bark, too, but I wanted to find a video for this post instead.

birch-bark-basket-vase-peters
Cathryn’s birch bark basket vase

I love working with birch bark and have a lot of it growing here on our property, but prefer to harvest from trees that have already been cut down rather than living trees. I take the easy way out and just harvest from our firewood piles!

woven birch bark heart basket-Peters
Woven birch bark heart basket

Most of my birch bark ends up being winter bark, but I’ve also taken birch bark from felled trees in the early summer in June when it almost pops off itself. Easy, peasy, but the misquotes are really bad at that time, and so are the ticks.

Peters-birch-bark-antler-basket
“All From One Birch/Antler Basket” ©2006 Cathryn Peters

I incorporate birch bark strips into many of my antler baskets, and also teach birch bark necklace baskets classes.

I have also taken classes from Russian Basketmaker Vladimir Yarish at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota, which was really fun.

birch-bark-basket-necklaces
Birch bark necklace baskets–my class samples

I ran across this excellent video tutorial on “How to Make a Birch Bark Basket,” using birch bark, spruce root and willow. Hope you find it as interesting and helpful as I did. Enjoy!

What has been your experience with birch bark? Have you taken any classes? Do you harvest your own, or need to find a source for birch bark?

Please leave your comments below and link to your site if you have some pictures posted there, we want to see them, too.

2 thoughts on “How-to Make a Birch Bark Basket”

  1. where do you get spruce root?? I can’t find it anywhere. Is there something else I could use to repair a birch wastebasket? thank you!

    1. Joan, I’m sorry to tell you that spruce root is not readily available from conventional cane and basket suppliers. It’s usually only provided by the instructor when a class is being held or you purchase one of their basketmaking kits.

      Native Americans gather and use spruce root a lot in their basketry and birch bark canoes. They have forests that they gather from on a regular basis since it’s part of their heritage and is sacred.

      To gather spruce root, it’s necessary to actually dig up and then process the roots before using them in either basketry or canoe building.

      I lived up in northern Minnesota for the last 15+ years, where spruce is very prevalent. There were a lot of spruce and other pine trees on the property that I harvested from.

      But many weavers will approach the logging companies and request they harvest before the trees are cut, especially since disturbing the root foundation of the trees is not an issue if they will be cut down, anyway.

      You might try using seagrass as a substitute or even try Danish cord, willow or red osier dogwood, depending on what might suit your birch wastebasket the best. Good luck and I hope I was helpful!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top