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First steps in Birchbark

Discussion in 'DIY and Traditional crafts' started by John Fenna, Oct 18, 2019.

  1. John Fenna

    John Fenna Lifetime Member & Maker

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    Well - it ain't no canoe!
    Having been given some nice Finnish birchbark by Redkite (thanks Stewart!) I started playing....
    My first Birchbark basket.
    It ain't as easy as it looks - what with splitting out and cracking of the bark - but despite some issues I got a reasonably functional item out of my first try - 6.5" x 5" birchbark and natural cordage
    PA180001.JPG PA180005.JPG
    I plan some more trys tomorrow, building on my experience! :)
     
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  2. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

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    Nice!
    Did you steam (or immerse in hot water) the bark first?

    You have made a great nut container, for those dark TV evenings!
     
  3. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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    That finished up very well. What's the source of the cordage fiber?
    I can imagine dozens of such baskets for winter storage of foraged materials.
     
  4. John Fenna

    John Fenna Lifetime Member & Maker

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    I think this cordage is waxed nettle... but not sure - it just came out of my "ready to use " bag of cordage I prepared ages ago...
     
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  5. SaraR

    SaraR Full Member

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    Nice looking!
    Normally you soak the birch bark to make it more pliable (it will still have a tendency to split) and you thin it out a bit by removing the outermost layers. That way you don't get all the dry white fluff.
     
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  6. John Fenna

    John Fenna Lifetime Member & Maker

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    I followed the dry heat method of making the bark more pliable - it also meant my guide marks did not wash off! :)
     
  7. John Fenna

    John Fenna Lifetime Member & Maker

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    Well - I have had another play....
    I still had a few issues with splits happening but - and I am not knocking the gift or making excuses - as the bark is far from fresh, has multiple woodworm holes and lots of lenicles and pre existing splits - I do not think the results are too bad.
    I tried out the soaking trick - it made the bark curl an awful lot - and I found that premarking the folds and aplying dry heat worked best for me.
    The cordage on the two new baskets is Lime bast - freshly prepared from bast that I had in hand - and splits were repaired/controlled with pine resin, beeswax and charcoal glue that I had in stock.
    PA190001.JPG PA190002.JPG PA190003.JPG
    I have waxed the baskets with a home made beeswax/teak oil polish to bring up the colour.
    I still have some bark left but as I am happy enough with the baskets I will try something else (pot? knife sheath?) when I get some more playtime :)
     
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  8. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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    This is honest paleo at its best. Economical cord stitching, too.
    I can imagine them heaping full of foraged foodstuffs.

    I know you work with birch bark that is far more difficult than what we have here =
    Betula papyrifera which dominates north eastern north america.
     
  9. SaraR

    SaraR Full Member

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    Weaving is great for using up long and narrow offcuts. Adjust the size to what you have available.

    You could also try making a small wrap around box. Gluing a few pieces together and shaping into an oval tube, with bevelled discs of wood for lid and base. The birch bark is closed with one/several arrowhead tabs into slits, if that makes sense.
    I've only done one small snuffbox in the wrap technique, so don't remember in very well. Also being 11 at the time, it was quite some time ago! (Obviously I didn't use it for snuff...)
     
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  10. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

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    Had you been from Norrland you would have been a seasoned snus user by the age of 10!
    :)
     
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  11. John Fenna

    John Fenna Lifetime Member & Maker

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    A woven sheath is an idea I will look at - as is a folded and sewn pot ... then I will see what I have left in the way of bark.
    I am fully committed to work and chores for the next couple of weeks (and the weekend will be spent camping) so no playtime for a while!
     
  12. Sundowner

    Sundowner Full Member

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    Extremely nice work Mr Fenna
     
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  13. John Fenna

    John Fenna Lifetime Member & Maker

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    I realised that I lied - I have done some birchbark work before!
    And some resin glue....
    Pine resin glue (3) glue sticks.JPG
    bark matchbox and .....pot
    the matchbox is sewn with natural cordage, the pot done with an
    "arrowhead tab and glue" seam
    " DSCF1038 (2014_12_26 19_57_08 UTC).JPG
     
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  14. Nice65

    Nice65 Full Member

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    I’m 100% in agreement. :)
     
  15. John Fenna

    John Fenna Lifetime Member & Maker

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    Thank you gentlemen.
    Who said that the camera never lies.... not so good looking from ALL angles:)
     
  16. John Fenna

    John Fenna Lifetime Member & Maker

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    I have also done a bit of Cherry bark work - too many years ago - and I may try one of this style in the Birchbark....
    2006_0920Image0003 (2014_12_26 19_57_08 UTC).JPG
     
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  17. CLEM

    CLEM Full Member

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    Well played Mr Fenna, very nice indeed mate
     
  18. dwardo

    dwardo Maker

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    Lovely stuff John.
     
  19. Tank

    Tank Full Member

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    Again lovely work John.

    This was my fist attempt today at making a birch bark container. I had some birch I gathered from a downed tree which although a bit scrappy was the thickest I had been able to source.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    On to attempt 2.

    [​IMG]

    ATB Tim

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk
     
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