Birch Bark Weaving

birch bark knife sheath on evergreen needle background

By Dave Kretzschmar, KLT Education Director

This week we will be exploring just one way you can use one of nature’s most wonderful materials, birch bark. The bark of the birch tree has been used for centuries to create variety of items. To further your learning and open your eyes to what is possible try searching for “Russian birch bark” on Google Images.
This lesson will cover harvesting, prepping bark and weaving birch bark to make a simple sheath. But there are so many birch bark crafts you can try: from baskets and quivers, to foot wear and canoes, containers, lamp covers, bowls, ornaments, hats; a never-ending list. This weaving technique could also be easily adapted to make an Easter basket!
Birch bark can also be used to make ornaments for Christmas trees, or to hang in your window any time. Another simple birch bark craft is the Odawa mini-canoe – The pattern for that craft is in the handout as well.
Once you’ve finished your sheath, ornaments, mini-canoe, or even an Easter basket, post photos with #klteducation so we can see what you’ve created!
One of our staff members did a beta test of this craft and here are some recommendations from her:
  • Learn the technique using strips of paper, it takes some puzzling out and its much easier with paper
  • When you fold your strips over, you are folding them at a 45 degree angle – while the over/under makes squares the edge fold makes a triangle
  • After each edge fold,  flip your sheath over and make sure the other side is correctly woven

Have fun and don’t get too frustrated – keep trying and you’ll figure it out!

Click here to download the handout: Birch bark weaving

If you’re struggling, you can watch a video of Dave making a birch bark sheath. Click here.