The Beauty of Bark

Bark has been used throughout history for many different things, from medicines and glues to canoes, containers, and clothing to name just a few. Much of the history of such items has been previously mentioned in other blogs (so have a little search in the past blogs if you are interested)

At this time of year as the sap is rising, bark can be processed for a variety of different projects. Use this link for a more in depth look at how to process bark strips for projects.

Todays project has been made from twelve, one meter long willow strips, but firstly we need to remove the bark from the log.

Removing the bark from the log with a spud
Working all the way along
Releasing the bark from the log

Cut into strips 1.5cm wide and approximately 1m long. I used a leather strip cutter for this, but you could use a knife and a ruler. 12 strips were used for this project, however you could use any even number to create this pattern. For this project green bark was used however you could use bark that has been stored, although it would need to be moist to allow for some flexibility when weaving.

Cutting willow into strips, using a leather strip cutter

Using the traditional weave of over one strip and under the next, to create a square of weaving with all 12 strips of bark. I have alternated which was the inside of the bark and outside of the bark to give it a slightly different texture and look as the container dries.

Traditional weave of over one strip and under the next

Tighten this as you work to create something without any spaces. Next tie this square tightly to prevent it from slipping as you work the corners of the square based container.

Tie this square tightly to prevent it from slipping as you work the corners

The corners of the square based container are the most confusing! Taking the third and fourth weaver (or the middle ones if you are using a different amount of bark strips) Fold these over each to create a right angle (remember to carry on the over under pattern at all times.) Carry this on for the two weavers on either side so that you start to build your first corner. I found clips and pegs helpful to hold the weavers in place.

Folding the third and fourth weaver over each other to create a right angle
Using clips and pegs to hold the weavers in place

Continue with the third and fourth weavers on each side to create four corners. Tighten as you work.

Continuing the process
Holding it all in place as you work
Forming the four corners

Now continue the over and under pattern by joining all the bark strips together. As the container progresses you can remove the string that was used to keep the initial square in place. A spiral pattern of weaving should emerge.

Joining all the bark strips together with the pattern

Once you are at the desired height cut the bark strips to create an even top.

Ready to cut the top

Now use another bark strip around the outside, and one on the inside of the container top to create a more stable rim.

Forming the rim

These can all be stitched together. To do this I marked my holes and used an awl to push through the multiple layers of bark. Using spruce root I stitched using a whip stitch all around the top of the container.

Using spruce root to stitch rim together

Conveniently I have made a water bottle sized bark container.

Bark container complete
Ready to house my water bottle

There are many other bark weaving projects out there, so get stuck in, or find out more about one of the fabulous bark and weaving courses run by Woodland Ways.

Selection of bark weaving projects

Happy weaving everyone.

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