How To Make Birch Bark Containers
Way back in the days before industrialization, birch bark containers could be used for just about any purpose an imaginative mind could conceive. In the modern world, knowing how to make a birch bark container will most likely result in it's use as a decorative item or as a potted plant cover or as a simple planter. Birch bark containers offer a rustic piece of modern folk art that can be made reasonably quickly with few materials and tools, looking much more difficult to create than they really are.
To begin making a birch bark container, start by finding a birch tree that has fallen in the woods but has bark that is still in good condition. The bark can be removed by using a wide chisel and hammer, tapping the bark to the appropriate dimensions and then gently peeling it away from the wood. Good birch bark for use in making a container should be of moderate thickness and still fairly pliable. After obtaining the birch bark, wash it to remove any unseen insects and let it dry for a day or so before starting a container project. Using a utility knife and straight-edge cut the birch bark to the desired size and then double the length. The reason for this is that your birch bark container will be of a double thickness for durability. Roll the birch bark into the shape of a cylinder and clamp both top and bottom at the point where the bark ends. Next, using an awl or a nail, gently poke holes on either side of the vertical spot where the bark overlaps, about 1/2 inch apart on both sides. Repeat this process along the entire length of the bark overlap. Weave a strong piece of thin vine or twine in and out of the holes in the same manner a placing a shoelace into a shoe, knotting both ends tightly and remove the clamps.
Using your birch bark cylinder, trace a circle onto a soft piece of wood such as pine that is about 1/4 inch thick, and then cut it out using a coping saw. Carefully trim the bottom until it is the appropriate size to fit snugly at the end of the birch bark cylinder. Using a cotton swab apply wood glue to the edges of the bottom piece and place it into the cylinder and allow it to dry for 48 hours. Gently hammer brads or very thin nails around the bottom of the container to help strengthen the container, and the project is complete.