The rustic appeal of cabin decor make crafting with birch bark sheets a fun and useful craft for adults as well as children. Working with birch bark is a bit like working with cardboard; of course, children should always be supervised when using scissors and other sharp crafting tools.
The following craft project was originally published in Harper’s Young People, March 6, 1888.
Birch Tree Bark Sheet Craft
Very odd and dainty cards can be made from birch bark. Let us make one in the form of a book.
For the first leaf take a piece of the rough outside bark, and cut it to the size of a corresponding card.
For the middle leaf or leaves strip carefully from the inside of the bark a piece the thickness of note-paper, and cut it to the same size as the other. The corresponding card, which should be of sufficient thickness to keep the bark from rolling, should form the last page. Then tie the leaves together with a narrow white ribbon. A fern or a pressed flower may be tied in with the ribbon on the first leaf, though the plain bark is quite pretty enough by itself. An appropriate sentiment may be written on the middle leaf, while on the last a sketch in pen and ink or color adds artistic grace.
Cut narrow slits through the top and bottom edges of the envelope in which you enclose the card. Pass through these a narrow white ribbon half a yard in length. After sealing it with wax, bring the ribbon to the back of the envelope, and tie it in a tiny bow.
During a recent visit to a region where the white birch abounds the writer was greatly interested to find in what a great variety of ways the wonderful bark can be used. One can hardly expect to equal the skill with which the Indians fashion their canoes, and the pretty birch-bark baskets and boxes which we are so glad to buy; but the dolls’ hats which I want to tell you about are very easily made, and curiously pretty when finished.
Much to the amusement of her friends, this staid, grown-up person who is talking with you became so fascinated with these little hats that she laid in a stock of birch-bark millinery goods, and busied herself on stormy days in furnishing new spring hats to her many doll friends far and near.
With a demand for this particular style of hat, a milliner’s shop may be set up after a single walk to the woods. One piece of bark often yields ribbons varying in tints from white, through cream and buff, to brown, with sometimes a bit of pinkish color. These ribbons might go into one box, a supply of wild everlasting flowers in another, while a third box might hold a stock of feathers and feather trimmings which would meet the approval of the Audubon Society, being made by snipping the edges of strips of bark with scissors. To have greater variety in the trimming department, some of our delicate dried grasses might be made into little wreathes, and the everlasting flowers might be colored brightly with aniline dyes. Then, having fashioned our hats according to directions, we shall be quite ready for business.
If the dollies do not approve of these birch-bark hats as we do, preferring instead “a love of a bonnet” such as Fifine wore when she came from Paris, why, you can tell them that this wild-wood fashion is the very latest thing out among the Mackinac Indians—and where is the American doll, loyal and true, who would fail to encourage a truly American style of hat?
Harper’s Young People, March 6, 1888