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How to Make a Birch Bark Basket

Birch bark was a traditional construction material for many Native American tribes. Use this material to construct an attractive basket.


  • Step 1: Soak the bark Soak the birch bark in water until it becomes pliable. You may need to soak it overnight.
  • TIP: Use bark from a dead tree to avoid damaging a tree that is still living.
  • Step 2: Trim the bark Trim the bark to a square or rectangular shape with a sharp knife.
  • TIP: Practice with a sheet of paper before actually cutting the bark.
  • Step 3: Draw a rectangle Place the piece of bark flat on a table with the brown inner layer facing up. Using a ruler and a pencil, draw a border inside the bark's perimeter. The distance of the border from the edge of the bark will represent the basket's height.
  • Step 4: Make four diagonal cuts Make a diagonal cut from each corner of the bark to the intersection of the border lines.
  • Step 5: Fold the sides Fold two adjoining sides upward so that the corners overlap. Sew, staple, or pin the sides together and repeat this step for each corner. Then find something to put inside your new basket.
  • FACT: The scientific name of the white birch, Betula papyrifera, reflects the paper-like nature of the tree's outer bark.

You Will Need

  • Birch bark
  • Knife
  • Table
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Needle and thread
  • pins
  • or a stapler

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