During one of our trips to my wife’s grandparents’ house, I snapped a few pics of some great birch bark crafts made by my wife’s grandfather. He is in his 70’s now, and I’m sure that when he was a boy, making crafts like these was a common way to get things you wanted. By the way, this is just a very small sampling of what can be done with this fantastic natural material. It was also often used to make boxes, containers, baskets and much more.
The best time to harvest birch bark is in the spring when the sap is flowing. It comes off easiest then. For my first project (the matchcase below), I felled a small birch that I used for projects, firewood, a felling and limbing demo etc. Some say you can remove bark from living trees and the tree will still be OK, and others say this is a big no-no.
Here are some pics of me harvesting the birch bark last spring. I tried to cut through the outer bark, but not the inner bark, and then carefully pry up the outer bark with my knife. It came off pretty easily.
Supposedly, birch sap starts flowing when the first mosquitoes appear, and this also seems to be the best time to harvest the bark.