How to Make Birch Bark Paper

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Thin pieces of birch bark can easily become writing paper.
Thin pieces of birch bark can easily become writing paper. (Image: birch tree detail image by Stephen Orsillo from Fotolia.com)

White birch trees, also known as paper birch trees, have as part of their growth cycle the peeling of their bark. This removal of the bark is akin to a snake shedding its skin as it grows. Birch trees were highly prized by Native Americans, who used the waterproof and flexible bark to craft canoes and to make baskets. Today's hobbyist can use the bark to make unusual place cards for the table, greeting cards or writing paper.

Things You'll Need

  • Birch bark trees
  • Paper towels
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Water
  • Ink pen
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Flowers, grasses, leaves

Collect thin strips of birch bark from around the tree at any time of year. The best time to gather strips of bark from the tree itself is in the spring -- from March to June. Pry up the bark with your hands. Be careful not to disturb the dark bark or the hard inner bark of the tree. White birch trees are recommended over gray or wire birch. Pieces can vary in size depending on what you want to use them for. A place card can be as small as 2-by-3 inches. A card should be a larger size, but the beauty of using elements from nature is their lack of uniformity, so they need not all be the same size.

Wash the bark pieces gently, using warm water and dishwashing soap.

Lay the bark to dry on several layers of paper towel. The bark will be flexible at this point, so use your fingers to gently flatten out the bark. Let it air dry.

Soak the bark in warm water if the bark is thick. Peel the layers to produce paper-thin layers of bark.

Use any regular ink pen to write your message on the bark. Make up a poem and write a love letter or Valentine message to your sweetheart. Hot- glue leaves, grasses and flowers to embellish your message. Or use the birch to create unusual place cards for a holiday table.

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