February 24, 2011

DIY Birch Bark Necklaces

If you've ever taken a walk through the woods, you've probably seen stands of white birches with their distinctive, papery bark. The material is great for lightweight, unique pendants that you can easily make yourself.

Please don't strip a live tree, however! Look for branches that have fallen (or been pruned) off instead. If they've been exposed to the elements for a few months, the wood inside will have started to rot and it'll be very easy to slide the bark off in one piece.

Try to find a piece that has lots of interesting details - curved knots, dark and rough patches, neat striations and lines. These imperfections are perfect for creating one-of-a-kind pendants!

Here are some of the different shapes you can cut out. Geometric shapes like triangles and half-circles work well, but asymmetrical ones look great too. You can see that I cut some fringe into the piece on the bottom left to add even more detail. Do whatever you like!

Use an awl or thick sewing needle to pierce holes near the top on either side. Don't force it through too quickly, or you might rip through the bark. Twisting the needle or moving it back it forth as you push it through works best. Attach jump rings using needle-nose pliers, and attach whatever type of chain you like (not shown).

The finished product! You could also use two pieces, keeping one as the bottom pendant and attaching a smaller one further up on the left or right side as an accent piece.

Try not to get your necklace wet, or the bark may brown from the tannins in the bottom layers. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend glazing it with ModPodge or something similar either. It should be pretty strong and sturdy as is, as long as you're not too rough with it!

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