How to Make a Birch Bark Basket
1. Bark (p'llen) is carefully selected based on the size and purpose of the basket to be made. Bark is harvested from the birch tree the spring and early summer when it is warm enough for the sap to be running.
2. Using a sharp knife or blade the tree bark is carefully cut into just enough to remove the bark for the baskets. Sticks may be used to help the removal process.
4. Bark need to be worked on right away so that it is still pliable.
5. Using a basket pattern the bark is cut to size.
6. Very gently, one corner at a time, fold up the wall, leaving the corners overlapping. Using a metal or bone awl , pierce holes for stitching sewbasket seams together with softened, split cedar roots (stinesten).
7. To finish off the top of the basket make a hoop from red willow to fit the rim of the basket. Lay it on top of the basket and stitch it tightly on.
From Days of Augusta. (1973). J.J. Douglas Ltd. Vancouver, B.C.
This story is told by Augusta or Mary Augusta Tappage, born at Soda Creek in 1888. It was recorded in 1973. There was also a video produced featuring Augusta to accompany the selection of stories by Augusta.
And that’s how they make a basket –
With Saskatoon wood,
The Saskatoon wood makes it strong.
It’s made of birchbark, this one,
First we cut the birchbark from the tree.
Don’t just cut it away.
See the dark brown lines how short they are.
Don’t just sew with anything.
Take it up with gloves
And make it strong with Saskatoon wood
And there you have a berry basket –