I was inspired to use birchbark in my designs by one of my favorite trees on my country property, the birch. One fairly young tree of the many stands of birch we have was peeling and great sheets of the bark were hanging off the tree and lying around its base. Because I was already making watercolor paper jewelry, I thought, what if I used a similar process for these paper-like sheets of birch. I made a stunning pendant for myself and was hooked on working with this lovely velvety material.
A friend of ours loved my birch bark creations and offered to gather bark for me from fallen birch trees on his large acreage; the birch-bark collection was born. By combining thin birchbark with a foundation of watercolor paper, I began making cuffs, earrings and pendants, and the thicker, woody pieces of birchbark, which do not need reinforcing, are used on their own.
Making birchbark jewelry is a lesson in patience since it requires many steps to turn the rough, dirty bark into a thing of beauty. From selecting the best pieces of bark to its initial boiling to cutting, sanding, burnishing and even sometimes painting the bark with watercolors or dyes, the birch bark magically transforms into art jewelry. Birch bark has been used for eons for jewelry and so many other functional and decorative items and I love working with this very special organic.