Thursday, November 18, 2010

Weaving Cedar Bark

Coil of Red Cedar Bark

Earlier this week the kids and I had a chance to participate in one of the many fantastic homeschool programs that a nearby museum offers. This class was particularly exciting because we were going to learn how to weave a mat using red cedar bark. So cool!

The above photo shows a coil of bark that had been harvested from cedar trees only minutes from where we live. Members from the museum went out into the forest with a first nations guide and he showed them exactly how to harvest the bark from living cedar trees without damaging them. They had a photo slide for us to view and the fellow said a little prayer/blessing to the cedar tree before cutting into the bark and then they pulled strips of bark off of the tree in giant lengths reaching from the base of the trunk all the way upwards. Once the bark was pulled from the tree they then separated the softer in bark from the rough outer bark and the inner portion was what we worked with :)

Weaving bark

When we arrived there were strips of the bark that had been soaked for a couple of days to soften them and make them pliable for weaving waiting for us on the tables.

Weaving bark

We started with a very basic basket weave pattern of just weaving the strips in and out of each other while alternating the pattern so it looked like a checker board.

Basket Weave

As soon as all of the pieces had been woven we started to work the ends in by flipping them over and weaving them into the opposite sides. It looked really simple when we were shown how to do it but when it was time to do it ourselves you really had to pay attention to which way you flipped the ends because one wrong move and you muddled your pattern *grin*.

Woven Mats

Here are two of the little woven mats the children made. As you can see there were a few little boo boos where the pattern got a little mixed up :)

Red Cedar

We all had so much fun and now I'm tempted to try pulling some of the bark off of a few of the cedar trees we have here on our property *grin*. I think I'm supposed to wait until spring though so that will give me a little more time to find out exactly how to do it so that I don't hurt the trees :)



Jenn4him said...

Now that's a program that I'd like to attend! I bet they smelled good, too. You have a great homeschool.

April said...

Very cool indeed! I would love to find a class like that around here!

Anonymous said...

What a great project! Kelly has made things out of cedar bark that he harvested. This book tells how to do it.

Our sweater unraveling was a success! And you were right, my 4 yo had a great time doing it. I did not expect it to be such a kid friendly project. :)

Rosina said...

Ooh very cool Cori! I just checked and our library actually has an ebook version available so I downloaded it and had a quick peak. It actually gives times for the island and when to pull it. I can't wait to do a little more reading! Thanks for sharing that with me and I'm so happy the sweater unravelling went well and the boys had so much fun :)

Amy said...

Oh, that looks like so much fun! I wouldn't have realized that you could remove bark from a tree without damaging it. I wish I had a cedar tree!

Debbie said...

I want to come and be a part of your homeschool. Our co-op doesn't do cool things like least not yet. I'm going to start pushing for cooler stuff. :)

Homeschoolers from WA said...

Thanks for sharing. Our homeschool group is currently studying native americans & have been especially focusing on Pacific Northwest tribes ('cause that's where we live) :)
We live south of you guys a bit, but have red cedar on our land too. We stripped some off a tree (we prayed first, but to the creator of the tree, not the tree) ;) ...but, then I wasn't sure what to do with it. this is perfect! :)
Do you know how they cut it into strips? The inner bark is very easy to strip when it is wet, but it is hard to keep the strips even. Maybe I should cut it instead of ripping it.