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Birch Bark Hearts


If you've never made paper hearts before, make a few paper ones before you switch to birch bark. Birch bark is brittle and can crack or split. The pictures below are made with red and white paper to make it easier to see, and for convenience I refer to the two pieces as "the red piece" and "the white piece"... though obviously, if they're made of birch bark, they might both be the same color (or thereabouts.) More notes on birch bark at the end of the assembly instructions.

You'll need paper (or birch bark), scissors and glue (Elmer's works great.) If you're using birch bark, it might be helpful to have a utility knife to cut the slots (step 4)

When using birch bark, don't ever take it off a live tree! You could kill the tree.

Don't peel the bark off the wood until (at most) a few days before you're ready to start; when the bark dries out it gets more brittle.  The bark peels in layers. You want several layers together, less the thickness of cardstock but more than paper (thick enough to hold a fold but not so thick it cracks when you fold it.)

It looks great to use two contrasting pieces (one light, one dark - or one pinkish, one yellowish - etc). The inside of the bark is usually darker/pinker, and the outside is whiter/yellower - so if you fold one piece right-side-out and one inside-out, you can get a nice contrast that way.



1. Cut two strips of birch bark (or contrasting color paper), 6" x 1-1/2"

and one strip of birch bark(or colored paper) 6"x 1/4"

  2. Round the corners of the large pieces to make ovals. You can ignore the skinny strip of paper until the end; it will be your handle.
  3. Fold the two large pieces in half crosswise.
4. While folded, cut five to six slits from the fold up to about 1" from the very top. You will have six or seven bands of paper connected to each other at the top, with a fold at the bottom.
  When using birch bark, cut out very narrow slots (1/32" wide or less) rather than just slits; this will give the bark some "elbow room" and make it less likely to tear when you weave it together.
  5. Take the left-most band of the red piece and OPEN the fold slightly. Slide the right-most band of the white INSIDE the red fold.
  6. Then open the white band that sticks out from the end of the red, and place the second red band INSIDE the white.
  (6, cont.) If you open your two pieces right now, it should look like this on the inside. If you can't open your pieces, it's because you're weaving over/under instead of threading them into one another.

7. Continue threading the pieces in and out of each other, alternating which color is "in" and which is "out".

Concentrate on getting the first three bands on each side woven together before you continue all the way to the end of any of the strips. (otherwise it's too hard to manipulate the last few pieces.)

  (7, cont.) The view from inside.
  8. Finish the first three rows of white. Pull the white pieces all the way up to the top of the red cuts.
  9. Finishing the final row - this is the hardest part of assembly. You may need to "balloon" your bands to get them to thread through. Be careful with the birch bark not to crack the bark by bending it.
  10. The finished heart, waiting for its handle.
  11. Apply a drop of glue to each top center band on the inside.
  12. Glue the ends of the thin strip to the insides of the heart. Let dry (use clothespins or paper clips to hold handle to heart while it dries, if necessary)
   The finished heart! Hang from your Christmas tree, fill with candies or pine cones or something.


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