Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bark Harvest

With the completion of the model canoe, I've decided to try my hands at a few other birchbark crafts but this required scouting for a new bark supply. While up north, I decided to scrounge around some local secret hiking trails to try my luck and source out some birch with the intention of harvesting a small amount from fallen & dead trees only.

While hiking around I came across plenty of naturally downed Birch trees in various stages of rot, including a few large ones. Unfortunately, the quality of the bark had already begun to degrade on these trunks and so I simply harvested small pieces, many of which contained the darkened winter bark that I can use for etching purposes. The largest piece I was able to obtain is a 3 ft long, 22" wide piece that'll serve nicely for other projects.

Here are some pics:

Dead standing and fallen trees

Slicing down with the Mora

Peeling with cedar spud

The bark harvest from downed & rotting trees

I was also able to hook up with another canoe enthusiast who gratefully responded to my Kijiji ad requesting harvesting some bark legally from larger trees on anyone's private property. Paul gratitiously offered scouting on one of his properties up north and together we spent the day searching for bark from various deadfall and standing trees that were going to be cleared for a bush trail anyway. After wandering around and surverying the options, we ended up harvesting from a single tree while being swarmed by the season's unusually horrid mosquito population. The harvesting went slower as planned and the bark didn't "pop" off the tree easily despite the ideal time of the month to harvest...I guess last month's unusually colder temperatures hindered the natural release of bark that occurs during June/July. In the end, I ended up with 2 lengthy panels of 30" wide bark that'll be saved for the full scale build I intend to start later this summer.

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