Sunday, July 17, 2011

How to Make Cedar Bark Bracelets

People love to learn how to weave with cedar bark. Making a cedar bark bracelet combines the activity of creating something fun, and showing off their creation.

Making a cedar bark bracelet helps people learn how to handle bark as they weave it, the importance of keeping the bark wet and the value of cedar bark as it was to the Northwest Coast peoples.

Weaving is one of the most ancient and traditional form of Northwest Coast indianuity. Cedar bark is a very versatile fiber that provides a creative medium to form baskets, mats, hats, jewelry, clothing, place mats, flowers, and rope to name a few.

This project is a practical introduction to cedar bark weaving for anyone with no weaving experience. Participants will also be able to understand the basic vocabulary of weaving.

• Weaving — The process of forming a basket or in this project a bracelet by interlacing strands of bark, by a technique called plaiting.
• Warp — Strands running lengthwise. The warp is cut prior to beginning the weaving process.
• Weft — a strand that is weaved through the warp strands.

Difficulty Level: Easy
Approximate Workshop Time Period: 90 - 120 minutes a period.

Things You'll Need:

Included with the cedar bark bracelet weaving workshop you will find:
sharp scissors,
paper clip or clothes pins,
1 - 24" x 1" strip of cedar bark,
1 - 84" x 1/4" strip of cedar bark (7 feet long),

Black markers,
Tape Rulers,
Towels, and
a plastic bucket of water.

Soak your bark in a bucket of plain water for at least 10-15 minutes.
Towel dry.

Measure from one end of the 1" strip and make a mark with a permanent pen or marker the 8", 8 1/2", and 9" positions.

Pick a size, 8, 8 1/2 or 9 inches and roll the end over to form a circle, lining up with one of the marks.

Clip with a paperclip or clothes pin after cutting the tails.

Cut the width of the remaining length into four tails (or warps). Start at the other end, careful not to cut the core, cut the length up to the mark in half, and then cut those two lengths again in half. You will have made four tails by three cuts.

The 1" cedar bark strip should now resemble a fiddle head.

To start weaving in the 1/4" cedar bark strip. 
Place one end of the 1/4" strip between the tails and circle of the bark, also called the shed, leaving about a 1/2" sticking out. The shed is the space, not in the inside and not outside, between the warps and the core.

Weave the bundle of cedar bark through the circle and tighten.

Now lift the second and fourth tail (properly called a warp) and weave the strip through. This is called a checker board weave.

Fold the bark over the edge of the circle and through the circle on to the next row.

Now lift the 1st and 3rd warp and weave the strip through.

Continue, alternating over and under for each row. If the previous weft strand went under the warp strand the following row will begin by going over the warp.

When the end is reached, take the needle and thread the 1/4" strip into it, and pull the strip between the bark beside the beginning strip that is sticking out.

Trim of the beginning and end of the 1/4" strip after tightening.

Weave the ends of the four tails back into the 1st and 2nd rows.

Trim tails.

optional: Thread a button and sew onto bracelet. Use lots of thread, then knot and cut excess thread off.

Place on your wrist and admire your hand woven cedar bark bracelet.

This how-to-instruction is also posted on my website with photos of each step.

Extended Lesson
This project can be expanded to challenge the creativity of the participants by using colored bark, or by making the weft and warp threads thinner and the designs more detailed. The over-under sequence from row to row can be altered from every other warp to every second or even third warp to form regular patterns.