I've been making bark baskets from young Douglas Firs for many years, but have only recently managed to get some up on Etsy. I usually get a lot of questions about the process, so here's a photo journal of bark collecting. Next time I harvest, I'll be sure to take pictures of the basket making process, too!

Douglas Fir Bark Baskets by Wild Rose Herbs
Each Douglas Fir used for basket making is harvested with an understanding of deep forest ecology. Clear cut forests are often reseeded with fast growing Douglas Firs, creating a dangerous fire hazard throughout the West. Douglas Firs often shade out slower growing native species and destroy forest diversity. I only cut trees that are crowding out other trees, thus reducing fire hazard and promoting forest diversity. 

This particular tree was crowding out a Cedar at least twice it's age. The fast growing Doug Fir would have shaded out and killed the Cedar if left on it's own, taking away forest diversity. 

After the tree is cut, the limbs are removed as close to the trunk as possible. This limits the risk of bark being snagged on a limb stump during peeling. Once the tree is ready, the initial cuts must be made. The length of bark you decide to cut should be a little more than twice the length of the basket you want to make (since the bark will essentially be folded in half). Make two cuts around the circumference of the tree, and then one long cut running the length of the tree connecting the first two cuts. Make sure your cuts go all the way through the bark and keep your knife handy during the peeling process!

Cuts made, ready to peel.
Loosening the bark. Do this VERY slowly. Loosen bark all the way around "holes" (where branches once were) until the bark "pops" off around the hole.
My small hands work well for peeling, but it may be easier to use a thin piece of wood, butter knife etc. for peeling.

Keep your knife handy, should you find any spots that weren't completely cut.
A crucial point-great care must be taken to loosen the bark around any holes on the underside of your tree. The bark could very easily stick and tear during this time.
Careful.. careful...
Pops right off!

Next time I harvest bark, I will do another photo journal detailing the basket making process!
Here's a few of my latest creations:
Douglas Fir Bark Basket by Wild Rose Herbs

Douglass Fir Bark Basket by Wild Rose Herbs
Bark should be peeled immediately before basket making. You can prolong the time before the bark dries by wrapping it in a garbage bag and storing it in the fridge. This will give you about 2-3 days to make your baskets before it dries out!

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