In early October I went to West Moss-side Farm near Stirling to attend a yurt building course. When I was there I signed up for another class, to learn how to make Christmas decorations and other items with birch bark, roots and twigs. Birch is a native species in Scotland, silver birch in particular thrives in our cool, damp climate and you never have to travel far to find one. So discovering what you can do with the bark of a birch tree was pretty fascinating.
Native Americans long used birch trees to create baskets, wigwam covers, canoes etc. and we were looking at uses in a modern setting - decorations, baskets, jewellery etc. Starting with sheets of bark, stored in piles like paper, we made small baskets and star decorations. Using small strips with holes punched into the ends and layered onto a twig and then dipping in boiling water, created the most amazing spiralling decorations....it was fascinating to watch. We also wove a basket which was the first time that I have tried this and it was fun - quite fiddly, involving lots of fingers and clothes pegs but I was pleased with the remarkably sturdy basket I produced.
As ever, the food, the hospitality and the tutors at West Moss-side was second to none! Here's a few of the things that I made, that will be decorating my home this Christmas.