Displaying your cherished photographs in natural picture frames is a great way to bring the beauty of nature indoors. Birch bark is a very versatile material for making such frames because it has notable preservative qualities. The bark can be safely stripped from fallen or dead trees rather than from live ones. Making birch bark picture frames is a very quick and easy craft project. You can use it to complement the rustic look of your own home or give it as one-of-a-kind gifts to your nature-loving friends.
- Prepare the birch bark. The best kind of bark to use for craft projects such as this comes from the paper birch. It may be gathered all year round but the best time to collect this is between March and June. Make a vertical slit, about two feet long, down the trunk of the tree and peel off the bark. Once you have gathered enough for your project clean and soak it for some minutes to make the bark more flexible. Brush away the dirt from the bark using a brush with stiff bristles. Wash the pieces with mild detergent and warm water to remove any parasites or insects living in its recesses. Rinse the bark thoroughly and leave it in the water for an hour. Get the bark pieces and lay them on a flat surface, preferably on top of a mat or old newspapers. Allow the pieces to dry completely under the sun.
- Make the frame. Because birch bark can be fragile, it is better to attach it on an existing picture frame. Simply buy an inexpensive unfinished frame and remove the glass. Sand the wood lightly to smooth out rough edges or imperfections. Using a glue gun put a thin layer of melted glue on the surface of the frame. Choose well-shaped pieces of dried bark and place them on the hot glue to cover the wooden frame. It is okay if the bark pieces overlap with the edges of the frame. Allow the hot glue to dry completely before trimming the bark to clean the edges. You can use sharp scissors to cut the excess bark.
- Put the finishing touches on your birch bark frame. To personalize the frame, you can add more natural elements by gluing on twigs, small acorns, and dry leaves on the surface of the bark. You can get great ideas for designs off of the Internet. Once all the bark and decorations are in place, spray the frame with clear sealer or glossy polyurethane. This will preserve the birch bark frame and shield it from moisture or too much drying. Allow the sealer to dry overnight before putting the glass back in the frame.
If you have collected too much birch bark, you can store it for later
use. Simply lay out the bark pieces on a flat surface and weigh them
down with any heavy object. This will keep the bark from curling up. You
can store bark pieces for several months and they will still be okay
for use in your next craft project. To restore the bark’s pliability,
just soak it in warm water or steam the pieces over a fire.