Preparing Birchbark

The basket pattern is cut from a piece of bark using a square template. With a damp cloth, wet the inside of the bark. The bark should not be soaked in water as the colour from the orange layer will stain the bark. Using a very sharp knife, the orange layer is scraped away. Sand over with medium sand paper. For finishing touches use fine sandpaper.

Flower petal patterns are traced onto the bark with a pencil. First, the center of the basket is marked. From the centre the design is spread, leaving enough room on each side for trimming. The quill work starts in the center of the flower, then the petals, leaves and stems. With a small awl, a medium size needle with a wooden handle, holes are poked and the damp quills are put through one at a time.

When the quill work is done, the bark lining is cut and placed inside the basket pattern using clothespins to hold it in place. The ends are joined together and a piece of trim bark about ½ inch wide is placed over where it joins and is sewn into place with spruce roots. A small hand planer is used to level the basket evenly. Only one piece of trim is used for smaller baskets and two are used for larger baskets.

Two circles are cut for the bottom, scraped clean and sanded. They are then put into place and basted (stitched) in four places. The bottom is put into place and holes are made using an awl. The bottom is sewn on with sinew or spruce roots. This is done until it is sewn completely around. A red willow is peeled and split in half, cleaned, trimmed evenly with a planer or knife and placed around the top of the basket in a coiled shape so that the basket will keep its shape. Clothespins are used to hold this all in place, it is then left to dry overnight. Once dry, it is sewn into place using a thin strip of spruce root.

Two circles are cut for the lid, scraped clean and sanded. A design similar or matching the face of the basket is drawn on one side and decorated with quills. The circles are sewn together using roots and attached to the basket with thin strips of moosehide.