Earlier this week the kids and I had a chance to participate in one of the many fantastic homeschool programs that a nearby museum offers. This class was particularly exciting because we were going to learn how to weave a mat using red cedar bark. So cool!
The above photo shows a coil of bark that had been harvested from cedar trees only minutes from where we live. Members from the museum went out into the forest with a first nations guide and he showed them exactly how to harvest the bark from living cedar trees without damaging them. They had a photo slide for us to view and the fellow said a little prayer/blessing to the cedar tree before cutting into the bark and then they pulled strips of bark off of the tree in giant lengths reaching from the base of the trunk all the way upwards. Once the bark was pulled from the tree they then separated the softer in bark from the rough outer bark and the inner portion was what we worked with :)
When we arrived there were strips of the bark that had been soaked for a couple of days to soften them and make them pliable for weaving waiting for us on the tables.
We started with a very basic basket weave pattern of just weaving the strips in and out of each other while alternating the pattern so it looked like a checker board.
As soon as all of the pieces had been woven we started to work the ends in by flipping them over and weaving them into the opposite sides. It looked really simple when we were shown how to do it but when it was time to do it ourselves you really had to pay attention to which way you flipped the ends because one wrong move and you muddled your pattern *grin*.
We all had so much fun and now I'm tempted to try pulling some of the bark off of a few of the cedar trees we have here on our property *grin*. I think I'm supposed to wait until spring though so that will give me a little more time to find out exactly how to do it so that I don't hurt the trees :)