I am grateful to my friend and neighbor, Suquamish elder, Ed Carriere, for teaching me how to make folded bark pouches, and for giving me his blessing to teach this class! If Ed weren’t so busy teaching for the Burke Museum, researching and making replicas of 2000 year old baskets, and having others documenting his life for publication and in film, then he would have likely taught this class for BARN instead of me. So I am grateful for this opportunity, and for all my teachers!
I want to congratulate this hard-working group of cedar bark pouch makers. Everyone came prepared to work. My hope was that in just a day, perhaps, it would be possible for students to peal their own pieces of cedar from a freshly gathered tree, to learn how to trim, measure, mark, and score those pieces; then to fold and stabilize them into container forms; and lastly to prepare their inner bark strips and then weave a multiple braid to trim the rim. Here are the few pictures of students in process that I was able to take. Sorry about the sideways images, but I’ll just have to work out those bugs later!
Ready to peal.
Successfully removed their bark from the tree sections.
It feels juicy and cool. I provided rummage-sale butter knives to help ease the bark off.
Students made cedar bows to help them mark and score the oval-eye shaped bottoms of their pouches. I learned this trick from a Sept 10, 1984 article in American Indian Basketry Magazine, by Mary D. Schlick. She writes about Warner Jim, from the Yakima Peoples, who tells how he learned to make cedar bark berry picking baskets from his grandmother. He used the bow trick for scoring the bottom which I thought was very ingeneous!
No one cut through their bark pieces. This was a very patient group. I remember messing this part up many a time as I was learning.
One student is making a quiver for a 3 month wilderness trek he will take this Fall. He’s got a good start, and I can’t wait to see it completed, with arrows!
After preparing their ribbons of inner bark, students wove multiple flat braids for trimming the top edge of their pouches.
Many thanks to the BARN for inviting me to teach. I sure enjoyed everyone in this class and thank you all so much for making it possible.
(Photo by Leslie Newman)
Just a day ago, I was in the woods gathering the materials for this class with my husband. And now these sweet young cedars, two needing to be thinned out, and one larger tree needing to be removed from an area too close to a home, these cedars live on! Transformed into art, or berry-picking containers, or perhaps containers of another sort which will carry the story of how the First Peoples of this place have appreciated and utilized the Western Red Cedar for thousands of years!