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DIY Birch Bark Lamps

I have no words to describe how excited I am to make this DIY project myself. If you loved these birch bark pendant lamps from this truly woodsy Michigan wedding, today you’re in luck. I will leave you with Nora, the bride: Our birch tree lanterns came from an idea that evolved down from hollowed-log lights we had seen in Finland and attempted to make them ourselves.

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DIY birch bark lanternsBirch Bark Lampshades DIY
DIY birch bark lamps

DIY birch bark lanternsBark Lampshades DIY


View all lamps and more images from their wedding in the gallery!

Supply list:

  • twine or fishing line
  • bark
  • utility knife
  • leather punch
  • 60 watt lightbulbs
  • 14 gauge electrical wire and sockets or pendant lamp kits (available at local hardware stores or at Ikea)

Instructions:

From Nora: One of my brother’s neighbors peeled the birch bark off of a dead birch tree he had seen. Jared cut them to the right size we wanted, and using a leather punch he cut holes on each end of the “lampshade”. He then stitched the ends together with twine.

The lamps were wired together along a really long piece of 14 gauge lamp wire, outfitted with 60 watt incandescent bulbs. The birch bark lampshade was then tied to the pendant wire with the lightbulb suspended in the middle.

A few tips:

You can use hot glue instead of stitching the lampshade ends if you intend to use these them for decoration only without lightbulbs. Otherwise the hot glue bond may eventually loosen up with the heat from the lightbulb. If you plan on using this birch bark lampshade tutorial for your home, we recommend using a lightbulb wattage that you feel makes the most sense for the size shade you’ll be using. Birch bark can be found in the woods, and it’s free! If you’re getting birch bark from its natural source, rinse it with water and a splash of bleach before you bring it indoors, and let it dry. Another thing to note is that over time, birch bark will eventually dry out and crack. If you plan on using them for your house, consider applying a coat of acrylic clear matte medium. It’s a water based sealant, and it won’t yellow like polyurethane. If you live in an area where birch bark is not accessible, you can purchase birch veneer sheets anywhere online.

If you’re not familiar with wiring electrical cords, I recommend using pendant lamp kits. Each lamp will be lit independently, which means you could hang each lamp above a table! If you like these lamps but prefer a seamless look to them, you can use nylon fishing line instead of twine. Table lampshades will need a spider top fitter, available at lamp shade part stores like this one.

Using the same instructions + tips, you can use birch bark to wrap containers to use as centerpieces, make napkin rings, and votive holders! We’d love to see what you come up with!

All photos by Ellagraph Studios.

14 Comments on DIY Birch Bark Lamps

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  • 1

    Love these lamps! What a great detail…thank you for the DIY info!

    Reply
  • 2
    Essex Wedding Photographer Just Hitched on February 1, 2012 at 3:07 am

    Wow these look great. I could see these in Habitat! Very unique and original. The tips that people have to create their very own little details are wonderful, keep them coming and I’ll keep sending my brides this way!

    Reply
  • 3

    Oh how lovely! Where do you get the bark if you don’t have any birch trees?
    Tres fantasque!

    Reply
  • 4

    great work !!! Delicate and lovely atmosphere ?

    Reply
  • 5
    JohannaDesign on February 5, 2012 at 4:07 am

    I love them! Thank’s for the inspiration!

    Reply
  • 6

    these are beautiful! Great idea!!

    Reply
  • 7

    Gorgeous lamp, I love that! I have this linked to my lamps & lights post too today, for inspiration!

    Reply
  • 8

    I have never seen anything like this. Where would I get the bark to do this? I guess I could go for a hike….Thanks for the share:)

    Reply
  • 9

    I love this! Absolutely… I am going to try to make one this summer :)

    Reply
  • 10

    I really love this idea for an outdoor country wedding! Your directions are very easy to follow and I like how you used natural supplies that you can get for free!

    Reply
  • 11

    these are so lovely!! I wouldn’t suggest taking bark off a living tree as this will kill a birch tree :( In the forest there are always tons of fallen over and dead birch, the bark would be much nicer and thicker anyway off a dead one! Off to the woods ;)

    Reply
  • 12

    A lamp made out of material which was produced by nature. Great idea and it looks really nice!

    Reply
  • 13

    If you look around in summer (in the woods) sometimes you can get lucky and find a fallen tree that due to the correct balance of moisture/heat has kept the outer bark intact and the inner tree wood has gotten soft. Then all you have to do is lift the piece and gently shake out the inside wood, and voila you have a perfect piece of hollowed out bark. This is nice because you don’t need to sew it, it is already the way nature made it, circular. I find these fallen soft inner wood pieces near ponds, or streams usually in July or August. Must have been a wonderful wedding!

    Reply
  • 14

    love it- I live in the U.P. of Michigan, where birch bark is plentiful (from dead trees only!)

    Reply

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