Bonnie Newsom Birch Bark Earrings
These earrings are made from thin slices of birch bark with a protective coating. They are not just ordinary birch bark, though: they have been bitten to form raised designs on the surface.
Approximately 7/8 in. diameter. Surgical steel ear wires.
Birch bark biting is an ancient tradition among Native American tribes who lived in areas where birch trees were prominent. Read more about this technique below.
Bonnie Newsom, president of Nutalket Jewelry, writes about birch bark bitings:
“Birch bark transparencies are created using the ancient technique of biting birch bark. It is an art form that few people practice today. Aboriginal people living in birch-rich regions practiced this artistic medium as a way to create patterns for beadwork and other types of material culture. The technique involves stripping the bark to a paper thin form, folding it, and biting the bark to create transparent desings in the bark. these designs are visible when illuminated by sunlight or firelight, or they can be seen when accented with wood ash.
“In the early 20th century, anthropologist Frank Speck observed Penobscots biting birch bark as a fireside pastime. I was introduced to this art form by a Penobscot elder several years ago and have worked to develop my biting skills over the last few years. I never force a design on the bark. I choose to let its designs emerge unrestricted. The bark inspires me because no matter how much you ‘bruise’ it, birch bark always responds selflessly with a unique and gracious gift of beauty.”