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DIY Birch Bark Lamps

DIY Projects

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.

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Upper Peninsula Woodsy Wedding

Whimsical Weddings

This off-the-grid Michigan wedding from Kat and Dylan Schleicher of Ellagraph Studios has completely captured our hearts and reminded us why we love a good woodsy wedding. It was a truly Eco-friendly fete with virtually no waste left. The bride, groom, and their families and friends spent months preparing for the wedding, including cleaning and clearing a plot in the woods for their ceremony and reception. Not only the couple, but also some of their guests, spent time camping to get into the festive spirit!


woodsy wedding programs
Nora & Jared, Off the Grid 08.06.11

From the bride, Nora: EVERYTHING was a DIY project. We built our wedding on my brother’s land which is out in the northern forest and it is completely off-grid. We had no power, or running water. We worked on the land for a month beforehand. We built the beautiful elliptical stage, and cleared the large area where we put our big tent. The clearing and road to it, were a neighborhood group effort with the use of tractors and many hours of help by many beautiful people who helped just because they knew it was needed. My husband built the romantic bridge and pine arch that I crossed over to walk up our cedar-bow ‘aisle’. My brother, Mike, built another bridge near the tent that guests could take over to the ‘margarita bar’ which we constructed. My sister-in-law, Erica, and I did a lot of path work, clearing walkways from one magical place to the next. Jared (my husband) and I cleared the trees and scrub for the ceremony site, and all of this took place along a trickling creek.

Nora & Jared, Off the Grid 08.06.11

Nora & Jared, Off the Grid 08.06.11Nora & Jared, Off the Grid 08.06.11

Nora & Jared, Off the Grid 08.06.11

Nora & Jared, Off the Grid 08.06.11Nora & Jared, Off the Grid 08.06.11

We had very little waste, using bamboo plates that are currently decomposing on the land (and should be dirt within a few more months). All other utensils and glassware were gathered from second-hand shops by a few friends and family members. They have been donated back, minus a few that people wanted to keep. My nieces took the reigns on decorating each mason jar (for drinking out of) so that each would be different and identifiable to it’s owner. I bought inexpensive, white towels from IKEA and my maid-of-honor and I hand-dyed them all purple to stand out on the muslin table clothes. Everyone involved with the wedding, now has a few purple kitchen towels in their home.


Nora & Jared, Off the Grid 08.06.11Nora & Jared, Off the Grid 08.06.11

Nora & Jared, Off the Grid 08.06.11
marching band wedding

Nora & Jared, Off the Grid 08.06.11Nora & Jared, Off the Grid 08.06.11

Any advice for brides planning their weddings now? Ask for help, and dole out jobs to people ahead of time. When it comes down to a day or two before, it’s ok to let a few things go undone. It’s no biggie. Savor everything!


Nora & Jared, Off the Grid 08.06.11

From the photographer, Kat: Nora and Jared’s story is very sweet. They grew up together near Marquette, Michigan and were good friends their whole lives. It wasn’t until a few years ago, that they realized they were in love (Jared lived in Los Angeles, Nora on the East Coast). They live in Bend, Oregon now, but when they decided to get married, it was a no-brainier that it will be held near their childhood homes in the U.P. With help from their family and friends they spent one month prior to their wedding clearing space in the woods on the bride’s brother’s land for the ceremony and reception. They actually lived in a little camper in the woods while they re-landscaped the land. Most of the decor and design of the wedding was done by the Bride and Groom, very creative artists/musicians. (This included paths through the woods, a space for the reception tent, a clearing in the forest for the ceremony, a covered wood bridge, a margarita bar). For me, the brass band processional through the forest from the ceremony clearing to the reception tent was one of the most amazing things I have seen at a wedding. Many of the guests camped on the land over the weekend too.


View all pictures from this wedding in the gallery

Wedding Vendors (Michigan):

Wedding Venue: Private Residence in the Upper Peninsula / Wedding Photographers: Kat and Dylan Schleicher of Ellagraph Studios / Wedding Dress: Maggie Sottero “Gatsby” / Wedding Shoes: MRKT / Bride’s Hair Accessory: WeeGardens / Bride’s Necklace: Tissage / Groom’s Suit: J. Crew / Groom’s Shirt: Prada / Groom’s Tie: Sptzbrgn / Groom’s Shoes: Cydwoq / Bride’s Hair: Studio 5 Nineteen (Marquette, MI) / Officiants: Mothers of the Bride and Groom / Wedding Musicians: Bohola / Wedding Flowers: Gille Mills and Marcia Gonstead of Garden Bouquet / Wedding Caterers: Rubaiyat, Randy Hicks (pig roast) and Michael and Terry Walker (tortilla makers) / Wedding Cake: Sister of the groom / Fruit Pies: Gopher’s / Stationery: Bride and Groom / Decor: DIY / Transportation: Checker Transport

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Paloma’s Nest

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