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.
- twine or fishing line
- 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)
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.