Beaded Birch Bark Earrings
These lightweight, colorfully beaded earrings are made by Anne Jennison (Native American Storyteller, Artisan, Historian, and Museum Interpreter). Anne uses the bark from the white birch tree (Betula papyrifera), also known as the paper birch. The birchbark for Anne's earrings is not harvested from living trees. For 12,000 years white birch bark has been used by the Abenaki peoples of the Northeast Woodlands for an amazing variety of purposes.
Extraordinarily waterproof, white birch is traditionally used to make durable, lightweight canoes, while large sheets of birch bark were also used to layer over the outside of Abenaki homes as shingles to protect them from the rain and snow. Birch bark was also used to make basket-like containers, water pails, baskets, food dishes, cups, ladles, bowls, trays, cooking pots, arm guards, quivers to hold arrows, baby carriers, personal ornamentation, and numerous other useful products. Nowadays, beautifully constructed and decorated birch bark baskets are still made by Wabanaki artisans - and are considered collectors’ items.
A material with many valuable properties, birch bark can also be used medicinally. White birch bark, leaves, and twigs can be made into poultices or teas to treat various health issues. Historically, birch bark was also used to splint broken arms or legs. Antibacterial, antimicrobial, & anti-inflammatory, the medicinal value of the white birch is still widely recognized today.
Czech glass seed beads, considered to be some of the finest seed beads manufactured today, are used to decorate these earrings. Glass seed beads first became available to the Abenaki and other Northeastern Native American tribes about 500 years ago, when European explorers and Basque fishing vessels made some of their earliest exploration and trading exchanges on the Northeast Coast of the North American continent. Their trading partners were the Native peoples of the regions now known as New England, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Quebec. Those first trade beads were blown-glass beads that were manufactured in Venice, Italy - which is still famous for its glass making.
Anne will provide the birchbark, beading floss, beading needles, beeswax, earring wires, and glass seed beads in a variety of colors.
BUT - to enhance your experience at this workshop:
** If you have your own size 10 or 11 glass seeds in a favorite color, be sure to bring them with you.
** Please bring a beading mat or cloth dish towel to keep your beads from rolling all over the work table!
** If you have an awl, please bring it.
** If you can scrounge up a small piece of wooden board (4" x 4" to 6" x 6" ish) to protect the table from your use of the awl - please bring it!
** If you own a pair of small, sharp scissors (like embroidery scissors), please bring them.
$30 for Members-$40 for Non-Members. Become a Member on the day of the class and receive $10 off.
Anyone who wants to come must register in advance. There is limited seating so don't wait to call, 603-456-2600.
Sponsored by: New Hampshire State Council on the Arts @ https://www.nh.gov/nharts.