Birch bark is strong and elastic, beautiful and affordable. It is almost impossible to tear birch bark. This unique material is multi-layered. When pressure is applied to the upper layer of birch, the inner layers continue to keep the structure and shape of the material. Because the layers are strongly attached to each other birch never cracks or breaks, if not severely mistreated. Birch bark`s firmness and durability increases in proportion to its thickness, which allows to create various, resistant to deformation, household items. Birch bark is an incredibly beautiful material. It is interesting that each new birch bark layer has a new color. The inner layer is considered the most precious one. It combines several shades. The hints of golden, red, emerald green and orange fill the classic brown color with the whole palette of in-between tints. This makes each birch bark item manufactured or hand-crafted from birch bark unique and special. Sometimes craftsmen combine different layers of the same tree bark. Different texture and colors of birch bark inspire to create an authentic, unrepeatable design.
Birch bark is a very affordable material. Birch is one of the most common trees in Central and Northern areas of Russia. A birch tree is water-resistant, it doesn`t rot. Birch bark is waterproof if several layers are used to make one item. Birch bark is easily flammable and can easily deform if it is exposed to open fire or high temperatures. However, the craftsmen have learnt to use even this quality to their advantage. For example, many souvenirs, toys and charms were even dipped into boiling water to provoke corner twisting.
Birch bark also has antibacterial qualities. Tar is extracted from the birch bark and is later used for medical purposes. It is used for treating skin diseases, rashes, eczema, seborrhea and psoriasis. Medicine containing tar is also used to treat fungal infections. Tar oil is one of the most effective essential oils to treat the respiratory system. Tar was used to treat wounds and burns. Antibacterial qualities remain in the birch bark even after the tar is extracted. These qualities make the items crafted from birch bark perfect for storage.
Birch bark materials are prepared from the middle of May to the end of June. During this time, the bark is well peeled off the tree trunk. Time to prepare and process birch bark may vary depending on the geographical area, place of growth, time of occurrence and the weather during the spring time. The age of the most suitable birch barks for manufacturing purposes is 20-40 years. They have smooth trunks with an average diameter of 5.9-13.8`` (15-35 cm). Birch branches should be located above the middle of the trunk for convenience. The best birch bark is grown in moderately humid and moderately shady environments. Before harvesting the bark, you need to receive an official permit with an indication of a specific harvesting place. The outer layer of birch bark has to be perfectly white. The inner layer of birch bark, which faces the trunk, has different shades from yellow to brown. The shades are unique from tree to tree, and the color palette is never repeated.
As mentioned before birch bark is a strong, durable material. Birch bark was used by our ancestors, who respected preservative and antibacterial qualities of this material. Nevertheless, birch bark products need to be treated with care. In order for birch bark items to serve you a long time and not to lose its attractiveness, it is necessary to perform simple procedures from time to time.
Any heating devices or hot foods should never be stored in bark bread boxes. As mentioned before, the influence of high temperature ruins the structure of birch bark.
Many families love to store their bread in a birch bark box. The bark or wooden bread storage boxes are antibacterial and maintain the fresh air in the bread box. Plastic breadbaskets are completely unsuitable for storing bread, as they do not allow air to pass through.
Birch bark storage boxes do not absorb odors. Its antiseptic properties will prevent the formation of mold. Nevertheless, you should store your bread on a linen napkin or in a linen bag to avoid the spread of excessive humidity inside the bread box. You can also use one more tip: to control the humidity you need to put slices of potatoes or apples in the breadbasket. A piece of apple or potato can be replaced by a small bag of salt.
In St-Petersburg Global Trade House we have a wide range of items made of birch bark. All our items are environmentally friendly, easy to store at home and have a beautiful, authentic Russian design.