Today's postings

  1. [Baren 44981] inadvertent brain switch re:Tomah Joseph ("bobcatpath #")
  2. [Baren 44982] more on birch bark (Pinto Lawrence)
  3. [Baren 44983] Baren Member blogs: Update Notification (Blog Manager)
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Message 1
From: "bobcatpath #"
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2012 17:00:46 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44981] inadvertent brain switch re:Tomah Joseph
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i woke up in the night (full Moon)
realizing that i inadvertently wrote
the Passamaquoddy birch bark artist's name backwards

it is Tomah Joseph

sorry for any confusion

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Message 2
From: Pinto Lawrence
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2012 22:06:13 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44982] more on birch bark
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Dear Bareners,

Thanks to everyone who posted their knowledge and thoughts about the
use of birch bark and the conservation of the trees.

First, in addition to the information posted, I found from a local
person that the Ahnisnabae First Nations Art Gallery in Thunder Bay,
ON ( sells birch bark work by many
native artists. Second, my wife and I found that microwaving the birch
bark in a plastic bag with a little water for a few sec and then
drying the bark under heavy books with blotting paper produces a nice,
flat piece of bark. Pieces 10 x 25 cm are easy to come by but Chuban
sized pieces are difficult to find unless you take a ladder out into
the woods to get them from high up on the trees.

I consulted two scientific colleagues about the proper treatment and
conservation of these trees and I got a really useful answer from
David Goldblum, an Ecologist and Prof at Northern Illinois University,
who is engaged in a Forest Ecology project here in Northern Ontario.
It is appended to this note and says that removing bark that has
started to peel spontaneously is not bad for the tree.

Thanks again, Bareners, for all of the helpful, thoughtful and
sensitive comments,


As you may know the bark of a tree serves no physiological function
other than protection from fire (as a thermal insulator) or perhaps
cold temperatures. Bark is comprised of old phloem cells that are
displaced outward on the stem as the tree grows. So, the bark itself
is dead and does not conduct any fluids in the tree. Thus, within
reason bark can be removed from trees (as is done for wine bottle
corks from the oak species Quercus suber). The danger arises if the
bark is removed too close to the cambium layer (which resides at the
base of the bark). The cambium creates new (active) phloem and xylem
cells which are the conduits for water solutions in the tree (water
from the roots and photosynthetic products from the leaves). If the
removal of bark damages the cambium it would prevent the formation of
xylem and phloem cells functionally cutting the flow of those water
solutions up and down in the tree. If that were done around the
trees entire circumference it would kill the tree (a practice called
ring-barking or girdling) -- damage to a portion of the trees
circumference would not kill the tree but would cut down the water
solution transport somewhat (this frequently happens naturally when a
tree is wounded perhaps by an adjacent tree fall scraping down the
side of the tree). With time these wounds recover however.

Back to your question, provided you are removing the outer few layers
of the already flaking paper birch bark there will be no adverse
effects. I think even if you pulled it off down to the brown layer
(and didn't mechanically gouge into the bark to remove more layers)
there should be no problems. Paper birch (Betula papyrifera) is NOT
an endangered species in North America. If you are removing it in
Ontario (on private property) it should not be a problem. However, it
is likely illegal to remove it from protected areas (provincial parks,
etc.). Based on the "Silvics of North America" website (
) on paper birch they do have a statement about bark removal: "People
vandalize trees along roadsides and in parks and picnic areas by
peeling off strips of the outer papery bark. The trees are seldom
killed but always carry unsightly scars. In areas of great scenic
value, the exposed inner bark can be painted white to disguise the

Digest Appendix

Postings made on [Baren] members' blogs
over the past 24 hours ...

Subject: In Praise Of Ely
Posted by: Andy English

In Praise of Ely is a new 'Fine Press' book designed and printed by Chip Coakley at the Jericho Press, now located in Ely. I am lucky enough to have several Jericho Press volumes on my bookshelves; they are always interesting and well produced. I contributed an engraved press device to "Psalter Collects" (see here). I was pleased to be asked to engrave some small "spots" to decorate "In Praise Of Ely, part of a Latin text that has been translated into English verse by Janet Fairweather (whose translation of the Liber Eliensis is available here).

The verses paint a very pretty picture of Medieval Ely and I illustrated some of its glories with a series of small engravings.

I used a piece of resurfaced Victorian boxwood which I cut into several smaller pieces:

We started the work with a headpiece showing the early cathedral:

[Long item has been trimmed at this point. The full blog entry can be viewed here]

This item is taken from the blog Wood Engraver.
'Reply' to Baren about this item.