DIY - Birch Bark Covered Books

How to cover books with birch bark
Cleaning the garage has resurrected a few items that I had saved in hopes of someday putting them to good use. One of these items was a big box full of birch bark that we collected about five years ago during a Summer vacation in New Hampshire.

I always knew I wanted to use some of this birch bark to cover a few books. As you all know, I love decor & style and the look of birch covered books on vignettes or on shelves is something that I wanted to recreate.

Covering books with birch bark is an easy project once the bark is clean. As we all know that's usually not the case when you go and grab pieces of bark in the woods.
I think that having the tree bark stored in the garage for a few years was the key to being able to remove all those harsh pieces on the back of the bark fairly easily. And let's not even talk about those pesky little creatures that love to linger in between all those layers of bark.

I went through a couple of trial and error runs during this project, but that's good because you can avoid going through those same mistakes. ;)

In order to make things a lot easier for you, I recorded the entire process and the hubs put the video together. It's rather a lengthy video because I wanted to show you the complete how-to and I think this is something that's better explained by showing rather than telling.
This post contains affiliate links.

Below you can also find the written directions in case you want to give this project a go.

The tools and materials you'll need:



1. CLEAN THE BIRCH BARK

You need to remove all those hard pieces attached to the back of the bark. Some of them are fairly easy to remove, but you will get confronted with some stubborn pieces that don't want to go.
The best tool for this task were my two hands. Really. It's like peeling off an orange. And yes, you might end up with sore hands/fingers for a day.
I also tried to use power tools to accelerate this process. A drill with a wire brush attachment was handy to brush away all those not too hard particles, leaving a clean area to work with.

THE BOOKS YOU WANT TO COVER

I covered five books total. The first three were hard covered books that worked really well for this project. Then, I tried covering smaller books, so I decided to use small soft covered books, but somehow the hot glue and the soft cover didn't bond.

The shiny soft cover was removed, but again, it didn't work.
So, my advice is for you to use hard covered books. Also, it's very important to use hard covers with similar colors found on birch bark... White, brown, etc. Or maybe you can paint the cover's edge, since that's the only part that's going to show.

2. SELECT YOUR BOOK AND THE MAIN PIECE OF BIRCH BARK TO COVER IT

Select your piece of birch bark. Look for special features for that front cover... a knot, flyaway strands on the bark or maybe an interesting pattern that catches your eye.
Don't worry about that piece not covering the entire book. I always tried to at least fit the entire front cover with that main piece of bark.

3. START COVERING THE BOOK WITH BIRCH BARK

Once you're happy with your selection for the front cover, it's time to start the gluing process.

Place the piece of bark on your work table, wrong side up.  Add a generous amount of hot glue to the spine of the book and immediately bring it onto the birch bark. Hold it in place while the hot glue sets.

WATCH OUT! IT'S HOT GLUE... YEP, IT'S HOT!

Continue gluing the front or maybe, the back cover? You decide what looks easier. Sometimes a curly bark has to be glued first to prevent it from getting damaged.

Add a line or two of glue to that area close to the spine and bring the bark over, flattening it in  place.

- Using a scrap piece of wood to hold the bark while the glue dried worked wonderfully to prevent burnt fingers.
Continue adding a line of two of hot glue at a time, you don't want to apply glue to the entire cover and maybe be faced with cold glue that doesn't want to bond both surfaces.

THE GLUE YOU WANT TO USE

I used spray adhesive on the first book I covered and well, it didn't work. It took longer to dry and in the end it both pieces fell apart.
Hot glue and my trusty Ryobi Hot Glue Gun worked like a charm and since it worked, I stopped experimenting with other types of glue. My guess is that a strong, quick drying glue is what you want to go for.


4. FIND SIMILAR PIECES OF BIRCH BARK TO COMPLETE THE COVER

If you're lucky enough to have a big piece of birch bark to cover the entire book, good for you! Go to the next step.
All of my books were covered with at least two pieces of birch bark. This step might take some time because you need to find another piece of bark that is similar to the one you already glued to the book.

I called this step the matching game, because I tried to match the color and the pattern on the new piece of bark to the one already on the book. It sure takes time.
Then, again, you have to glue it to the empty areas most likely on the back of the book.


5. TRIM THE BIRCH BARK

Once the entire book is covered, you need to go and trim all those edges, You want to have straight lines.
Use a strong set of scissors for this task and go all around leaving a small gap between the book's hardcover and the newly positioned bark cover.
The final detail is to round those sharp corners.
And here you can see my first batch of birch bark covered books:

Well my friends, that's pretty much all I did to end up with these gorgeous birch bark books that I'm going to enjoy for years to come!
How to cover books with birch bark

You should give them a try! If you do, make sure to tag me @remodelacasa so I can see your pretty books and share your work.

Hugs,

Cristina


*This post contains affiliate links.





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