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Fall Decor using Cotton Stems and Birch Bark

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Cotton Boll and Birch Bark Fall Decor Wall Art

This DIY ribbon made using real birch bark is unique and the birch bark is so pretty.   Birch bark is so beautiful with its bright white patterns and texture, its perfect for fall decor.

This fall decorating idea using birch bark and cotton bolls can be made with purchased materials in a few minutes.   If you’re interested in how we harvested the real birch bark for the ribbon, I am sharing it after the cotton stem arrangement.

Fall decor with cotton stems and natural birch bark

This arrangement is super easy to put together.  The background is purchased at Michael’s, but you could use any plain white background you like, handmade wood frame or a refurbished painting, repainted with simple white paint.


You will also need one cotton stem, birch bark, and a glue gun.

Birch Bark for Ribbon

Birch park is available in craft stores and Amazon,  the purchased strips are wider and more uniform than these, but I saved my larger pieces of birch bark for other projects and cut scrap pieces of birch bark into long 1 1/2″ wide strips for the birch bark ribbon.


Strips of real birch bark cut into strips for making a birch bark ribbon for fall decor.


Super Simple Cotton Stem Arrangement

My cotton boll stem is quite large, so I only used one stem.  Just like the birch bark, you can purchase cotton stems, but if you want to make your own here is my tutorial for DIY cotton stems.  If you make your own cotton stems they only cost pennies to create.

Gather the cotton stem(s) and wrap with one piece of birch park.   Glue the cotton stem to the background in several places where it will not show.  Let cool.

Wrapping a cotton stem in birch bark for fall decorating.

Adding the Birch Ribbon

Using a piece of birch bark about 8 inches long fold the two ends towards the middle and glue in place. Flip the birch over so the seam is at the back.  Repeat with the second piece.  Let cool and then glue them to the backdrop covering the stem.

Beautiful birch bark being made into a birch bark ribbon for fall decor.


Take two  5 inch strips of birch bark and cut a V-shaped notch in the bottom.  Place these under the birch ribbon to resemble ribbon tie ends.  Glue in place.

Use a 3-inch length of birch bark to make a central loop.  With the dark side facing you, glue the birch to the back side of the birch ribbon.

Making a ribbon for fall decor using natural birch bark.


Wrap it over the top, trim, tuck under the other side and glue in place.  I am loving this ribbon with the pretty white bark.


The birch bark isn’t too rustic in this arrangement, the bow softens the look.

Birch bark ribbon for fall decor. DIY fall wall art idea with cotton stems.

Harvesting Birch Bark

There are tutorials online about harvesting bark from living trees, but personally, I am way too much of a tree hugger to ever try it.  Instead, this birch came from Hubs son, he was sweet enough save the birch for me from a dead snag he had to cut down for safety reasons.    I took several lengths of the trunk and all the tree branches.

Start by scrubbing the wood down with a brush and sudsy water.  Let it dry.  Remove the bark outdoors or in the garage in case you have bugs.   We didn’t have any.  Let the bark dry.

Using fresh birch firewood for harvesting birch bark.


Assess your piece of wood, you won’t be able to harvest the bark around the branches or large knots.  Figure out where the best patch of bark is and start cutting with a sharp utility knife.  You want to push the knife deep enough that it goes through both the paper-thin outer bark and the thicker layer just beneath it.

A side viewof birch log showing the tree layers.


Once you have cut out the outside edges of your piece of bark, you can start pulling it away from the wood portion.


Harvesting birch bark by pulling the outer birch bark away from the wood.


Its surprisingly easy to separate, but be careful not to tear the birch bark.  If you have a section that is harder to remove, use your utility knife and carefully cut and pry the bark off.


Cutting birch bark off of a birch tree for fall decorating ideas.


You will end up with a piece of bark that still has the second layer attached to the underside.


The underside of a piece of real birch bark.

The bark layer is easy to remove, you just carefully snap it and pull it off.   The only way I can think of to describe it, its similar to snapping fresh peas, and takes about the same amount of pressure.  Snap the bigger sections and pull it off your bark.

Preparing birch bark for fall decor crafts.


This is the piece of birch bark I ended up with from one piece of wood.   It’s about 10 by 12 inches in size.  I may need to soak and flatten it for other projects,  but this isn’t the piece I used for the ribbon.  I got other plans for this piece.

Large piece of harvested birch bark for fall decor.


Let me know if you’re going to try harvesting your own birch bark, or will you buy it.   Please comment if you have any questions.


DIY Birch Bark Ribbon Tutorial


Related Posts

In case you’re in a very frugal mood, or your like me and love DIY creativity, here is a tutorial on making your own realistic cotton boll stems.  It’s fun, frugal and easy enough to do with children.

diy cotton branches, cotton pod, diy cotton stems, diy cotton bolls

Realistic DIY Cotton Boll Stems


How to make fall decor with fresh birch bark.```

How to harvest birch bark and use it in fall crafts

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  1. Where can I get the adorbs pumpkin printable in the cotton and birch vignette?

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      I think it comes from Pier One.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi, I am very fond of birch as well. My decor style isn’t rustic but using the birch bark as a ribbon made this fit right in.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi my friend. You will find the birch bark surprisingly versatile. It has various layers you can remove to make it more pliable or leave it as is for strength. I really look forward to what you create, I love your work.

  2. This is such a great idea, love it. Your display looks great.

    Enjoy your day


    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Cindy. I enjoy layered paintings like that. I am still enjoying my granddaughters and the last days of summer. Its been a great week, I hope yours is as well.

  3. Gosh I love your Fall cotton stem with birch bark bow art. So unique and pretty! I had no idea you could order birch bark online. We had to cut down our birch tree a few years ago and the cut branches are in the wood pile. Guess what I’ll be doing soon?

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Nice!!!!! I want to see what you will create with it. You can buy birch bark online but as always free is so much better.

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