Sandi McNeil has often read that willow bark was suitable for basket weaving, but she could never find any willow that was large enough to peel. That changed last spring when she discovered a clump of willow growing by her pond. Sh knew it was willow as they were growing jumbo pussy willows!
Sandi waited until the end of July to cut the willow trees down. She cut the branches off until she had a small trunk about 5 feet long. Using an awl, she lifted the bark off the thick end of the trunk and started to pull upward. The bark peeled easily with only a few knot holes and no stickiness. It was similar in colour to cedar, but had a different texture. It was thinner than was expected so she did not try to separate the inner and outer bark.
She cut the bark into long strips of weavers and coiled them up to dry. As they dried, she noticed the edges were curling. This indicates shrinkage is going on. There is no way to tell what bark is going to have a shrinkage factor. The shrinkage however, does not prevent the bark from being used, and it gives Sandi another option for colour and texture in her repertoire of natural materials.