I had no problems epoxying and glassing the white oak stems on my first kayak.
It would depend on the radius of the bend if you would have to steam bend it or not, but a piece of PVC pipe and a kettle works great for that.
They were 1/4" thick strips.
If you get a stubborn spot a heat gun works pretty well , most of the problems I have seen with oak was the checking of plywood not solid pieces.
I have built bows from oak and used the heat gun , sometime you have to soak it for a few minutes . we made re curves on bows this way . another way to steam simply is a tea or coffee pot wrap your wood in tinfoil and set it where the steam coming out the spout is directed under it.
Ive never used aspen but i wouldnt use poplar.. Its a soft wood much like pine with alot nicer grain in most cases.. I have alot of hickory in storage in arkansas that I thought about trying to bend ..