Friday, January 20, 2012

Making a Broom

When I was at the taxi driver's home I noticed the broom that the daughter was using.  It looked home made.  I asked about it and she said that her uncle makes brooms.  She explained how the broom was made.  I remember when all brooms were made out of straw.  I use a couple of straw whisk brooms for work but at home, other than a whisk broom, our brooms are all synthetic.  I wanted to learn more about the broom making process because there may come a time when we will have to make our own brooms. 

Her uncle buys straw directly from the farmer who grows broom straw.  It's a heavy duty straw and seems much sturdier than if I used the straw from oats or something.  I'm assuming that the straw that her uncle buys is really broom corn, which isn't really corn at all.  It's a sorghum that's grown for it's broom making ability.  It was misnamed "corn" because the stalks looked like corn to someone. 

Anyway, the uncle buys his bundles and then brings it home to dry.  After it's dried he takes a handful and cuts it to length.  He wires the straw to the stick then it's pressed flat and stitched.  She said that he presses it flat by putting it into a contraption that looks like a ladder.  Imagine a ladder with the top step split in two.  The straw end sticks up through the top.  Then the uncle, and his sons, sew several rows of stitches along the top of the broom straw.  Once it's sewn the bottom gets its final trimming.  These brooms will last a long time.

Before brooms were made with the flattened top the straw was bundled up and tied to a stick.  The bundle was round, not flattened out like modern brooms.  Brooms didn't last very long but they were easy to make.  This year I'm going to be growing oats in the front pasture.  I'm going to try my hand at making oat straw brooms.  Looks easy.

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