Personal tools
log in | join | help

Object Lessons: The Autumnal Broom

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Oct 22, 2014 01:07 AM
Editorial Rating: 1 2 3 4 5
Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 0 votes)
by Megan Wilson last modified Oct 21, 2014

The broom, enemy of spiders and friend to witches, has been aiding household cleaning since the dawn of domestic history. Initially made of anything on hand, from reeds to corn husks, the broom as we know it has evolved thanks to the early Anglo Saxons, who turned the craft into an organized trade. Besom squires, as these tradesmen were known, gathered the brushlike twigs of birch trees and bound them with willow wisps around a thicker tree branch, often made of hazel. This gave us the broom associated with witches, complete with crooked stick and untrimmed dark twigs. The modern straw broom emerged in Massachusetts at the end of the 18th century with the discovery of sorghum grass, a local crop previously grown exclusively for animal feed. Long and strong, sorghum was soft enough to be trimmed to a uniform length, which made it perfectly suited for sweeping up fine particles of dust. About 30 years later, the Shakers, with their ever-inquiring minds, took the broom and improved its efficiency by flattening the broomcorn (as the grass became known) to give a wider and more precise sweep. All three styles have their uses today: the besom is preferred for outdoors; the round and flat brooms for indoors. In recent decades, the rise of synthetics put the broom industry into a sharp decline. But of late, the artisanal broom, particularly the Shaker version, has been muscling its way back into our broom closets; here are some notable examples. Five to Buy Above: These three corn husk  Barn Brooms , in black, "tipped," and natural, are made in Pennsylvania by Lostine; $60 each from Minam.  Above: The students at Berea College Crafts, in Kentucky, are trained in Appalachian arts, including broom making; the school doesn't charge tuition and is funded by sales of its creations. The Cottage Broom  is available from Berea College for $43; it's also sold by  Kurasukoto  of Japan for ¥7,000. Above: With its untrimmed ends, the  Cobwebber  (an unwelcome sight for Charlotte, the spider) is most similar to the besom-style broom. These are $29 each at Brenwood Forge & Brooms, in West Virginia.  Above: The Chinese  Bamboo Outdoor Broom  is made in the Shaker style of whole and split bamboo; £14.50 ($23.43 USD) at Objects of Use in the UK.  Above: The Shaker Broom  has a broomcorn head and a pine handle; $40 from Haydenville Broomworks, in Massachusetts. Object Lessons columnist Megan Wilson is the owner of Ancient Industries and the curator of the Remodelista 100, a collection of everyday essential objects presented in the Remodelista book . Watch for her column every Tuesday, and have a look at her past lessons on iconic designs, including Shaker Storage Designs and the Humble Cotton Cleaning Cloth . More Stories from Remodelista Living in Black and White: Commune's New Concrete Tiles Table of Contents: Dark Shadows Current Obsessions: Feeling Moody






Website migration, maintenance and customization provided by Grafware.