Grit

TRADITIONAL HEARTH BROOM

Sweeping with a handmade broom can connect you to the long history of brooms made out of natural materials, from improvised brooms crafted from broken branches to rural artworks featuring decorative stitches.

I’ve been making brooms for several years, and one of the most common questions I hear while demonstrating my craft is, “What plant material is used for the bristles?” The answer is broomcorn (Sorghum bicolor, also called Sorghum vulgare), which is a variant of the sorghum grown for sorghum molasses. Broomcorn is an annual, and it looks like sweet corn from a distance. Upon close examination, however, you’ll notice it doesn’t have cobs along its stalk — just a large tassel on top, with a swollen knuckle at its intersection with the stalk. That tassel is what you’ll need for making brooms. You can also use other natural materials, but in this article, I’ll focus on how to make a traditional corn hearth broom.

Tools

• Scissors• Knife• Drill• Tensioning apparatus• Large needle, at least 5 inches long• Sewing clamp• Lighter

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