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Arts and Crafts

Friday, June 15, 2012

Broom Straw Art History

Brooms were originally called besoms and were actually nothing more but a bundle of twigs taken from the broom shrub which grew in the wild, tied together to and around a stick and looked like the brooms we at present associate with witches.

The craft of making decorations and other useful items out of broom straw on the other hand, has been around since thousands of years. Left over straw was used for making dolls, wall or personal decorations, and for roofing houses.

The besom did a poor job of sweeping, but it was better then nothing and when Benjamin Franklin obtained a seed of the broomcorn brush, he planted it. The first broom made of this corn straw in the U.S. was created in 1789 by Levi Dickenson who was a farmer from Massachusetts and he soon began manufacturing them for a living.

The shape of the round brooms changed to flat when in 1878 the broom press was invented by Shakers and although we still use and buy those today, we tend to gravitate more towards the rectangle push and pull brooms with the short, synthetic bristles.

Either way, if you use a broom made out of broom straw, don't throw it away when it needs replacing; the straws are still great for all kinds of craft projects!

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