As a long-time fan of the art of everyday things, I was
thrilled to discover a completely unlikely source of inspiration at our recent
Mother Earth News Fair. Hint: If you think brooms are a strictly functional object
designed for the back of the pantry, guess again.
Historically, many farmers grew a little broom corn and
crafted their own brooms to use around the home place. At the Mother Earth News
Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, I met John Holzwart and his
partner Linda Conroy, who are carrying on that honorable tradition with a very
modern twist, proving that art is an approach, not a matter of materials.
“Little John” uses no machinery to craft his rustic brooms,
which are made from all-natural broomcorn and handles crafted from a variety of
materials, from tree limbs to carved sticks, shed antlers to wrought iron and
even guitar necks reclaimed from the landfill. (He will do custom work, if you
have an old guitar or other object you’d like turned into a broom handle.) Every
piece is individual, bearing its own personality and character – which in my book is one definition
John and Linda grew their own broomcorn for a while,
then the business grew to the point that he needed to contract out that portion
of the process. As Grit readers might remember, I grew up in Lindsay, Oklahoma,
the “Broomcorn Capital of the World,” so running into John and Linda at the
Fair was a great reminder of home. His broom-making demonstration drew a steady
stream of interested observers. Since we’ll be returning to Seven Springs in
September 2012, I plan to spend more time observing how he does the actual work
this time, instead of oohing and aahing over these very cool brooms.
Here’s a video interview I did with Linda (owner of Moonwise Herbs and a wise, wonderful woman in her own right) explaining a bit more about the brooms, which
you can order from Little John’s website, and which I
think would make great gift ideas for weddings, showers or the winter holidays.
If you buy a broom, just don’t stick a fork in it – a comment
that will be much less mysterious if you watch the video. :-)