Every Frog Hollow broom is lovingly designed and hand-crafted to be a lasting, beautiful and functional tool in your life.
it starts with
Labor Intensive to grow and harvest!
Broomcorn is a sorghum -- a relative of corn. The long fibrous seed heads provide the material for our brooms. The plants range in size from 4 to 12 feet tall and so must be hand-harvested. It takes forty to fifty plants to make one broom.
Every time I grab a handful of broomcorn fiber, I imagine the labor-intensive harvesting, drying and sorting required, and think about my Great-Grandfather Morris and his family and how hard their subsistence life must have been.
Creating Stunning brooms
Beauty begins with the colors!
This is my favorite part of making your broom--creating the perfect mix of colors. I always wait until I am in an inspired mindset. A wide color pallet of brilliant colors allows for real artistry. I add and subtract until the mix is just right. Then it’s over to the handle supply, where I match the broomcorn mix to a splendid, coordinating handle. Choosing the exact right sewing and plaiting thread to highlight the color mix and handle is the final design step. If it speaks to me, then I know it will speak to you too. Sometimes it’s really hard to put these brooms up for sale…"
Tools we use
Just like Great-Grandpa Morris!
Tying a Broom -- Broomcorn hurl (the bristle portion of the broom corn plant) or sometimes the entire broom corn stalk is tied by hand onto wood handles or wrapped together with twine or wire to make our sweepers, whisks and cobweb brooms. We use two different machines to help us do this winding.
The Tying Table – Brooms tied on this table use Tom and Penny's muscles to tension twine or wire. The wire or twine is on a spool under the working surface of the table and is operated with our feet. Penny works barefoot, but Tom keeps his shoes on! Twine or wire is pulled just short of breaking to ensure the broom is tightly made and will last a long time.
We use the tying table to do the decorative braiding or weaving (called plaiting) at the top of our whisk brooms and at the top of the hurl on our sweepers too.
The Antique Broom Kick-Winder – Manufactured c.1890, many hands have used this winder to make brooms over its 130-year life. The Kick-Winder is used to tension and wrap the wire we use for sweepers and whisks with handles. The broomcorn hurl (ends) must be soaked in water before attaching, or the wire cuts through the hurl as it is tightened.
Our Broom Press
Sewing the broom flat
Most of our brooms feature some sort of hand sewing. The first brooms were besom-style round brooms like our hearth brooms. In the late 1700s, African slaves in the South and the Shakers started sewing brooms flat to increase their sweeping efficiency.
We use this antique cast-iron broom press to flatten and sew sweeper brooms. It was rescued from a yard in Alabama where it was waiting for me to come along. It presses the broomcorn tightly and we use six inch long needles and sewing cuffs to push the needles and twine through the compressed broom.