We are the second generation in our family to explore brooms as an art form. Brooms as art were stifled in their infancy by the invention of the broom machine in the 1850s. At that point, the plain wire wrapped, dowel handled broom became the standard. Until recently, there have been no professional broommakers, only machine operators.
Using natural wood handles and broomcorn, we make each broom by hand with techniques that date to the 1790s
Diana prepares the handles by shaping, carving and sanding each one by hand. Marlow then ties the heads on the handles in an intricate hand-woven Shaker design. We both share in the design, sewing and finishing of each broom.
Freed from the constraints of the machine, we are investigating shape, size, color, texture and the other fundamentals basic to any art form. We continue to draw inspiration from the teachings of my father, mentor, and master broommaker, Ralph Gates.
Ralph truly was a master craftsman and considered by many to have pioneered Brooms as art.
Each broom is a unique, functional piece of sculpture, incorporating traditional Appalachian strength and longevity.