Peter Werner

Straw Brooms

Broom making is a traditional craft practiced by only a handful of people in South Carolina. Peter Werner learned to make brooms at the Folk Art Center in Asheville, North Carolina, where the traditional arts of Appalachia are preserved and passed on to a new generation of folk artists. Peter combines broom making with his passion for rivers, where he collects sticks and driftwood to use as broom handles. Of his work, Peter says, "I think the uniqueness of each of the wooden-handled brooms that I make makes a statement of where I've been in my life."

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Spotlight - Peter Werner | A Natural State
Spotlight - Peter Werner | A Natural State

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Like many traditional crafts, brooms are functional items that have beautiful and thought-provoking qualities. Weaving and sewing techniques attach the broom straw to the handle, while allowing Peter...
Making a Broom - Step 1 | A Natural State
Making a Broom - Step 1 | A Natural State

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Starting. In the first step of the broom making process, Peter prepares the base of the wood handle for weaving. The first layer of broomcorn is attached by wrapping the material with strong cord.
Making a Broom - Step 2 | A Natural State
Making a Broom - Step 2 | A Natural State

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Adding Layers. The broom form begins to take shape after applying "hips" of broomcorn to the base of the handle. Hips add surface area to the sweeping end of the broom, while adding a foundation for...
Making a Broom - Step 3 | A Natural State
Making a Broom - Step 3 | A Natural State

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Weaving. After Peter has securely attached the broom straw to the handle, he begins to weave the base of the straw into a uniform shape and pattern around the handle.
Making a Broom - Step 4 | A Natural State
Making a Broom - Step 4 | A Natural State

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Securing Weaving. In this step, Peter secures the finished weaving with a simple knot. The rough, unwoven parts of the broom straw base are cut off using a bread knife.
Making a Broom - Step 5 | A Natural State
Making a Broom - Step 5 | A Natural State

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Flattening. Brooms come in round and flat shapes. For our camera, Peter chose to create a flat , sweeping end that is more typical of a modern broom. Peter flattens the broom by jumping on it. A vice...
Making a Broom - Step 7 | A Natural State
Making a Broom - Step 7 | A Natural State

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Cutting the Broom. The final step in creating a broom is to straighten out the sweeping end with a pair of scissors, a step Peter calls "giving the broom a haircut."
Broom Handles from Nature | A Natural State
Broom Handles from Nature | A Natural State

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Peter obtains many of his broom handles by collecting driftwood from rivers. Whitewater rivers of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge may yield rhododendron and dogwood, while the flat meandering rivers of...
The Land - The Saluda River | A Natural State
The Land - The Saluda River | A Natural State

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The unique geology of the "Fall Line " forms rocky, whitewater rapids typical of the Blue Ridge on the Saluda River near Columbia, South Carolina. Much of the land along this section of river is...