Originally posted October 28, 2012
Since the October weather took a turn toward cold, I haven’t been able to complete the mosaic pieces. They’re wating for grout, but it has to be above 60 degrees F for the grout to cure right. Also, my hands get cold and it’s really unpleasant to work outside with wet grout. So, I’m going to show you the handmade brooms which are destined to hang on the Broom Rack.
Two of my handmade brooms from Crystal Ridge Ranch. The bottom one has a handle made from Cedar wood which has been cleaned up with a Dremel tool, sanded smooth, and with a Tung Oil finish. The top broom handle was what I call “Desert Driftwood.” It is a branch from either Rabbitbrush, Three Leaf Sumac, or Mountain Mohagany. When I find the branches on the ground, I can’t always tell where it came from. It is gray, twisted, and has a crumbling surface which has to be removed with the Dremel to reveal the beautiful, durable wood underneath.
Here is a wheelbarrow full of Desert Driftwood. There are potential broom handles, basket handles, and hangers for tapestries in this collection.
Here’s a closeup shot of one of the pieces of wood before it’s cleaned up with the Dremel.
A similar piece after it’s been cleaned and sanded and oiled. Each piece is unique.
This one was definitely Rabbitbrush. It is covered with a fibrous bark when I find it, and as I peel it away and begin cleaning with the burr bit on the Dremel, I always reveal beautiful twist and depth in the Rabbitbrush wood.
This is the root of a Cholla Cactus branch. In the background is another piece, much redder, which is probably Mountain Mohagany, and in the foreground is a bit of the Rabbitbrush. You can see differences in their color and grain, but they all have in common the struggle to grow in a harsh desert environment.
All of these are second class candidates for broom handles because of the curve in them, or a weakness somewhere on them. They will probably become the supporting branch to hang a tapestry or silk painting piece instead.
This picture shows me sorting the broomcorn by the length of their tassels. I grew these on the ranch, with a real bumper crop in the garden a couple of years ago. The sweet corn hardly grew that year during an exceptionally hot, dry summer, but broom corn thrived. Each broom gets 9 – 21 sticks, with the length of their tassels carefully chosen for consistent length appropriate for the length and thickness of the handle. The seeds can be stripped for a functional broom, but I love the look of them on these. It is up to the user to determine if they want to use the broom as pure decoration, in a ceremonial manner, or as a functional tool. I make them durable enough for use.
A collection of brooms, finished and waiting for their Broom Rack to be finished for display at the store! The weather is supposed to get better later this week, so I should be able to finish the grout.