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Swept Away by Broom Making

by Cory Marie Podielski on January 26, 2014

in Basketry, Brooms & Chair Seats

Marlow Gates

Broom Making Instructor Marlow Gates and his students by the outdoor pavilion next to Rock Room.

Whatever your abode, castle or cottage, you most likely have a broom in your home or hanging on your hearth. From besoms and cobweb brooms to more modern flat brooms and whimsical sculptural objects, brooms are important cultural symbols used for decoration and ritual, as well as functional tools. At the Folk School, we have both week-long and weekend classes for you to explore the rich heritage of broom making with renowned artisans.

Marlow Gates (photo courtesy of Friendswood Brooms)

Marlow Gates (photo courtesy of Friendswood Brooms)

Marlow Gates is a second-generation broom maker, carrying on his father’s tradition of craftsmanship. In his class, Appalachian Broom Making and Beyond, start with a basic cobweb broom and move on to explore various forms including small whisk, full-sized sweeper, and double broom designs.

Marlow has been teaching at the Folk School every year since 1998. To see a variety of his designs, stop by the JCCFS Craft Shop or check out Friendswood Brooms. Marlow also gets major pop-culture props for designing the brooms for The Harry Potter Theme Park.

Enjoy making floor sweepers, fireplace brooms, cob webbers, kitchen brushes, and/or whisks in Lenton Williams’ class: Broom Making – Appalachian Style. After studying box making at Pleasant Hill Shaker Village in Kentucky, Lenton became interested in Shaker history, including broom making.

Student working on their broom projects in the Rock Room Studio.

Students work on their broom projects in the Rock Room Studio.

No time for a full week of broom making? Come enjoy Lenton’s weekend class, making small Appalachian-style brooms and kitchen brushes. Lenton also teaches a popular Shaker Box Making class during Shaker Week.

Glen McClean (proprietor of Wonky Wood Works) and Carole Morse (artist-in-residence at the Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center) team up in May to teach Brooms – Decorative and Useful. In this class you will enjoy making a variety of round and flat brooms, besoms, kitchen brushes, and whisk brooms. By introducing colored broom corn and unusual handles, your creations can be functional art.

Handmade Plaited Appalachian Cobweb Brooms by Mark Hendry (Photo courtesy of Organic Artist Tree)

Handmade Plaited Appalachian Cobweb Brooms by Mark Hendry (Photo courtesy of Organic Artist Tree)

Mark Hendry specializes in crafting art, such as brooms, using organic materials. He is currently a director and resident artist for Organic Artist Tree in Blue Ridge, Georgia. In his weekend class, A Weekend of Appalachian Brooms, learn to fashion and harvest natural wooden handles and weave fresh broomcorn into cobweb, full-sized sweeper, and hearth brooms, both functional & fanciful.

During Shaker Week, explore two crafts for which the Shakers were known – basketry and broom making. In Shaker Baskets and Brooms with JoAnn Kelly Catsos, weave the quintessential Shaker basket, the cathead, then make a Shaker-style flat broom.
In 1999, Jo Ann was honored to have an ornament on the official White House Christmas Tree. One of her sewing baskets is in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Carole Morse and Glen McClean

Carole Morse and Glen McClean

2014 Broom Making Classes at the Folk School:
Appalachian Broom Making and Beyond with Marlow Gates (Feb 9 – 15)
Broom Making – Appalachian Style with Lenton Williams (Mar 9 – 15)
Brooms – Decorative & Useful with Carole Morse and Glen McLean (May 11 – 17)
A Weekend of Appalachian Brooms with Mark Hendry (Aug 1 – 3)
Appalachian Broom Making and Beyond with Marlow Gates (Sept 7 – 12)
A Broom Making Weekend with Lenton Williams Friday (Oct 24 – 26)
Shaker Baskets and Brooms with JoAnn Kelly Catsos (Nov 16 – 22, Shaker Week)

 View our Broom Making Pinterest Board for more inspiration.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary Nash June 5, 2016 at 11:16 am

Hello how are you hope all is well.I was checking to see if you still had some broom making classes.Please let me know I would love to come and learn about broom.I do have a kick winder broom machine Thank you


Melinda James June 6, 2016 at 10:10 am

Thank you for your interest in Broom Making classes at the Folk School. The Folk School has Broom Making classes throughout the year. Please view our
eCatalog to see the Broom Making schedule for 2016. Any further questions, please call our registration office at 1-800-365-5724.
Hope to see you at the Folk School one day!


ROSE MARIE WILSON July 9, 2015 at 1:51 am



Melinda James July 13, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Hello Rose Marie,
We do have a class for Shaker Baskets and Brooms with instructor, JoAnn Kelly Catsos, November 8 – 14, 2015. You may visit our website to search for classes, information and register here or you can download an eCatalog here If you need more help, please call the office at 1-800-365-5724. We hope to see you in November at the Folk School.


Sally Jackson October 27, 2014 at 3:02 pm

I am looking for someone to repair a fireplace broom with a wrought handle. Do you know of anyone in Middle Georgia?


Cory Marie Podielski October 29, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Hi Sally, I would ask Pattie Bagley, our Resident Artist in Brooms if she has any recommendations: Good luck!


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