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.
Renowned Appalachian broom maker Marlow Gates has been teaching broom making at the Folk School every year since 1998. Marlow Gates is a second-generation broom maker, carrying on his father’s tradition of craftsmanship. On September 14, 2020, Marlow presented a talk about his handmade brooms as part of our Appalachian Traditions Discussion series.
Appalachian Traditions Discussion with Marlow Gates
Date: September 14, 2020
Time: 4 p.m.
Topic: Broom Making
Marlow is a second-generation broommaker, carrying on his father’s tradition of craftsmanship in broom making. Rumor has it that he has been tying brooms since he was 5 years old (“bonus points” to any student who brings in the tabloid article from 1977 which verifies this rumor). With a degree in design from North Carolina State University, Marlow now joins his wife, Diana, in creating brooms as functional art at their studio in Big Sandy Mush, North Carolina.\
Watch a recording of Marlow’s Appalachian Discussion talk:
“As Above, So Below”
“May The Circle…”
“Double Bittersweet Fairy Duster”
Appalachian Traditions are virtual discussions with instructors from our master-artist-led series on traditional Appalachian craft. These free, hour-long conversations provide a space for instructors in traditional craft to share their personal stories and discuss their creative process. We’ll explore the historic role of craft in Appalachia, examine its continued relevance today, and learn how practitioners are working to promote their craft and inspire the next generation of traditional makers.
Appalachian Traditions is part of a grant-funded program designed to connect highly-skilled Appalachian craft instructors with present-day students. Although we are not able to hold this series of master-artist-led classes in person, we hope to use this digital platform to celebrate traditional craft and help viewers connect with and learn from master artisans.
Upcoming Classes with Marlow
Appalachian Broom Making and Beyond
March 21–26, 2021
Explore the traditional craft as well as the emerging art form of broom making. Learn to make whisks, pot scrubbers, cobweb brooms, hearth brooms, and full-sized sweeper brooms. Students of all levels are welcome, but moderate hand and upper-body strengths are needed.
To register for this class, please call 1-800-365-5724. Learn more.
Photos from Marlow’s Folk School Broom Making Classes
A Video of Marlow’s Broom Making Proccess
Enjoy a video of Marlow from the Southern Highland Craft Guild created by guild member, Diana Gates.
The Folk School transforms lives, bringing people together in a nurturing environment for experiences in learning and community life that spark self-discovery. Located in scenic Brasstown, North Carolina, the Folk School offers year-round weeklong and weekend classes for adults in craft, art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography and writing.