Sunday, January 12, 2014

Nimbus 2000, eat your heart out!

Tomorrow is the first day back to school for my final semester of grad school.

But I don't want to talk about it because I am in denial (can't grad school just be over already?)

Instead I thought I would spend this week's post remembering a lovely trip we took to Nashville, IN over Fall break in October.  We have some gorgeous photos and had a unique experience learning about handmade brooms when we stumbled upon one of about 12 remaining broom artisans in the United States. The pictures didn't quite fit a Facebook album (what are those even used for anymore?) but I wanted to share them, and I wanted to do something to acknowledge last semester without doing a year-in-review post.  I hope you enjoy!

How can you turn down an adventure on a day like this?

We were really looking forward to eating at the Hob Nob but Fall is the height of Nashville's tourist season so there was a line out the door!  Instead we patronized this classy dining stand and were pleasantly pleased.

Immediately after selfie-ing it up like the Millennials we are (though Ben insists we are Generation X.5, not Y), we left the stupor of self-absorption to notice a ... broom store.  We laughed and said "well, obviously we have to go in there." It turns out that Broomcorn Johnny's is not just any old broom store.  It is one of twelve or thirteen remaining artisan broom shops in the USA.  Brian Newton, the shop owner, trained from a man whose family had broom artisans going back generations. He uses tools from the late 19th and early 20th centuries to build these incredible pieces.  Brian was kind enough to let me take pictures and talked with us for quite a while about the art of broom making.  We cannot wait to go back and get one!

"Broomcorn Johnny's" is what people called the workers, often migrants, who came through the area in the late summer to help with the harvest.

Brian explained that he dyes all the broomcorn himself.  These brilliant colors are not easy to achieve, especially considering (for those that are familiar with basic color theory) that the corn starts yellow, which is not an ideal foundation to try to get those cool colors.  And yes, that is lavender mixed with the corn!

The two brooms in the foreground on the left are "round brooms" which were the traditional design until the Shakers designed the "flat broom" in the 1820s.


 These are "Goosewing" handbrooms, a design originally created by the Shakers.

Towards the end of the afternoon we stumbled upon a store that had a bunch of squash for sale.  We were planning to stop to pick up pumpkins on the way home, so this saved us a stop!  We found some strange and unique pumpkins we enjoyed carving later that week with our friends!

The End.


  1. I love the idea of putting lavender in the broom. I'll bet that would make sweeping very relaxing.


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