* Stick for the handle; diameter one inch (1″) or less
* Nine to eleven (9-11) stalks of broomcorn
* Four to five yards (4-5 yds.) strong twine
* One long, large eyed needle or wire
* One three quarter inch (3/4″) nail (or drill)
* Eighteen inch (18″) piece of twine tied to form tie-off loop
* Six feet (6′) of twine, cut into two foot lengths
* Hammer, Tying block, Sharp knife
Gather your materials. Make a ‘tying block’ by whittling the middle of a foot
long, (12″) (very straight and smooth) limb. This should look rather like an
hour glass, when finished.
Start by preparing the handle. Drive the nail or drill a three quarter inch
(3/4″) hole through the handle, some three inches (3″) from where the broomcorn will be attached to the handle. Fasten the twine to this nail or hole. Wrap the other end of the twine around the center of the tying block, leaving a few feet of twine stretched between the block and the handle. Traditional besoms had a ‘knob’ on the broomcorn end.
Broomcorn has three sections: stalks, brush and knurl. (The knurl is the
junction between the stalk and brush.)
Trim the stalks to six inch (6″) lengths. Place the broomcorn, (stalk down) into hot water, covering both the stalks and knurls. Let soak for ten minutes. (10 min.) Remove the broomcorn from the water, drain off the water. Place the tying block on the floor.
Place your feet on the tying block and pull the twine taut. (Use both hands on the handle.)
Place a stalk of broomcorn next to the handle, next to the nail or drilled hole.
(Have the knurl directly under the twine.) Twist the handle so that the twine
binds the broomcorn to the handle. Pull rather hard, so that the twine forms a V-shaped depression in the stalk of the broomcorn.
Roll the handle back slightly. Place a second stalk of broomcorn next to the
first one. Twist to bind both stalks with the twine. Pull to for a V-shaped
depression. Continue with the broomcorns, until you have covered the handle. Be sure to use an odd number of stalks, so that the weaving will come out properly.
After all of the stalks are bound to the handle, pull and wrap the twine around the stalks five times.
Begin the weaving of the stalks by placing your thumb on the twine and releasing pressure on the tying block. Raise one stalk, run the twine under it. Skip the next stalk and run the twine under the stalk after that. Remember to pull the twine taut. Continue all the way around, and as far up the stalks as you desire. (Leave an inch or so, to turn under.)
With the eighteen inch (18″) long piece of twine, fashion a ‘tie-off loop’. Do
this by tying the ends together.
If you are going to turn under the stalk ends, do it now. To tie off the twine,
place the tie-off loop next to the last stalk that the twine went under. Turn
and wrap the stalks five more times, being sure to go over the loop, leaving
the loop end free, Use your thumb to maintain pressure on the twine. Cut the
twine loose from the tie-off block, about six inches (6″) from the broom. Thread the cut twine through the tie-off loop. Pull the loop to bring the twine end under wraps on the broom, and to pull the tie-off loop free.
If you did not turn under the stalk ends, take the knife and trim the stalks to
about a quarter inch above the twine.
To make the ‘spread’, wrap twine, about midway around the brush, four times. Do not pull too taut. Do this again, about an inch above, and then a third one, an inch above that.
Thread the large eyed needle with a length of twine. (You can make a ‘needle’
out of a length of wire, looped at one end.)
Knot the free end to the top ‘spread’. Thread the needle through the brush
(about an inch from the edge, pass it over the front spreader twine, go over the broom three quarters of an inch, and thread the needle back through. Do it on both sides. At the end, reverse and do the same going the opposite direction. (Forming X stitches.)
Tie off. Do the other two spreaders the same way.