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broom straws/studio tools

updated sun 18 nov 01


Doug Gray on thu 15 nov 01

Joyce mentioned using broom straws of differing lengths for applying
slip. I thought I'd add my variation on that approach.

I have used a broom straw Hakume brush for years now. Actually, made
one of my own from a bunch of straw grown by my first ceramics teachers
Tom and Ginny Marsh. They grew their own supply, cut and dried it,
saving a stash to replace worn brushes as needed. Fortunately they also
shared. As I recall, when you get the broom straw straight from the
garden like that, there are actually small seeds at the tips, which are
picked off. Uncut, (most store bought brooms are blunt cut for a level
edge) there is a natural taper to the tips of the straw which gives a
softer more delicate brush stroke. I was given a small bundle no more
than 2 or 3 fingers wide, but it has lasted well. I still use that same
brush. The key is to use copper wire to bind the brush together.
Copper doesn't rust and stands up to the abundant amounts of water
present in the studio. I just wash the slip off after each use (well
most times) and hang to dry. It is a great brush.

On a slightly different note, I was shopping at an Indian grocery
recently and came across what appears to be a reed broom, at least my
wife recognized it as a broom she had seen used at one of our Indian
friend's home. The broom is only about 3 feet in length and it is bound
in a round shape rather than flattened as is traditional for brooms in
the US (and elsewhere I assume). There is a plastic cap on the bound
end which also acts as a handle. The bundle is no thicker than my
forearm and the reeds vary in width from very slender to almost one half
inch in width. The edges of the reeds are sharp, like Pompous Grass
reeds, but are still relatively flexible. In any case, for only a few
dollars I couldn't pass it up. I kept thinking what great hakume
surfaces the broom might produce. And although I am not a bigger is
better kind of guy, I know I will never have brush envy ever again
(grin). I have tried it a couple of times already. Granted the size is
a bit unwieldy ( I don't hear myself saying that too often). And it
makes very sharp cuts into the slip and clay surface, but I think it is
a keeper. Is there anyone out there with more knowledge of Indian
culture who could tell me the appropriate name for this broom? And
better yet, do you know what plant it comes from?

Doug, SC
Now that Ivor has told me I don't have to be closeted about my
pyromania, I feel more open to discuss my big broom fetish. Tony, don't
even think that!!!!!!

The Chapel of Art on fri 16 nov 01

> The broom is only about 3 feet in length and it is
bound in a round shape rather than flattened as is
traditional for brooms in the US (and elsewhere I

I guess US witches also drive on the wrong side of the
road too? Round brooms or besoms are their traditional
mode of travel here and I presume they are in the US
too. If you don't believe me, see the Harry Potter
film. I am sure flattened ones would impede progress.

Seriously, in the days when sweeping brushes or besoms
were actually made from broom or heather (depending on
the part of the country), they were round, bunches tied
together with willow. As people grew taller, a handle
was added later (historically) and was naturally called
a broomstick. Gradually the Old English word besom was
replaced by the word broom because itinerant besom
makers and sellers could cut broom on the traditional
common lands...

I can remember them still being made locally as a
child, but my broom (yes, it is parked ready and
waiting...) was not made hereabouts. In the olden days
a new one would be bought or made each year because
they would wear out... Hence the expression "New brooms
sweep clean". One tree-less Christmas, I wound lights
around my besom and stuck it in the window. It looked
really nice. (Now what will Tony say to that? Depends
if he has ever visited Hamburg or Amsterdam... :-)

BTW I think you mean Pampas Grass!? IT got its generic
name from the Pampas or grasslands of South America,
although it is not all necessarily from that region. I
must say Pompous Grass is a wonderful alternative name
for it... It looks dreadfully pretentious planted in
the centre of suburban gardens surrounded by a
carefully trimmed and mown grass lawn...

Janet Kaiser
The Chapel of Art . Capel Celfyddyd
Home of The International Potters' Path
8 Marine Crescent . Criccieth LL52 0EA
Wales . GB . United Kingdom
Tel: (01766) 523570

Martin Howard on sat 17 nov 01

No, they act as good tail plane fins for fast turning at Quidditch!

Going to see the film on Monday as a treat for my 62nd birthday.
Read all the books three (or is it four?) times now.
At my pottery parties Harry Potter and Hogwarts are a common theme, so much
get all the up to date information I can.

Models of Hogwarts will be next on the list I suppose!

Martin Howard
Webbs Cottage Pottery
Woolpits Road, Great Saling
01371 850 423
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