Watch An Amish Woman Make Brooms (Video)

I have to say I’ve never spent much time wondering how brooms are made. But I still quite enjoyed this video, with commentary by a talkative Amish woman named Ada.

In the video you see her making brooms using a clankety foot-powered contraption as she discusses the ins and outs of her craft.

ada-amish-woman-broom-maker

As Ada works she is interviewed by LaVonne De Bois, who leads tours in Holmes County, Ohio. The clip opens with Ada speaking about a previous broom-maker, a blind man who had passed away. “I just thought somebody should take over the tradition,” she explains.

This must have been an Amishman known as “Blind Syl“, who ran a broom-making business business in the community for decades (the store that Syl founded is now known as A.T.’s Broom and Book Store; that might be what we are seeing here).

Ada explains she is using something called “broom corn”, which doesn’t have any “feeding value” but apparently is just right for brooms. Ada explains that it’s grown in “old Mexico”…”it’s not local”. Apparently it’s cheaper to import it than grow it locally, because of the labor involved.




At one point she comes across some corn she doesn’t like, which is “all broken up and cracked…and the ends aren’t done even.”

Ada also discusses how she’s injured herself on the device, pinching the meat of her palm in the broom wire. “It wakes you up,” she says with a chuckle.

Her bestselling broom? “As of now, the warehouse broom, for some reason.” Ada admits she doesn’t sell too many brooms to the locals, though. “If I would depend on the Amish for the broom business, I wouldn’t have any business.” This was surprising; Ada goes on to explain why.

This is the type of Old World cottage enterprise that fits common perceptions of the Amish, using technology that could have been around 100+ years ago (though in reality Amish use more tech than many imagine). Neat to have a closer look here at a true “hand”-icraft.

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    11 Comments

    1. Tammy Vaughn

      Amish woman making brooms

      Very interesting video. How much does she use to make 1 broom? She could make them when there’s a power outage. Where can I get one?

      1. Getting a broom

        Hi Tammy, I’m not sure how much goes into one broom, but I suppose you can guesstimate going by what she uses in the video.

        As far as getting one, if my guess is correct Ada may be involved with Blind Syl’s former business, which is now known as A.T.’s Broom and Book Store. I linked to it in the post, but here is the info:

        http://ohamish.travelhost.com/listing/a-t-s-broom-and-book-store-52e7e6c8c5a88.html

        3270 CR 114
        Sugarcreek, Ohio 44681
        United States

        Hours

        Mon-Sat 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

    2. Debbie H

      Very interesting. I wish we could have seen to the end of the process.

    3. Alice Mary

      Broom Corn Festival

      I’m wondering, Erik, if you happened upon the annual Broom Corn Festival in Arcola, IL (since you sold books to the Amish in nearby Arthur, IL many years ago)? I know I’ve mentioned it here before–my husband and I weren’t planning on going to the festival around 15 yrs. ago, just taking a ride to Amish country. We happened to come on the day of the broomcorn festival (parade, booths, broom corn making demos—by non-Amish, it seemed.) We learned that the area was (supposedly) the “broom corn capital of the world” (I don’t know how accurate that is anymore, since Ada imports her broomcorn from Old Mexico). Anyway, I noticed over the years since then that Arcola, IL is where the Libman Co. (makers of brooms, etc.) is headquartered. I wonder about the connection…although most brooms with the Libman name seem to be of the synthetic variety these days.

      Another odd aside: back in the 1970’s when my husband and I bought our first house in Chicago, I ordered a number of things from Montgomery Ward–mainly curtains & drapes. When the order came, it included a box marked “broom cutter” or some such thing. I never ordered THAT, and had no idea they even sold that sort of thing…not in Chicago, anyway. Maybe I should have kept it!

      I’d have liked to have seen the finished product—it looked like Ada was making an “old-world-type” round broom (like you see in old pioneer drawings), not a “flat” corn broom like I still use out on my porch.

      Thanks for another interesting post!

      Alice Mary

      1. Very interesting Alice Mary. No, I never came across that festival – I was in the Arthur community for only about 3 weeks one summer, but sounds like the nice relaxing kind of event I wouldn’t mind right about now 😀 . About the Broomcorn Capital of the World title, maybe that was true at the time but the title has since fallen to someplace in Mexico?…changing economics and everything.

    4. Urs

      My grandfather sometimes made brooms, to use in the barn! But he used a different material (branches from the Birch tree). The brooms looked similar to this: http://www.floerken.de/kramerzunft/bilder/besen4.jpg

      1. Interesting, Urs. Those have a much rougher appearance and look a bit like something a witch might ride on!

    5. M.H.G.

      Amish Broom

      Great story, about preserving a wonderful, tradition!
      Old World, Brooms.. have charm…
      Love it!

      (Hope to buy one in the future)

    6. Cynthia

      Ada - How do I contact her

      Ada seems like a very nice woman. I would like to contact her and see if she would like to be pen pals. I know that some Amish do this. Is there any way that you could get me her full name(first and last) and address?

    7. Sharon

      Amish Brooms

      I find everything about the Amish Fascinating.
      I was at an Amish Auction a few years back because our friend use to drive for the Amish in Upstate New York (Finger Lakes) where I live.

      I saw those brooms and how I died to want to get to purchase one. I haven’t thought about it again until seeing this article. Now when I go to the Amish Grocery stores I’ll have to look for one.

      Thank you sharing.

    8. Judith

      I guess that would be a job I could do...

      Well, I finally found something I could possibly do if I became Amish. There is something so peaceful and serene about this scene. I usually do not romanticize the Amish life – I know they have the same stresses we all do, just in a different form. But I have a feeling I would enjoy making brooms day in and day out for the rest of my life, being productive and part of a community – it just seems so comforting in a strange way. Though I am sure she does more than making brooms – that job seems very organic and close to God in a way. I loved this video.