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Thursday, September 18, 2014, 8:54 a.m.
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Old World craft

Brooms become way of life for Mountain View couple

By Lisa Burnett

This article was published February 23, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

jerry-lovenstein-of-mountain-view-works-on-weaving-the-tops-of-the-broom-corn-he-has-attached-to-a-sassafras-handle

Jerry Lovenstein of Mountain View works on weaving the tops of the broom corn he has attached to a sassafras handle.

What most might see as something to use to clean up crumbs from last night’s dinner is, to the Lovensteins of Mountain View, their living.

Jerry and Judy Lovenstein have been making brooms for more than three decades.

“[When we started], we didn’t realize that it would be our livelihood for 35 years. We really didn’t have that scope, but it was fun. It was enjoyable to show people, and we were making enough money to live on, so we just continued,” Jerry said.

The couple didn’t grow up in Arkansas, but after they met some folks from the Ozarks area while they were working in Washington state, they knew Mountain View was where they wanted to be.

“Meeting the people [in Washington] was the thing that led us down here. They had a place they were willing to sell, and we could move into the house,” Jerry said. “Broom making intrigued me because it’s a real homestead-type craft, and that’s what we were trying to do when we moved here.”

After he and his wife moved to Mountain View, Jerry was accepted as the broom-making apprentice at the Ozark Folk Center.

“That was a whole program for three months out of the summer where I learned six styles of brooms. They taught me all the styles they were making,” Jerry said.

A broom is more than just your typical kitchen broom, which the Lovensteins also make. Whisk brooms, hearth brooms, cobweb brooms and turkey-wing brooms line the shelves of their workshop.

“I learned as an apprentice, and I’ve made improvement over the years, and I’ve added things, too, like fancier handles, carvings,” Jerry said.

Though Jerry and Judy both can make brooms, it’s mainly Jerry who makes them for their company, Grassy Creek Handcrafted Brooms.

Broom making at the Lovensteins’ house doesn’t involve any modern technology.

“There’s no modern machinery, just a little table that I made and a few hand tools and the old broom press,” Jerry said.

The broom press Jerry uses is from the 1800s.

It typically takes him 45 minutes to an hour to make a kitchen broom, but the smaller models usually take less time.

Before she and her husband went into the broom-making business, Judy didn’t know much about what it took to make the common item found around the house.

“I didn’t think anything about a broom. If you need a broom, you go get one. I didn’t think about what it was made out of or how it was made,” Judy said.

Jerry said he enjoys his craft because it allows him to be his own boss and have the satisfaction of making something with his hands.

“[Broom making] is just a form of history, really. People just need to know where things come from,” he said.

Since the Lovensteins have been making brooms, they said, they have been completely immersed in the craft.

“Once you get involved with it, all of a sudden, you notice more and more things about it,” Jerry said.

“Anytime we watch a movie, if they’ve got a broom in there, we’ll notice it,” Judy said.

More information about Grassy Creek Handcrafted Brooms is available at www.grassycreekbrooms.com.

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