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Berea College Brooms Demonstrated at Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea July 19

Wednesday, 07 10, 2013

Gwen Heffner
gwen.heffner@ky.gov
Information Specialist
Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
Phone: 859 - 985-5448 X 230

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea celebrates 10 years as Kentucky’s showcase for the arts during three days of celebration beginning Friday, July 19, when student Jen Salyer demonstrates how to make beautiful Berea College brooms from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the center.

Salyer, of Milford, Ohio, is the student manager in the broom craft division of the Berea College Crafts Program. She has worked in broom craft at the college for three years.

 Photo: Jen Salyer demonstrates broom making  

Berea College has more than a century-long tradition of preserving and creating Appalachian folk arts and crafts. The College Student Crafts Program is one of many labor departments and learning environments in which Berea College students work as part of their liberal arts education. Broom craft has been a part of the Berea College Student Craft Program since 1920, when equipment from a broom factory was given to the college.

Berea College brooms are all made from broom corn. A member of the millet family, broom corn, or sorghum vulgare, is a tall plant with little foliage and woody stocks. When growing, it looks somewhat like sweet corn and produces bristles laden with seeds rather than an ear of seed. These bristles are processed after drying in multiple ways, depending on how they will be used.

Berea College brooms are all made individually, and students learn every step in the process, from shredding the broom corn to the final broom stitching. Some students work in broom craft for their entire college career and become very adept in the techniques required to make the wide variety of brooms the college produces.  Braiding is one of the final steps to the finished product, requiring dexterity, practice and skill, and these braided endings are a trademark of Berea College brooms.

Berea College brooms are regularly available at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, located at 200 Artisan Way, just off Interstate 75 at Berea, Exit 77. The center’s exhibits, shopping and travel information areas are open daily, year-round, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the cafe is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Celebrating 10 years in 2013 with three days of events and activities July 19-21, the center currently features works by more than 650 artisans from more than 100 counties across the Commonwealth. Special exhibits include, “The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea: Celebrating 10 Years,” on display through Aug. 24; and “The Founding of the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea” and “Highlights of the First 10 Years,” on display in the lobby through Nov. 17, 2013.  For more information about the center’s events call 859-985-5448, visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kentucky.artisan.center, or go to the center’s website at www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.