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Heather Besoms

 

 

 

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  Making a Heather Besom.  

 

Mr. Sims demonstrated the making of a heather besom and heaved a bundle of heather from the back of the shed. There were about five bundles remaining from the load he had cut in October. He put on his thick canvas apron and began to give me a running commentary as he worked.

He untied the bundle and began to take the heather one piece at a time, picking the longer pieces to begin with. He stood in a bent position picking with his right hand, placing the pieces across his lap with the heather heads to his left, keeping the heads level. These he held in position with his left hand, and to these he kept adding more working them together to his satisfaction, until he had the required amount. The heather was in a flat bunch and as the side against him was not as neat as the side- away from him that he had carefully watched he gently layed this bunch on his bench-seat with the even side underneath. Mr. Sims would not tell me the reason for this as he wanted me to see for myself.

Then he started again choosing the shorter pieces, reminding me that he wasted no heather. He picked up a smaller bunch this time, holding the pieces against him as before, but this time working the heather into round bunch. This he placed carefully onto the centre of the bunch on the bench. Mr. Sims explained that the small bunch of heather was the secret of good foundation.

He picked out and worked a third bundle in an identical manner to the first flat bundle and this was placed, neatest side uppermost, onto the bundles on the bench. Mr. Sims then carefully picked up the whole together and worked them in circular motion in his lap.

The next stage is to put the bond onto the butt end of the besom head. (The butt is the end where the bond and handle are attached, I.E. the root end of the heather stems). In years gone by the bond was always a six feet length of willow or hazel, but since the Second World War, Mr. Sims has used mainly 16 gauge wire. It is cheaper and quicker to use. The bond is pushed into the butt approximately nine inches from the top and is pushed under seven or eight twigs of heather, away from the body. The rest of the bond is then bent away from the body, round the butt several times and twice threaded throughout the first bend. Nr. Sims then pulled the bond tight by standing with his left foot on the broom head and his right foot against the butt, pulling the loose bond end with a pair of pliers. He then neatened the butt end by chopping of the uneven ends on a well worn chopping block.

Mr. Sims then hammered a nail through the head of the heather besom into the handle to hold it secure.

Copyright P Reeks.     

 
 

 
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