Raphael studied broom-making 30+ years ago with authentic Appalachian-style makers. He has since interpreted traditional designs with locally sourced woods and other materials. The broom corn he uses is of rare quality, perfect for daily use, imported from parts of the United States and Mexico.
The broomcorn plant was first described in Italy in the late 1500s. Benjamin Franklin is credited with introducing it to the United States in the early 1700s. Broomcorn is a coarse annual grass (related to sorghum and sugarcane) that grows 6 to 15 feet tall. The long fibrous panicles of this plant are perfect for making brooms that have just the right stiffness for good function and are long-lasting.
In his workshop, Raphael has built a hand-winding machine for making his brooms. It maintains even tension so the structure of the broom is strong and solid, with beautifully woven details in combinations of three colours: red, black and natural tan. He makes two types of handles: lathe-turned hardwood or hand-hewn locally sourced maple sapling. Brooms are made in various lengths and styles, as well as small whisks and copper dust pans.
After so many years of making brooms, Raphael says, “I enjoy keeping a traditional hand craft alive!”
Raphael Kerem is also an architectural designer and woodworker. He lives in a historic cheese factory in the Village of Burridge, near Westport, Ontario.