Pine Needle Hand Brooms, from left to right: fresh green needles, needles that have dried indoors after about three weeks, and fully dried brown needles. Photo: Fala Burnette (Wolf Branch Homestead)
Brooms can be made from a variety of material such as broomcorn sorghum, straw, and plastic. Ones that are full-sized help us keep the home clean and tidy, but what about the often overlooked hand brooms? These miniature brooms help us clean small messes, such as ash around the fireplace or sawdust on the tabletop in a workshop. A dual-purpose hand broom can be made easily from collected Pine needles, that can not only be functional, but decorative as well!
We enjoy making our hand brooms for holiday decor, with fragrantly fresh green needles pairing well with the Christmas season, and dried brown needles being the perfect color for Fall and Thanksgiving. Keep in mind, green needle hand brooms kept indoors will dry out and shrink after about 2 to 3 weeks, losing their coloring. Dried needles will be your best bet for a functional hand broom. Use caution, and keep your brooms away from any heat source, such as a heater, fireplace, or wood stove.
It takes only three things to make these hand brooms: pine needles, scissors, and twine. Alternating the color of your twine to your liking for a personal touch is a great idea, but for this example I have used a basic tan jute twine made from natural fibers.
Step 1: Collection
The species of Pine trees vary across the world, but our area commonly hosts the Loblolly and the Longleaf Pine. You'll want to collect needle clusters at least 8 inches long for this project (so for instance, a species such as the Virginia Pine with a short needle length of 1 to 3 inches would be unsuitable). Dried needles are easily collected with a rake from the area surrounding your trees, especially during the Fall. For green needles, if you know someone who may be harvesting Pines for lumber, you may be able to collect them then. However, the responsible method is to simply check under the trees after a good wind, and clusters of green needles not strong enough to withstand it are often found then. You will have to strip the needles from the branch if they are still attached.
Step 2: Organize
You'll want to your needles to be in small groups still attached by the needle's "fascicle sheath" at their base. Loose, singular needles are more likely to fall out of the broom. Face all your needles in the same direction, and line up the base of the the needles evenly. Holding the needles all together, you can give them a bit of space in your hand and pack them into the palm of your other hand so that all of them are even at the end. This allows for all the clusters to be wrapped tightly together on that particular end, which prevents pieces from falling out, while also adding to a cleaner look.
Step 3: Wrap
A simple slip knot can be used to allow a tight base loop closest to the sheath of the needles, which allows for an easier time wrapping the needles the remainder of the way. When using Loblolly needles, a segment of twine about 6 feet long was needed to wrap one hand broom the desired length. You'll want to bring your wrapping tightly at least halfway down your group of needles, which supports the area that is to be held in the hand along with tightening your cluster of needles closer together for effective and practical use. Finish the wrap with a tight knot that will not slip.
Step 4: Trim and Finish
The easiest step of the process is to finalize the hand broom by using a pair of scissors to neatly trim the other end of the cluster considered the bristles of the broom, snipping off the ends to an even and uniform length straight across. From here, you are able to decide whether your piece will be for decoration or functionality. Again, remember to keep your needle brooms away from any heat source, and use caution to keep them out of the reach of children and pets.
For a modest decoration this holiday season, or a functional piece to help clean up small messes, we hope that you will enjoy this hands-on craft that allows you make your very own pine needle hand broom. Enjoy the great outdoors as you take the time to source these needles from the land around you.
Fala Burnette is a homesteader with her husband at Wolf Branch Homestead in Alabama. They are currently building their own log cabin and milling their own lumber, along with raising heirloom crops in the Spring and tanning furs during the Winter. Read all of Fala's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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