Don Gruel and Noel Holland of Wizard Brooms are making sweeping strides in crafting the most beautifully detailed and yes, colorful, brooms in Central Florida and even the Nation. Let’s just say these aren’t your grandma’s broomsticks, but rather works of art that require ingenuity, individuality and of course imagination. By combining proper broom making techniques and their entertainment backgrounds, Wizard Brooms provides the authentic missing piece to cosplayer’s and collector’s of all ages. Let’s get to know the wizards behind the brooms and be sure to stop by and see them at Maker Faire Orlando on Oct. 22-23 at the Central Florida Fairgrounds.
1. Give us a brief overview of your backgrounds.
For the past 20+ years, we’ve worked as professional actors. Our primary focus is with our touring theatre for young audiences, The Atlantic Coast Theatre (A.C.T.) For Youth. Noel’s degree is in Music from the University of Montevallo in AL, and Don studied Theatre at the University of South Carolina. After years of creating theatre, we thought it would also be fun to create fantasy inspired brooms as a side project.
2. How did you come up with the idea or how did you get involved in that industry?
We are both big fans of fantasy…Harry Potter, The Lord Of The Rings, etc. We studied blacksmithing at a school in the Appalachian mountains that teaches traditional crafts and wanted to go back to learn another artisan skill. We had this epiphany about learning the art of traditional broom making, but instead of making sweeping brooms, we would focus on creating high quality Wizard Brooms.
3. What is the process/ material used?
We use responsibly gathered hardwoods for our broom handles. They go through a multi-stage finishing process. We use natural broom corn for the broom bristles. We also dye broom corn into a variety of colors. The actual process of attaching the broom corn to the handle can be done in a fairly short amount of time, but the prep work takes quite a while. Intricate shaping and artistic elements take additional time as well. We estimate that we spend between 4-6 hours on each broom.
4. How is your business different than other competitors or do you even have competitors, are you a niche?
There are some very talented broom makers around the country, but most of them focus on traditional style brooms. Our brooms are definitely unique and imaginative. We use traditional Appalachian broom making techniques with a wizardy twist. Some of our brooms are reminiscent of flying style brooms like those in Harry Potter. Some have wire wrapping and handmade fused glass made by Noel. No two brooms are exactly alike. We also make cobweb brooms, sweepers, and hearth brooms. All of our brooms can actually be used for sweeping. They are functional art.
5. What businesses or other organizations in the Florida area have assisted along the way or do you belong to?
Our mentor, Glenn Mclean, has been making brooms and other woodwork in the Cracker Country area of the Florida State Fair for a number of years. He has been truly wonderful teaching us countless useful skills needed for this endeavor. Broom making, like so many traditional skills, isn’t something you just pick up or learn from a book. You need a teacher, and we were very lucky to have a great one.
We are also members of Arts and Crafts Of Central Florida.
6. Any patents, revolutionary technique, technology or something that makes you stand out?
At events like Maker Faire, we are able to make custom brooms for patrons. They get to pick their broom stick, the colors of their broom corn, and the style. We can usually make a custom broom in about an hour. We also bring our theatrical background into our broom making. Each of our brooms names itself in an interactive experience with the broom’s buyer.
7. You obviously do this because you’re passionate about it. Was there a leap of faith you took to get to this point that might inspire others to do the same?
As with anything, it starts with an idea, but an idea will only get you so far. You have to take the next step to make the idea come to life. We’ve always made our living as performing artists. This concept was not too different from creating a show, but in this particular show we make brooms.
Stefaney Rants, Guest Blogger