Friday, June 11, 2010

Deluxe Witches Broom

Deluxe Witches Broom

This is a variation of a broom prop I have made many times for different productions.  I will post pics of some of the others that I have done so readers can see the difference between the standard version and the deluxe version.  The goal with the deluxe version was to get a broom to look more like the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.  I'll discuss both versions, and show where I diverged from the standard version.

1.  Materials:
Straw Broom (I bought a nice one for $13, but next time I do it, I'll buy a cheap one for about $7)
  1. Oil Funnel (about $3)
  2. Grass Skirt or Raffia (I found a bag of grass skirts at the local thrift store
  3. Hot Glue (lots of it)
  4. Fabric (ultra suede works well)
  5. Trim
  6. Spray Glue
  7. Spray Paint
  1. Bolt Cutters
  2. Utility Knife
  3. Pliers
  4. Scissors
  5. Glue Gun
  6. Band Saw (can use Jig Saw or Hand Saw)

Step 1-Demolition: 
First you need to remove the metal band.  Bolt cutters work really well for this.  On a cheap broom, there's often not a band at all.  Second you need to remove the plastic twine that holds the bristles in place.  This is done by cutting the twine with a utility knife and then pulling it out with the pliers.

Cutting the twine.

Pulling the twine.

Demolition complete

Architecture of the broom.  If you pull back the outer layer of bristles, you will find a bundle of bristles inside that give the broom volume.  Cheap brooms will have a much smaller bundle or none at all. 

(At this point, by the way, you can choose to make a peasant broom by pulling all the outer bristles up and tying them to the handle with jute twine. That leaves the juncture between the top of the broom and the bottom very ugly, so wrapping that with alot of jute will mask it.)

Or you can continue on and make a witches broom...

Cutting the ferrule

Step 2-The Ferrule: 
 The Ferrule is made from an automotive oil funnel.  The end is cut off to allow it to sleeve down the length of the handle.  It's best to cut a little at a time so as not to cut the hole too big.  This should be a snug fit, and almost be difficult to slide down the broom.

At this point you could choose to make a standard broom or go on to make the deluxe version.  To make the standard witches broom, you need only decorate the handle, the ferrule and distress the bristles.
Decorating the handle can be whatever you like.  I've done it with wrapping leather and tying beads and finger bones into tassles.  You might pound brass furniture tacks into it.  The sky's the limit. 
To decorate the ferrule, I usually use spray adhesive and fabric to cover it, and then add some kind of trim.
To distress the bristles, you can cut them jagged on a band saw (be aware of where your fingers are at all times when using saws) or by hand with scissors.  Then paint them unevenly with brush or spray paint.

Or you could go on to the deluxe version...

Fitting the ferrule.

Step 3-Securing the bristles. 
When you remove the steel band and the plastic twine, you interrupt the integrity of the broom and you need to strengthen it.  This is done by packing alot of hot glue into the bristle array.

Step 4-Attaching the grass skirt. 
This grass skirt was designed for a table, I suppose for a luau decoration.  I started by hot gluing two or three rows around the inner bundle.  The next time I do this project, I will omit this step, because it was a big hassle and I believe it was unnecessary.

Step 5-Attaching the grass skirt part 2.
The grass skirt needs to be attached to the top of the bristle array.  This is done by hot gluing several rows around the top of the bristles where they attach to the broom. 

This is where I got frustrated with this project.  I finally cut most of the outer array of bristles off and just dealt with the grass skirt.  This is why next time I do this project I'll use a cheaper, thinner broom and not worry about the inner/outer bundles.

If you look at the Wicked Witch of the West's broom, you see that it's made of raffia, but has a rigid core which allows it to stand out for a ways before it droops.  This is the reason I didn't just glue the grass skirt to a stick.  I needed the rigid core to accomplish that.

Step 6-Decorating the ferrule.
The ferrule is decorated by applying spray adhesive to both the fabric and the funnel.  It's important to glue both surfaces for a permanent bond, and it's also important after you have sprayed to allow a minute or two of open time to allow the glue to begin to cure.  Don't give too much time, though because that is just as bad as not giving it as much.  Either way you compromise your bond.

Once the fabric is applied to the ferrule, then it's time to decorate the ferrule with fabric trim applied with hotglue.

Fabric attached to ferrule with spray adhesive.

Trim being applied with hotglue

Step 7-Ferrule attached.
The ferrule can be attached with either glue or a mechanical fastener.  I used a pneumatic stapler with 3/4" narrow crown staples

Step 8-Painting
First of all, this is not a good picture of the paint job.  I'll swap this pic for a good one when I get it. 
The painting was accomplished by spraypainting the bristles with Design Master Glossy Wood Tone, Design Master October Brown and Krylon Ultra Flat Black.

Things I'd do Different 
  1. I'd use a cheaper broom with less bristle
  2. I'd not worry about gluing the grass skirt to the inside bristle array
  3. I'd spray the bristles of the broom with spray adhesive to get the grass skirt to lay flat on it.
  4. I'd decorate the handle somehow (I still might) 
This is my first attempt at making a broom this elaborate.  I learned many things as I built it tonight.  The next time I build a broom like this I will update this tutorial.


Johnny Thunder said...

Great project! Thanks for sharing that.

Sweet Sins said...

I think it looks great! I am going to use this tutorial to try to make a deluxe witches broom for my mother in law! Her favorite holiday is halloween and I think you could have a lot of fun with this!

Dbouch said...

Hi there. Thank you for the ideas. I went out and got everything to make this broom. As I started working with the broom bristols I saw the tiki torch standing there. So instead of the funnel I cut down the broom stick wrapped my grass skirt around the bristols and stuffed it into the top of the tiki torch. So the top of the tiki torch actually did what the funnel would have. And the stick of the tiki torch is very real looking so just a little painting needed. Just some other ideas that may work for others. Again thank you so much for the original ideas. Great broom.