Broom Making

Michael Wheeler

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Alton Blankenship

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Gina and Michael Wheeler

Broom maker and chair maker

Barnardsville, NC (Buncombe County)

Gina Wheeler, a broom maker, grew up in Hendersonville in an artistic family. She apprenticed for several years with broom maker Alton Blankenship, learning directly from him the art that Blankenship learned from his father in Rutherford County. Blankenship spoke admiringly of his protégé's work. She often accompanied him and assisted him at his demonstration engagements until his passing in August, 2011.

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Alton Blankenship

Broom maker and woodcarver

Marion, NC (McDowell County)

Alton Blankenship remembered that when he was a boy in Rutherford County, his father grew broomstraw and made, sold, and traded brooms. "I didn't know you could buy a broom ‘til I got to school and saw those fancy ones with the long wooden handles," he said. Though he watched his father make numerous brooms, it wasn't until Alton was in his mid-sixties, when he received a lesson from Buncombe County broom maker Marlow Gates, that he tried his hand at making his own. He went on to make kitchen, whisk, hearth, and turkey wing brooms.

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