Folk Center: Brooms, Dolls, and Baskets

By the time we got the last few shops at the Ozark Folk Center, we were so overloaded with information but we still wanted to know as much as we could. Our last stops were at the Broom shop, the Doll shop, and the Basket Shop.


The broom shop is run by Shawn, who has been broom making for seven years, and Elena, who has been doing it for five years. Before broom making, Shawn said he did just about everything.Broom Shop Ozark Folk Center-Mt View AR

There are 20 varieties of brooms in the shop, and they are made from what is called broom corn. Apparently in the 1700’s any grain was automatically called cornBrooms

They attach the broom corn to the wood handle by wrapping wire around and adding more broom corn. Attaching broom corn to handleTo secure it in the shape they want, they sew with a nylon crochet thread in a figure eight and then a lightning bolt pattern. Back in the 1800’s, they would have used a waxed cotton to sew with. The brooms that have colored broom corn are dyed. It takes one day to dye and two days to dry.Sewing Broom Corn

Broom stands alone

A good broom stands alone!

There was an authentic cookbook from the 1800’s on display that instructed the baker to test the doneness of the cake using a broom strand. Who knows what you swept up the last time you used your broom, so they sell a special bunch of broom corn just for cake testing–guaranteed clean!

Cake Tester

Thanks, Shawn, for taking the time to talk to us.


Paula Lane greeted us enthusiastically when we came into the doll shop. Though we were tired, she lifted our spirits greatly. Right away she shared with us what she was working on, corn husk flowers.Corn Husk Flowers The shop is full of corn husk dolls. These delicate dolls are beautiful.Corn Husk Dolls Paula explained to us that it is a Native American craft. Her Great Aunt Mary, who was born 105 years ago, made these kinds of dolls and were the only kind of doll she ever had.

Antique Corn Husk Dolls

Antique Corn Husk Dolls

The corn husks, nowadays, are dyed with a fabric dye. She has tried using natural dyes but found that they brown more easily.

A lady named Erlene was the one who started making these corn husk dolls at the Folk center twenty years ago. She wasn’t finding any instructions on how to do it, so she decided to try it and make her own patterns.

Like many of the Folk Center artists, Paula was a school teacher before coming to work at the center. She has now been there for four years and has a great time doing it.

She showed us a fun trick playing with a button on a string! Thanks, Paula.Button Trick


Our last stop of the day was at the basket maker’s shop.Basket Shop Ozark Folk Center -Mt View AR Sharon Fernimen was working on a lovely egg basket and showed us how she was doing it. The shape keeps the the contents of the basket from rolling around because it forms two wells at the bottom.Making Egg BasketBasket Weaver

The baskets are made out of a kind of reed, which darkens over time to the color we often see in baskets. Some of the reeds are dyed by using fabric dye because it holds the color better.Basket tag

Sharon worked in a factory years ago before working at a craft and dulcimer chop. Since then she has always been in the tourist industry working in gift shops. She got started weaving baskets 11 years ago and started as a substitute in the Basket Shop before taking over.

Thank you, Sharon, for talking to us (and thinking I, Melinda, was young enough to be in school still).

Basket Bottom

The bottom of the basket is made with a hump to allow air to flow around the fruits and vegetables.

We had a great time talking to all the wonderful people at the Folk Center. We look forward to going back!


Folk Center: Brooms, Dolls, and Baskets — 2 Comments

  1. I have a 3 in 1 doll with a tag from your center…it has some age to it but in very good shape….the doll is little red riding hood…grandma…and the big bad wolf….any information on the value of the doll would be appreciated….

    • Jim, I have passed the question on to the Doll House at the Folk Center for them to contact you with the information you are seeking.