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Mendhi hands by Pushpa Jain. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.Fish decoy. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Embroidered dress detail. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Cedar bird by Glen VanAntwerp. Photo by Al Kamuda. All rights reserved.
Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Awards

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Tschetter Henry Tschetter (master) and Kaitlyn Tschetter(apprentice)

Kaitlyn works on broom
Henry's apprentice and granddaughter, Kaitlyn works on a whisk broom.

Detail of whisk broom by Kaitlyn Tschetter.

Photos by LuAnne Kozma

Henry Tschetter, Rebecca Oleneack, and Kaitlyn Tschetter
2011 master artist and apprentices
Rockford (Kent County)
broom making

Broom making is a Tschetter family tradition. Raised in a Hutterite colony, Henry Tschetter learned the craft from his father and grandfather who, in addition to farming, made brooms and sold them to local grocery and hardware stores and feed mills. He left the colony as a young man and moved to Michigan where he worked in various mechanical jobs. In the 1980s, Henry wanted to make brooms again, so he purchased a stitching press and cutting bench that had belonged to his grandfather and a broomwinder from other relatives. First he made traditional house brooms and would give them away. He then started growing his own broomcorn and varying the way he made brooms. Soon he was attending festivals, craft shows and antique tractor shows to sell brooms and to often demonstrate the process. Rebecca Oleneack, Henry’s daughter, and his son’s daughter Kaitlyn, are apprenticing with Henry to learn the tradition. While Rebecca was required to help with the harvesting of broomcorn while growing up, she only recently began learning the process. Rebecca appreciates that making brooms is a rare skill that she wants to learn and pass on to her own children. Kaitlyn showed a keen interest in broom making while helping at shows and recognizes “not very many people know how to make a broom.” She is starting out with whisk brooms and is already mastering the art of stitching.

-LuAnne Kozma

© 2011 Michigan State University, all rights reserved