It’s time to meet Teresa Bentley of Wicked Brooms, a full-time artisan broom maker whom Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market is thrilled to welcome to the 2021 season.
The tradition of broom making began in Bentley’s family.
“My uncle was a broom maker,” she said. “He taught me how to make brooms. I worked with him, traveling to Renaissance Festivals all over the U.S. for years.”
Along her travels, Bentley fell in love with Washington state. She was vending at a local festival when the natural beauty of the peninsula captured her artistic eye.
She promptly finished up her festival circuit, packed up her Kentucky home, and planted her roots in Joyce, setting up a small broom-making studio of her own.
“This is what I do,” Bentley said. “It’s my full-time occupation. In the mornings I’ll shave the bark off of the sticks, then that afternoon I’ll take them over to my shop and finish them; putting the wire on the broom, then hand sewing and plating them.”
The spirited quality one senses when first setting eyes on a Wicked Brooms creation may be reflective of Bentley’s personal creative process.
“When I’m actually making the brooms, I go into a meditative state,” she said. “I really can’t accurately explain the feeling. It’s automatic. I feel like everything is flowing well and my mind is totally free. I just have a wonderful time doing it.”
Bentley specializes in crafting flat and round brooms, with a twist. At the Wicked Brooms booth, guests will find brooms made of unique found and foraged sticks, with unique handles like sassafras, and diamond willow.
“Each one has a certain personality. I swear they do!” Bentley said, laughing. “I make tobacco stick brooms, for example. Those end up feeling a little bit more masculine, rugged, and old to me.
“Tobacco sticks, for decades, were used for gathering up tobacco out in the fields and then for hanging the tobacco in the barn. When people stopped growing so much tobacco, they just sat in barns for years until someone like me would come along and say, ‘Hey! What are you doing with those sticks?!’”
On the opposite side of the personality spectrum, Bentley points to her curly willow brooms.
“Those have a distinct feeling to them,” she said. “They’re curly, they’re all over the place. They end up feeling more energetically light and whimsical.”
Each broom is made and sewn entirely by hand by Bentley herself.
Bentley said she derives a particular joy from witnessing her brooms find their forever homes at the market.
“I really enjoy selling the brooms,” she said. “I like to watch people see my brooms for the first time and say, ‘Wow! I’ve never seen a broom like this. This is so beautiful, or so unique!’”
Upon relocating to the area, Bentley had been searching for a market for her brooms when she visited the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market. “I had heard that the Sequim market had the best artisans and I should really try to get in there. I wanted to be somewhere where everything that people would see would be of the highest quality.”
A lover of local foods and crafts, Bentley said she is excited to join this season’s lineup of market vendors.
“I love being able to sell at a place where I can pick up my groceries for the week,” she said.
“The market highlights the people of the community who are working hard to create food, art, and crafts,” Bentley said. “They’re so important because they allow people to see us and see what we have to offer. We can be out directly in the community. I’m so glad to have a place to show and share with other people what I do and what I’m passionate about.”
You’ll find Bentley and the Wicked Brooms booth at the market’s new, expanded location, Centennial Place, at the intersection of Washington Street and Sequim Avenue.
The Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market runs 9 a.m.-3 p.m. each Saturday through Oct. 30. Visit your community market at Sequim City Hall Plaza, at North Sequim Avenue and West Cedar Street, as well as Centennial Place.
To stay up to date with current SFAM vendors, programming news, and other market developments, be sure to follow SFAM on Instagram, Facebook and be sure to check out sequimmarket.com.
Emma Jane “EJ” Garcia is the Market Manager for the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market. See www.sequimmarket.com.