IN A STUDIO AT EL ZAGUÁN, a historic adobe compound for artists and writers on Santa Fe’s Canyon Road, Julia Tait Dickenson makes brooms—but not just any brooms. “I like to make functional things beautiful,” she says. “It has a soul to it.”
Dickenson opened Thin Air Goods in 1992, then moved to Vermont, where she raised her family, served as a social worker, and pursued creative passions such as jewelry, ceramics, printing, and embroidery. She took up broom- and brush-making after a virtual workshop early in the pandemic and returned to the City Different in the summer of 2021.
A treasure hunter, Dickenson scours yard sales and thrift stores for items to repurpose. Brooms—crafted from mop and rake handles, even an old cane—fill her studio. She has turned a vintage dustpan into a brush, with black bristles extending from its longest edge. Another brush uses an old doorknob for a handle.
“I love finding weird things that are used to being held and turning that into something functional,” she says. “My husband says I see a broom in everything.”
It takes hours to hand-sew the coarse broomcorn, made of sorghum sourced from Mexico, onto the handle. Sometimes she adds little adornments, like pom-poms or paper flowers. But Dickenson likes that her brooms will be used to sweep and clean, eventually wearing out.
“My joy in this is function,” she says. “If you’re going to use it every day, why not make it beautiful?”