I recently visited Santa Fe de Antioquia, Colombia, a tiny, old, colonial town about an hour bus ride from Medellin. While walking down the cobblestone streets I passed a mop and broom shop where they make both. Luckily, I had my own personal translator with me to help me ask if I could see something being made. The answer? A giant YES!
This place makes mops and brush brooms. They lady inside was delighted to show me how a mop is made. And WOW did she do it fast and make it look amazingly easy (which with the speed and agility she had, I knew that it must have taken years to become so fluid in her process).
First she took a giant dowel of wood and stuck it in a hole in the side of a table. then she grabbed some wire, and with a homemade turning machine (using a bicycle foot pedal, and a rig that looked like threading a sewing machine) she pumped the bicycle pedal, which spun the wooden dowel and wrapped metal twine around the end of the dowel.
Then she grabbed a handful of mop threads (not sure what to call them properly) and wrapped it in half around the metal just above the dowel, pushed the foot pedal and instantly tied the mop-threads onto the wooden dowel with the metal line.
She did this 3 times and suddenly had something that looked just like a mop!
Then she stared hammering tiny nails into the dowel where the mop-threads were. She did this a couple times, then stopped the metal, cut it, and grabbed some cloth banding (a spool of cloth about an inch thick).
She weaved it back and forth around some nails in a piece of wood that was attached to the wall. Back and forth, like lacing a shoe, then wrapped the cloth up and over and down to the working end of the mop (with the mop still sticking in that little hole in the side of the table).
She then again started pedaling, and wrapping the cloth piece around the top part of the mop-threads (where the mop meets the wood) and banded the mop, covering the wire actually holding the mop-threads to the dowel. She then again took a few tiny nails to hold this in place, and with the skills of a ninja master, cut the cloth, pulled the masterpiece out of the table hole , and in what was a mere maybe 5 minute process was holding a brand new mop!
She grabbed a rubber end-cap thingy form a bin to top the other end of the mop (where you hold it) to cover the exposed and jagged end of the wood, and TA-DA a new mop is born.
It was amazing watching how quickly she maneuvered a plain wooden dowel and a few pieces of cloth and wire into a beautiful, basic, and much used cleaning device.
And the brilliantly homemade contraption she used was amazing. I don’t think any expensive, fancy machine could build a mop with the quality of this one that was now standing in front of me.
If you need a mop, or would like to visit this store, they are located at
There information is as follows:
Escobobas Y Traperas EL PAISA
(There is no address on their business cards. Santa Fe is tiny. Put your back to the church in the main square, then take your second left. Its down that street about 5 minutes walking. You will see its neon-orange sign on a corner on your left side).
An hour bus ride, and stop over in this quaint, little, church-filled town of Santa Fe is totally worth it to get a mop made from them. If I ever need a mop in Medellin, I see another trip to Santa Fe to purchase a homemade mop. Screw the big stores. I want my mop to have a history (and be made with some good ol’ fashion homemade lovin’).