Seeking change, the Lovensteins left their Forest Service jobs in Washington State to live a simpler life. “We were drawn to Stone County, Arkansas because it is a community with strong ties to the past, when life was slower,” says Jerry.
In 1976, they and their two-year-old son, Adrian, settled on a secluded 59 acres along Grassy Creek. “We came with a Mother Earth News education in homesteading and a determination to make it here. Jobs were scarce. Seasonal waitress work at the Ozark Folk Center turned into the key to our future” recalls Judy.
Through an apprenticeship program offered at the Ozark Folk Center, Jerry learned the old fashioned hand-tying method of broom making. By late 1978, the Lovensteins established the family business, Grassy Creek Handcrafted Brooms. Ever since, the family has recreated the traditional forms influenced by the Shakers and Puritans, and handed down for generations. Continuing with tradition, their son Adrian apprenticed and at the age of nine was making his own line of miniature turkey wing brooms. He is soon to be followed by his son, River, who has already been introduced to the craft at age four.
In 1985, Jerry was served as Master Artisan for a National Endowment of the Arts Folk Arts apprentice program sponsored by the Arkansas Arts Council. Jerry was honored by the Arkansas Arts Council with a 2001 Individual Artist Fellowship in Traditional Craft.
The Lovensteins sell their brooms at craft shows across the nation, as well as in fine craft stores, some galleries, and to private collectors.