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 Brush Construction
Brushes are made up of three components the handle, the filling (hairs) and the metal ferrule.

Handles are either long or short. Decorative (folk
art) painters generally use short handles as they work close to the surface and short handles give better control. Easel painters tend to use long handles as they like to stand away from their work and often apply their paint in a less
restricted manner.

The ferrule is the metal piece that holds the hair, its shape depends on the style of the brush being used.

The hair is the filling that picks up the paint and
can be made either from animal hair, synthetic fiber or a combination. The brushes performance is determined by the type of hair used.
 Brush Hair
As Folk Artists generally use this type of brush I will deal with this type first. Synthetic hairs are man-made fibers of Taklon or nylon that have been specifically designed for decorative painting techniques. Good synthetic hairs are generally longer they have been flagged or notched, enabling the hairs to hold large amounts of fluid colour. The main advantages of synthetic over natural are;

  • Economical to use

  • Hold up well against the effects of solvents and

  • Durable on most surfaces

  • Resistant to breakage

  • Easy to clean and maintain

These hairs include all the different types of animal hair used in brush making. Natural hairs have tiny scales along the hair shaft which allows them to carry more paint than synthetic fibers.

Kolinsky sable (this is actually mink) and red sable (weasel hair) are the highest grades available. They are often used for the smooth application and subtle blending that are typical of decorative designs painted with oil paints. The "snap" or "spring" of sable hair means that brushes made from them hold a sharper edge. This makes sable brushes ideal for
sstroke work and details.

Natural fibers of good quality are more expensive than synthetics but if properly cared for they will last a very long time.

Specialty brushes such as mop and deersfoot are often made from lower grades of animal hair (hogs or badger hair).

Blended Composition
These brushes are a mixture between synthetic and natural fibers. The performance and pricing of blended brushes fall somewhere between synthetic and natural fibers; they are more
durable and economical than natural fibers, allow more control, hold sharper points and edges, and carry more fluid than purely synthetic fibers.
All prices are in Australian dollars.

Gwen Crichton

23 Dina Beth Ave,
2148. NSW

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