When I started the research for making paintbrushes my first step was to learn as much as i could how other brushes are made, and what offerings are found at area art stores. Seattle has a large collection of Art stores and i visited several to see how brushes are presented, and what the differences are. I bought a lot of brushes, worked with them, and took many of them apart.
I quickly noticed that the entire paintbrush industry is very mature. The industry is so mature that there is very little innovation to be found. The industry has been doing the same things for a long time and it appears most of the big name manufacturers such as Escoda© and DaVinci© have at one time or another called using a different color of paint on their brush handles a form of innovation.
The result of the research taught me a lot about brush design. What is striking about the design is two major details. The first is that many brushes are made from a poor choice of materials, with a goal of being inexpensive. Understandably anyone wants to spend as little as needed. This is basic cost efficiency. But the quest to squeeze the last penny out of cost has left the user of these brushes with little by way of choice and less by way of quality.
The 2nd major detail is some brushes work better than others with certain types of paints and inks. While true, there is little offered by way of nuances for the offerings. Many manufacturers have opted to drive down the brushes’ quality and instead present brushes with lower price points instead of higher quality.
On the detail of price points, i found that some manufacturers sell their brushes to the retailer for about 25% of the retail cost, while claiming the retail cost is 300% of the wholesale cost. The manufacturer does this so that the retailer can put the brushes on sale, and some customers will perceive the brushes value to be due to the savings they think they get. In other words, when a brush retails for $75 and the seller is offering it for $25 you think you’re getting a good deal. Really you are not getting the value you may think your are.
In my opinion, these amount to false or misleading choices and have lead to a lot of frustration on the part of artists because they may end up being challenged and even hobbled by the brushes they use.
From my research I learned that there is a need for innovative design and high quality paintbrushes.
I’m going to talk a little about how my brushes are different.
First my brushes are all very high performance.
They are all hand made by myself, in my world wide brush making studio facility located in Greenwater WA.
In addition to being high performance I offer is a range of brushes which offers capabilities other brushes don’t.
A lot of people know that goat hair brushes are used widely among most water and ink based paints including underglazes. Goat hair holds a lot of paint. If it is properly cleaned and uniform, it can provide buttery smooth delivery and it lasts as long as goat hair can last. Goats are tough animals and the brushes do last a long time.
That is the good news.
Goat hair is not very springy, and while you can get it to make a nice point, the point is as soft as goat hair and because of that takes almost super human skills to work on the tip of the brush. Goat hair is soft and provides little feedback.
Here’s the thing about goat hair. While it is very popular, it’s It’s no fun to fight the brush when you are trying to do fine detailed work.
I solved this problem by blending a small amount of fine grade, tapered and textured synthetic fibers into the double dressed goat hair I use. The combination provides all of the plusses of goat hair, along with the extraordinary additional capability of a needle fine tip plus it adds some feedback to the brush and that makes it easier to do detailed work! Many say it’s like having two brushes in one. One is the delight of the buttery smooth delivery of goat hair. And, when working on the tip of the brush, even the 2″ long bristle makes it easy to do ultra fine detailed work.
This innovation led to my goat hair and synthetic fiber blend brushes becoming my most popular brush line.
Below is one of my best selling sets of this kind of brush. The brushes are also sold individually and in bristle lengths ranging from 1/2″ up to 2″
Another detail that stood out in my research is that most paintbrushes don’t provide much feedback for the user. To work on the tip of the brush you usually have to intuitively know where the tip is, because you can’t tell by using the brush. Some have a knack for this but most don’t. I solved this problem by providing a nice range of tactile feedback in my brushes. In total i offer 16 types of brush hair. I’m probably the only one to offer this wide assortment. The reason i do it is it makes it easier for you to produce great work!
I offer two general categories of brushes, which are natural hair brushes and synthetic fiber brushes. Plus of course some blends, such as the Goat and Synthetic blend mentioned above. My brushes range from very soft to very stiff. What thousands of visitors to my Art Fair exhibit have told me is that the overwhelming majority really enjoys my springier brushes. The easier the brush is to work with the more quickly your skills will excel with it.
At the outset i offered only one synthetic bristle, my Soft White Synthetic line, and a smaller assortment of natural hair brushes. The Soft White Synthetic quickly became my 2nd best seller, and remains there. While it was intended for people who use solvent based paints, everyone loved it for most applications. Due to its popularity, i added 3 more synthetic brushes, being my Brown Synthetic, Orange Synthetic, and Stiff White Synthetic. Examples of these are below.
The Soft White is the softest; next is the brown, orange and stiff white. As a note, the soft white and brown are the most popular. Note that i don’t offer the Orange or Stiff white Synthetic brushes in 1/2″ length. The bristles are too stiff for to be this short.
SWS: 18420 brown D: 18432 orange ID: 18396 ID: 18283
Another innovation is with the use of bamboo handles. Bamboo is wider and lighter than wood handles found on commercial brushes. Many have commented that a wider handle actually relaxes their hands. The effect of a larger brush tends to relax the hand and arm all the way to the shoulder. This is because the muscles tend to relax when holding a slightly bigger object. The brushes are also not perfectly round, and many have a lot of variations. The irregularity actually goes a long way to relaxing the hand. When i’m painting, i’ve used my brushes for up to 15 hours at a stretch, and the difference between the bamboo handles and a commercial handle is astonishing. For one thing, i don’t think i could use a commercial brush for 15 hours without cramping my hand beyond use.
My brush handles will help relax your hand. My Wangi handles take it to the next level. They are soft to the touch and very light. People love them! By offering my brushes with bamboo handles, you actually end up with a more comfortable brush.
brn: 18428, wangi sws 18416 18356
I offer a line of handgrip brushes. These are game changers for some. Some people with arthritis or injuries, and those who just like a bigger brush, really enjoy my handgrip brushes. I combine these with my best bristle material to create a very enjoyable experience with the brushes.
18412 18408 18410 18414
Another brush line I offer is made from Pony hair. I noticed that some artists have a very quick hand. Most brushes can’t deliver paint or ink fast enough to keep up with them. Pony hair is an exception. It holds more paint than my sables do, and it can keep up with even the fastest painter. Pony hair is very soft, so this brush is ideal for those who have a fast hand and light touch.
The items above just a few of the many innovative solutions my brushes offer. You can find out more by browsing through my offerings.