Lebenzon Paintbrushes Offers the Highest Performance Brushes Available.
Most paintbrush manufacturers claim their brushes are “hand made.” I’m going to discuss this topic in this essay and explain the anatomy of a brush and how the brush anatomy makes a difference.
First lets talk about brush handles. When I go to an art supply store to look at paintbrushes, one of many things I notice is that it’s obvious brush handles are not what anyone would call hand made. You see thousands of brush handles at art stores. They are mostly made of a few types of wood, finished with a wide variety of paints, and offered to you with about as much thought towards comfort and ergonomics as the average toothpick.
Some manufacturers offer nice styling executed with injection molded materials that range from good to hard and edgy. These are often made of 2 part molds. Most manufacturers don’t bother to remove the seams the molds leave behind. The handles are at least uniform and a lot of people live with them because……there are no alternatives.
But hand made? You would think anyone who offers what they call a good brush would want it to be comfortable. The typical effort for comfort comes in the form of a small piece of rubber like material that is small and becomes slippery in time due to perspiration and other stuff that builds up due to use. The springy part also becomes stiff and edgy over time. Clearly this kind of offering does not show the typical care to attention of something hand made.
Next let’s discuss ferrules. What is a ferrule? A ferrule is a type of mechanical interface. It works kind of like an electrical connector where you plug the lamp in to an electrical outlet. Except unlike an electrical connector that will last for decades, just about every brush manufacturer has corrupted the use of a ferrule to be something that is the key element accelerated in brush self-destruction. This process often takes place in several ways. Even the often commented upon type of crimp the brush manufacturer puts where the ferrule meets the handle is a major point where most brushes are known to fail.
The failure at the crimp is due to typical expansion and contraction of wood as the humidity in the air increases and decreases over the year. When humidity drops, moisture escapes wood, and when it rises, wood absorbs humidity. So the brush handle gets bigger and smaller. Each time it does this it exerts pressure on the ferrule. Over time the ferrule’s grip on the handle becomes weaker. Eventually the handle will wiggle where it meets the ferrule. And that is just about the time when many buy a new brush. Plastic handles get around this problem.
Now a bit about how a ferrule destroys brush bristles. Have you ever taken a piece of wire or a paper clip and bent it back and forth in the same spot? Most people have done this in one way or another. What this does is stress the wire and it can only tolerate this so many times before the wire breaks at the stressed point.
Paintbrush bristles work the exact same way. Every stroke of the brush stresses the brush hairs or filaments where the ferrule meets the bristles. This stress will eventually cause the brush fibers to stress and break.
Most brushes are glued as close as possible to the narrow end of the ferrule. This causes a lot of stress on the bristles and that helps to guarantee that individual bristle hair of filaments will start falling out pretty quickly. Just about every manufacturer does this.
And then there is the glue used to bond the bristle to the ferrule. A lot of brush manufacturers use a glue which becomes brittle quickly. The stress that the bristle puts on the glue is another subtle form of wear. After a fairly short amount of time the glue itself will become brittle from the typical stresses associated with use. The result? Individual hairs or filaments fall out.
Combine the stresses at both ends of the ferrule, as just about every manufacturer does, and you have 3 ways that each brush is designed to fail courtesy of the ferrule, the glue used and the stresses it puts where the ferrule meets the other parts of the brush.
Back to the topic of the hand made elements, a quick or not so quick look at brush ferrules will show these are not what anyone would call hand made. They are 100% uniform and you can see they are machine cut, stamped and rolled. Whether a brush costs $2 or $95, the ferrule is roughly the same. The main ferrule variants are the diameter, length and color. And of course some manufacturers speak proudly about the crimps they use with ferrule.
What is obvious in the manufacturing techniques noted above is that 1) clearly there is not much hand made in commercial brush handles, or ferrules, and 2) what is made has devious and has designed failures built-in.
Now i’ll discuss little about bristles. Bristles can be made a variety of ways. But to make them very uniform requires a lot of precision equipment. I like to say that working with hair is a lot like working with air. The difference is slightly more than the letter “h” Hair is so delicate to work with that one wrong move or slip makes a mess. In fact, even if you do everything right there will be a little mess because hair is delicate and most definitely not uniform. Natural hair also compresses easily that adds to the difficulty of working with natural hair types.
Synthetic materials are much more uniform and easier to work with as far as manufacturing goes. Usually the manufacturing process for synthetic filaments is completely automated. If you poke around the web long enough you’ll find some pretty cool looking machinery that’s used to make artist paintbrush bristles. Most of these do a good to excellent job and one that’s very uniform. Very similar types of machinery are used both for synthetic and natural hair materials. But there is little that’s hand made. In fact the advent of sophisticated machinery has gone a long way to compete with having a high degree of skill in brush making. Such is the goal of technology and there is nothing wrong with that as long as the primary goal is to produce a high quality product instead of a high volume product.
For both natural hair and syntactic filaments, most manufacturers make bristles on assembly lines and automate as much as they can. First the bristle material is measured by weight with very sensitive equipment. After that the bristle is formed by the use of a mold for the brushes’ specific bristle diameter. Next the hair is trimmed at the wide end to be as uniform as possible for length. There are a number of ways to do this. The next step is to shape the bristle. This is done in part by the ferrule design, and in part by some other machining. But once the bristle is shaped it’s glued, sometimes with epoxy and sometimes with something that will not last very long, to the ferrule. I have seen instances where bristles are made with water based glues. Literally these are designed to fail after repeated use of water based paints. At any rate, once the bristle is inserted and glued, the ferrule is usually crimped to the handle.
That’s how most brushes are made. It’s been done this way since at least the 1960’s. Along with that manufacturing process has been the perpetuation that artist brushes have a fairly short service life. Now you know why.
The quest for squeezing all the profit possible is engineered into most brushes. Some of the better quality brushes include some hand made steps. No doubt about this. Most brushes are made from sprawling corporations where the major if not only goal is to maximize profit. We all need to make a living, and long ago most bigger corporations set to build items where a shortened service life serves the goals of increased profits. The term used to describe this process is “planned obsolescence” and it is an engineering goal in most manufactured items from brushes to automobiles.
The end product of a commercial brush is something that is uniform and made in a high volume for the lowest cost possible. When it comes to brushes, quality is determined more by the thickness of the ferrule and type of glue used than any other element.
Most brushes are made in this way. Except for my brushes
The year 2020 is when i introduced my brushes to the world by way of my web site. By the time my web site was online for about 7 months, people from over 100 countries have visited my web site. That’s pretty amazing, at least to me! I knew i was one of very few people to hand create bruises in the USA. Since opening the web site i learned i’m one of very few to hand create high performance brushes in the world.
I’m going to describe the highlights of what I make.
First, most of my brushes are designed as detail brushes, riggers, and liners. I make some mops and drip brushes as well. People spend a lot of time working with detail brushes and it helps creativity to make the handle as comfortable as possible.
I use bamboo for most of my handles. I cut most of it from area groves myself and let cure for about a year before doing anything with it. This is so the material will cure slowly and uniformly. Then each handle is carefully crafted to be very comfortable in the hand. At the same time, each handle is also made as close to an ideal platform for the bristle as i can make it.
My brushes take about 50 steps each to make. If i were to count the steps more closely, it would be a little more than 50 steps. Bamboo is irregular. This is the biggest challenge for me because each brush bristle i make has to be made for the specific piece of bamboo. The slight variations is part of why each brush is a one of a kind creation.
Bamboo is magical in the hand. It’s is uncommonly comfortable, extraordinary light, and has the most subtle flex to it when used as a brush handle. There is nothing else like it. Plus because it’s irregular, you can rotate the handle slightly and it changes the way it feels. The result of this is that your hand doesn’t get sore or tired like, say, when holding a thin and too hard handle. Bamboo handles are also larger in diameter compared to comparable diameter bristle brushes. A slightly larger handle relaxes the hand and lets you use it longer without your fingers, hand, arm and shoulder tiring. Bamboo is a natural on many levels, and can last for decades.
Everyone loves my brush handles because they are unlike any other brush handle.
My brushes don’t use a ferrule.
Most bamboo is hollow so there is no need for a ferrule. Plus the natural surface of bamboo makes it easy to clean.
While you don’t usually see it, most of my brushes have bristles that are 2″ to 3″ long. They are glued way back from the end of the handle. This is done in part to make sure the bristles are never stressed in any way approaching what you get in commercial brushes. It is also done to make a much bigger contact area between the bristle, the glue, and the handle. This makes sure the bristles are unlikely to break or fall out. Sure it can happen, but i’ve had less than a handful of problematic brushes after many years of making brushes. The ways i mentioned above where most brushes are designed to fail do not exist on my brushes. That’s part of why they can last for decades.
In addition, because the hair or filaments i use are fairly long, there is not a single point of stress and the brushes hold more paint or ink.
The designs I use are part of why i offer a lifetime warranty for materials and workmanship. While there is a thing called normal wear and tear, what causes most artist paintbrushes to fail are not an issue with my brushes. How many other brush manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty for materials and workmanship?
Next is the bristle materials. I’m about the only brush manufacturer, who offers 16 different materials for my brushes. This includes 12 natural hair bristles and 4 synthetic filaments. I use one and sometimes 2 types of material for each brush. All of the materials i use are the highest quality available. This assortment is offered in part for different types of paint and ink, and on a bigger scope, they are offered so that you can get just the right feel for the way you like to work.
I re-purpose and up-cycle as many materials as i can with the goal of being environmentally responsible.
Each element of my brushes is expertly hand crafted by my own hands. One look demonstrates that quality, performance and comfort are the goals. My brushes are often said to be works of art. This is because of the materials i use and because one of my goals is to provide high quality fit and finish.
I offer over 200 unique brush types, to give you the right feel and just the right responsiveness. If you come to one of my exhibits you can work with the brushes and experience what i do with your own hands and eyes.
My brushes are designed to hold more liquid than other comparable brushes and that helps you concentrate on the creativity. This is because the bristle materials i chose are selected in part due to the feel they provide, and also because they hold more liquid than other bristle materials.
Some of the hair i use comes from renewable sources. Hair that comes from Goats, Oxen and Ponies as examples are 100% renewable. The animals only receive a haircut from time to time.
I like to joke that the synthetic filaments I use come from Unicorns who visit my studio in the Spring and let me comb out their winter coats. In reality I source the materials from groups who make the highest quality bristle materials for artist paintbrushes. I offer four types of synthetic filaments which range from very subtle and soft to material which is verrry springy. All of them have etched and tapered filaments and tips.
Thousands of people have said my brushes are “works of art that make works of art” and that they are “like Ollivander’s wands” from the Harry Potter series.
If you are looking for unmatched high-quality, great performance and nice looking artist brush, you will find it at this site.