Terms    Shape    Buying Tips    Care for Brushes
Red Sable - Red sable comes from weasel and mink tails - both commonly grouped under the name red tarter marten. To get the finest quality red sable, only the best hair from the tails is selected. Red sable is uniform in length, strength, thickness, and elasticity (spring). It is expensive but makes the very best brush.

Sable - produces the best soft hair brushes. The conical shape and scaled surface of each hair provide unrivalled spring, point and colour carrying capacity. There are different qualities of sable available.

Sableline - This is normally light color ox hair that is dyed to look like red sable. Some lettering and watercolor brushes are made with sabeline, mixed with sable, to lower the cost of the brush.

Kolinsky Sable - It comes from the tail of a mink. it is the best hair for watercolor and oil brushes because of its strength, spring and snap. It comes to a very fine point, and with proper care, will last many years.

Camel hair (squirrel, ox, pony, goat) - The phrase "camel hair," when applied to brushes, does not indicate hair from a camel. Camel hair brushes received their name from "Mr. Camel", who invented them. Camel hair is a trade term, the finer grades of which are squirrel hair, while other grades are pony and goat hair. Camel hair brushes are used for an extremely wide range of services: whatercolor and tempera painting, washes, renderings with ink;as dusters and "mops" in easel painting; for lacquering, and touch-up.

Bristle - It comes from hogs in different parts of the world, but the very best comes from China. Hog bristle is different than any other natural fiber, since it forms a V-shaped split or "flag" at the tip, and has a natural curve. This gives it a resistance to fraying and it spreads paint smoothly and evenly.

Pony hair - It comes from an animal that is at least two years old. It is very strong, but also soft. The very finest pony hair comes from the belly of the animal. It is often blended with other hairs for less expensive watercolor and touch-up brushes.

Squirrel hair - Blue squirrel is the most readily available and comes in long lengths, as well as short lengths. It is generally used for striping brushes and lettering brushes. Brown, or kazan, is no longer as plentiful as it was several years ago. It is generally found in the shorter lengths and used for stripers, quills, and outliners. Both blue and kazan are very soft and fine. They point as well as kolinsky, but have very little snap, since the hair is not very resillient. Grey squirrel is the hardest to find and the most expensive. It is more durable, has more snap and makes a great quill or lettering brush.

Balance - the correct weight and shape of a handle in relationship to the weight of the brush head.

Belly - the mid-section and thickest part of the brush head, or of the individual hair filament itself. Sable filaments have excellent bellies, which result in well shaped round brushes.

Blunt - a hair which is missing its natural tip. Finest quality brushes, do not contain blunts or trimmed hairs.

Colour carrying capacity - the amount of colour a brush is able to absorb from the palette.

Crimp - the compressed section of the ferrule which holds the handle to the brush head.

Designers - an elongated round sable, most common for illustration work.

Ferrule - the metal tube which supports the hair and joins it to the handle.

Flag - the natural, split tip of each bristle. Flags carry more colour and are evident on the highest quality hog brushes.

Gummed - newly made brushes are pointed (set) with gum in order to protect them in transit.

Interlocked - bristle brushes whose hairs curve inward towards the centre of the brush head.

Length out - the length of hair exposed, from the ferrule to the tip.

Miniature - extra short and small sable rounds, used for retouching photographs and other high detail work.

Pencil - traditional name for small round sables.

Quill - bird quills were originally used for ferrules prior to the development of seamless metal ferrules.

Rigger - very thin, long round sable, traditionally used for painting rigging in marine pictures.

Soft - brushes essentially made for water colour. Made from sable, goat or polyester.

Solid-dressed - sable which is sorted in bundles of equal length prior to brushmaking. Resultant brushes are not as responsive as taper-dressed sables.

Spring / Snap - the degree of resilience of the hair and its ability to return to a point. Sable displays excellent spring.

Taper-dressed - Kolinsky sable which is sorted into different lengths prior to brushmaking for Series 7 brushes. Resultant brushes have wider bellies and finer points.

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