Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What is a Sable Brush?

Kolonok exhibit in the Musuem of Zoology, St. Petersburg

      The sable brushes we know and use today are actually made from a breed of weasel, found in cold weather climates, where the hair grows thick and long, about 3-4 cm in length. The Kolinsky sable is named for the area Kola in Russia where they are found. The Kolinsky in particular animal is reddish in color, hence “red sable” being another common name for the brush type.  Long hair from the animal’s tail, due to long hard winters in the Siberian climate create the finest watercolor brushes available.    Because the hair is hard to obtain, it is incredibly expensive, and not all sable brushes are created equally.  Some are a combination of sables, and others might contain another type of animal hair, like squirrel or badger. 
      What makes the sable hair so perfect for the painter is that the hairs are shaped like a barrel with a wide belly and they taper to a fine point.  When put together in a ferrule and wetted out, they come together in a point that holds water and pigment beautifully.  The sable brush is perfect for watercolor artists for this reason, but can also be used by other water media, like acrylic detail or even egg tempera.  Sable brushes are not ideal for heavy bodied paints because they are soft and sensitive to solvents, which can dry them out.
      Dynasty has a true Kolinsky sable, a Mongolian Sable and a new brush released earlier this year, the faux Kolinsky watercolor brush.  This faux brush has taken over a year to develop, to get the right blend of proper synthetics.  It is not available anywhere else and its performance is very close to a real sable.  The brush is made with the Kolinsky brush sizing and a seamless nickel ferrule as well as a traditional satin black Albata handle.  Dynasty has a committment to produce products that are ecologically responsible and this brush is a fine example.
     To read more about these brushes specifically, you can view the Dynasty Website or check out earlier blog posts.

Keep Painting,
Karyn