Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fine Art Brush Tips: Paint Brush Handles

I thought it might be helpful to begin a series on paint brush tips (no pun intended)☺ .  There are myriads of advice articles on choosing the right brushes, caring for them, identifying the differences and using the right ones for specific mediums.  However, here on the Dynasty blog, I'll do my best to bring all of that content together in one place. 

It would make sense to start with the anatomy of the brush.  Brushes are put together with three separate parts:  Tuft, ferrule and handle.  We'll analyze each separately and discuss the differences between materials that are used in the manufacturing of quality brushes.  Instead of beginning with the tuft end, or that which one dips into the medium, I'll start with the handle.

You might be wondering why the handle is important to the brush, or why I would spend time discussing this at all.  But, have you ever noticed the ferrule becoming loose on the handle?  Or the paint peeling off the handle, or discovering that the handle didn't "feel" right in your hand as you were working?  Or even noticed that the handle wasn't straight?

Symmetry Series
Handles are made of hardwoods, quite often beech.   Wooden handles offer better balance, luxurious feel and are more comfortable for holding long periods of time.  Handles are either short or long, though there are not yet standards for exact lengths.  Manufacturers differ slightly on their handle lengths.

Coatings are also different between manufacturers and types of brush, varying from the inexpensive raw wood, to lightly varnished or tumbled coatings, to the high quality and more attractive, dipped handle.   Dipped handles are created by dipping brushes into separate coatings and allowing to dry between layers.  These brushes are more resilient and more attractive as a result.

Dynasty's Black Gold line, all hand crafted and dipped,  has kiln dried wooden handles with seamless metal ferrules, carefully crimped to provide long lasting and water-resistant usage.  Kiln drying removes moisture in the wood.  Each brush also receives a moisture barrier coating to help resist cracking and peeling.  Even with this protection, brushes shouldn't soak for a long time in water, which could loosen the ferrule or bristles.  You'll notice this high quality in the Black Gold brushes the first time you pick one up.

The handle end of the brush is just as important to art making as the tuft.  An artist comes to depend on how the handle feels in her hand, the length of the handle and the sturdiness of its attachment as she paints.  Dynasty has both short and long handled brushes as well as the patented hour-glass shaped, Symmetry series.  The Symmetry series is shaped specifically to reduce painting fatigue while extending painting time, a consideration if you are looking for a new type of brush to try.

Keep in mind the handle end of the brush, not just the tuft when you are looking to buy new paint brushes.  You won't regret purchasing quality.

Keep Painting,
Karyn

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.