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My Blog

The Truth on Paint Brushes

Well, good morning to all.  Another Sunday rolled around.  It is very gloomy here in the Niles, Il. area.  It certainly looks as though we will be in for storms today.  I have been couch bound  as of yesterday.  It seems that so far today...it will continue that way.   I was hoping to get in some painting yesterday, but a continued intestinal bug has caused a change in the plans.  I still worked, only switched my gears to some hand work.  It seems that  there will be more of the same today.
Well, today's blog was inspired by a visit in Texas.  I had taken the family to a historical farm where they were celebrating Dairy Month.  It was a really fun day...although the heat was a bit much for me...I believe we were around 100 degrees.  We toured the Nash home.  The children were able to churn butter and make ice cream and even milk a goat.  We went on a hay ride around the grounds and ended the visit with a milking demonstration of a cow.  I was very interested in this travel program that educates the audience on dairy farming.  I must say, I was surprised to find out that different milking cows give different quantities of milk.  I  conversed back and forth with the gentleman giving the lecture and found out one amazing tidbit.  Being an artist, I was a bit taken back when he said that "Camel Hair" paint brushes were made with the hair from inside a cows ear.  It boggled my brain and left me wondering whether it was true or not.  I couldn't imagine that a man who was in charge of education would make such a kerfuffle.  
That meant one thing...I needed to research this out.  It seems that there is a lot of controversy over this particular fact.  The more I researched it, the more interesting it became.  I really never stopped to think about where the brushes came from...I just knew that there were different standards and types of brushes.  I knew that some where better for particular types of paintings and the difference in prices were staggering. 
So, I landed up finding out that Camel Hair brushes are NOT made with camel hair.  Some speculated that a man who created that particular brush's name was camel...but I could validate that.  I found out that brushes came from squirrel, goat, bear, mink and many more types of animal hairs.  From sight to sight I traveled.  You see, I am the type of person that would resemble a dog with a bone. 
I finally decided to go to a brush company whom I  trust and have used and love their brushes by the way.  The name of the company is Scharff and there I found some trustworthy information....at least in my opinion.  And to top it off...I was educated about paint brushes. 
The company stated that camel hair brushes were made from various leftover hairs.  It is what they considered a good school grade brush. 
The KOLINSKY brush was made with the finest red sable hair which is said to perform with great spring and is used for acrylic and watercolor painting.  I also learned that there are various types of red sable hairs which comes down to where in the world the sable comes from.  Squirrel hair brushes seem to hold the most amount of paint and leave a smooth, streak free stroke.  That of course interested me.   Ox hair brushes are great for mops...and no, not the kind that are used for floors...mops are a type of brush that artist use to blend and soften.  The hairs are much softer.  A bristle brush comes from the hairs of the ear of a pig, and is used with oils or lacquers.  And there are also synthetics.  It was quite an interesting read and very detailed information.  Unfortunately, it didn't say anything about cow hair specifically...but I assume that in the making of camel hair brushes...the loose term of various left over hairs could include the hair from the inside of the cow.   
I enjoyed the day at the farm and the questions it posed in my mind.  Amazing how one topic can lead into another and for me...always a new thirst for knowledge.  I know that in Wisconsin, there is a dairy museum that I visited many years ago.  I had learned that latex paint was made from milk.  It seems that cows supply more that we could imagine.  The gentlemen giving the lecture in Texas informed us that because of the drought in Texas the cows were now having to give powdered milk.....LOL...a good joke I thought!!  He then proceeded to inform us of the parts of the cow....there was the front end of the cow, and the back half was called the "UDDER" end!  Well I have to say, in the end...it was "UDDERLY" thought provoking and entertaining.   

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